2015 Back to School Guide

. July 31, 2015.

Making A Smooth Transition Back

by Jessica Kempf

Parents are cheering and the kids are groaning…
it’s time for school once again! It’s a new year full of successes and challenges, making friends, fun activities, and the dreaded homework. So how can you ensure you’re ready for this school year? Our guide, filled with advice from experts, is here to help!

A new school year often brings a chance for your child to make new friends, which can be both exciting and scary. We consulted two local experts to learn some ways parents can help children thrive socially. Amanda Byers, School Psychologist for Findlay City Schools, explains, “Parents can assist their children in exploring various extracurricular activities (both within and outside of school) which can provide children with a structured environment to meet peers with similar interests. For parents of younger children, scheduling play dates for your child is a great way to provide them with additional time to get to know other children and for parents to become acquainted with their child's new friends.

Christie Lammers, also a school psychologist for Findlay City Schools, encourages parents to give children the proper social “tools” by teaching a child to:

  • Know an appropriate way to introduce yourself ("Hi, my name is …")
  • Ask if someone would like to play with them
    ("Would you like to play four-square?")
  • Give a compliment ("I like your purple headband, that's my favorite color").

Additionally, Christie points out, “It is important for children to know positive social skills such as turn taking, sharing, and using good manners when playing with peers.” Some ways both Amanda and Christie suggest working on these skills include:

  • Modeling appropriate skills in social situations
  • Role playing different social situations and how to respond
  • Reading social stories or books on how to handle different situations
  • Playing board games with your child; introduce and discuss taking turns, following rules, and how to graciously win and lose.

While summer often brings a very welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the school year, soon we will be back in the swing of another school year. According to Barbara Gazette, Liberty-Benton School Counselor, “regular routines are really important with elementary students. Whatever the routine is, consistency is the key. Routines will help children become more self-sufficient by knowing what is expected.” Barbara recommends that year-long routines be established for the following:