Back to School Guide 2014




It’s that time again! Back-to-school is a time when parents rejoice, kids groan, and leaves fall. Bedtime is earlier, breakfast is even more important, and kids must choose how to spend their precious after-school hours. Germs are spread, bullying is resisted (and hopefully one day nonexistent) and parents must determine how to get their kids to use their ever-present smart phones and IPads for good and not evil. The back-to-school sales are only a harbinger of all that is to come when the kids go back to school.


Germs get passed around at school, and your child is going to catch the common cold or stomach bug at some point, says Dr. Ami Orr, pediatrician at Blanchard Valley Pediatrics. In fact, expect your child to get eight to 10 viral infections a year the first few years of day care, preschool and elementary school. As children get older, the frequency of illness should decrease. Do your best to keep your child healthy and safe with these tips:

Get the flu vaccine. Everyone ages six months and older should get the flu vaccine in the fall. Opt for the nasal vaccine for children ages two and up because evidence suggests it provides a better immune response, says Dr. Orr.

Remind your child to wash his/her hands, after using the restroom, before and after meals, and after sneezing, coughing or nose blowing. Wash for the entire time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. Do NOT share certain things like water bottles which can transmit diseases such as mono, or combs, hats, headphones and hairbrushes that can spread head lice.

Feed your child “super foods”—primarily fresh fruits and vegetables—that are packed with vitamins, nutrients and fiber essential for growing kids. Make sure your child is well-rested, which means 9 to 12 hours of sleep a night depending on his/her age. Reduce exposure to allergens (if your child suffers from allergies in the spring or fall) by having people take off their shoes when entering the house. Also, bathe your allergic child and rinse or wash his or her hair every night to decrease the amount of pollen and dust taken into bed. Change sheets weekly and wash towels every two or three days.

Breakfast of Champions

Don’t even think about letting your child skip breakfast! It’s the most important meal of the day because it gives kids the energy to concentrate in class and kick starts their metabolism for the day, says Julie Russell, outpatient dietician at Blanchard Valley Health System.

“Ideally, try to include two or three food groups. It’s important to include protein from the milk or meat group because it helps to stabilize blood sugars and your child will feel more satisfied until lunch,” she says.

Russell recommends five healthy breakfast choices that don’t take a lot of time to prepare:

Breakfast Tips

Whole-wheat bagel or English muffin spread with peanut butter or light cream cheese

Bowl of cereal topped with fresh fruit like strawberries, blueberries, peaches or bananas (stick to cereal with less sugar and some fiber)

Fruit smoothie or yogurt dressed up with sprinkled granola

Breakfast taco, a tortilla with scrambled egg and melted cheese

Whole grain muffin with a hardboiled egg

How to Stay Organized

Practices, assignments and forms, oh my! Does it seem like an insurmountable task to keep track of it all? Local organizational expert Melissa Terhark, owner of Staged 2 Sell by Melissa, a home staging, organizing and interior re-design business, offers tips for making a hectic school year a little less crazy.

1. Create a family command center. It’s a place in the house (it doesn’t have to be large) where you can post activities and important information. “Often times using a simple cork board or chalkboard is all you need,” says Terhark. “It’s a quick DIY project.”

2. Get the whole family involved. Don’t become the only organizer in your family! Have your kids help you develop a system, and make them active participants in keeping the whole family running smoothly.

3. Schedule a weekly family planning meeting—and stick to it! Use the time to discuss sports schedules, homework assignments and more. You can also plan meals during this time. “It doesn’t take long, and it can be a nice time to connect as a family before the week’s events pull everyone in different directions.”

4. Find a system that works. Every family is different, says Terhark, so no one system works for everyone. Families with young children often prefer something visual like a wall calendar while families of older kids and teens often prefer to use electronic apps to keep track of everything.

5. Remember, no system of full proof. It’s OK to have a sense of humor when you forget something—like your child’s snack day— or when everything doesn’t always fall perfectly in place. “It happens and life will go on!”

Using SMART Phones Smarter

Access to smartphones, tablets and iPads by young children is quickly becoming the norm in our technologically advanced American lifestyle. It’s no wonder the “powers that be” in the electronics world have created learning apps geared toward schoolchildren. Just a quick perusal of Apple’s App store shows a great number of free apps touted to enhance spelling, science and math lessons previously learned as well as improving fine motor skills. Many teachers suggest using smartphones and iPads to help bridge the gap summer often creates. On iPhones, just searching “Summer Bridge Apps” brings to attention many games, some that can be further sorted by grade level. Cosmic Quest is specifically marketed by the Summer Bridge brand and offers both math and spelling games within the one game.

Linda Smith, a 5th grade teacher at Toledo Catholic Diocese, recommends the iPad and smartphone app Story Maker. “Students love to create characters and write their own stories,” she says.

“Hoodamath is full of math games that cover a wide variety of topics.” Smith also likes the website “It is a great resource for students to sharpen their reading skills with fiction and nonfiction stories and games. They will enjoy that everything is read to them.”

Changing Bedtimes

Bedtime is a challenging time for many families, and the onset of the school year makes the transition from long summer evenings to early school nights an unwelcome priority. Who wants to go to bed while it’s still light out?

Kristy Voss, mom to Bailey, 8, Paige, 9, Eden, 11, Jordan, 12, Alexis, 15 and Michael, 16, in Toledo, makes it fun for her kiddos. “Two weeks before school starts in the fall, we go back to our school bedtime. They make a game out of it. If the younger kids go to bed all week at their 8pm bedtime, then they get to stay up until 9pm on Friday.” She also staggers bedtimes, making it easier for her to give attention to each one in the evening. “I have set times for age groups in my home. The 8 and 9 year olds go to bed at 8 pm, the 11 and 12 year olds go to bed at 8:30, and the 15 and 16 year olds go to bed at 9:30.”

In order for them to be at their healthiest and most attentive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least ten hours of sleep for elementary-aged children and between nine and ten hours for teens. Creating a bedtime routine is the best way to incorporate good sleep habits for the whole year.


Bullying comes in many forms – physical harm, threats, gossip, intimidation, name-calling, the exclusion or isolation of another person. Students today not only encounter bullies on the bus and playground, but online.

When children or teens use computers or computerized machines to intentionally and repeatedly cause harm or discomfort through verbal aggression it’s called cyber-bullying, says Amanda Byers, school psychologist at Findlay City Schools. Here’s how you can make sure your child doesn’t become a victim of cyber-bullying:

-Establish open lines of communication with your child regarding their electronic devise usage. “Ask your child what they like to do when they are online, and ask them about their online friends.”

-Discuss rules and boundaries for usage. In fact, you might want to develop a contract regarding cell phone and internet usage. You can find samples contracts online at

-Make sure your child knows what personal information is inappropriate for sharing online.

-Monitor your child’s electronic communication usage, and make sure he/she knows you will be periodically checking their webpage history, friend list, social profiles, blogs, etc. “The increased availability of the internet, with smartphones and public computers, can make it extremely difficult to monitor a child’s behavior. At home, it’s beneficial to restrict the use of electronic devices to shared living areas.”

Money Savvy Tips

Moms share tips on how you can stock up on school supplies and new clothes without spending a ton.

“I was buying two or three cheaper backpacks a year for my son. I decided to spend a little more and bought a backpack from a trusted name brand company (LL Bean). My son will be in 5th grade, and he has been using this same backpack for several years now. At the end of the year, I toss it in the washer and it’s ready for the next year.” –Tracy Long, Findlay

“Start early, shop the sales, and buy more than you need. I hate buying crayons or colored pencils in January that cost three times as much.” – Melissa Stanton, Findlay

“I keep the school supply list in my purse and stop shopping as soon as I get it. I never know what clearance deals I’ll find so having the list with me comes in handy. I’ve even found schools supplies that are being closed out at the grocery store!” –Mary Ellen Cramer, Findlay

“I do the majority of my clothes shopping at Twice Blessed Children’s Consignment Sale, held at the Findlay First Church of the Nazarene on Broad Avenue every April and September. I also sell with them (and I’m a volunteer!) so I use those profits to offset the cost of other school things we need. In April, my very picky 16-year-old scored a pair of $85 Miss Me jean shorts for $4 so she was pretty excited about that!”– Amy Mead, Findlay

Know any more Money Savvy tips? Let us know…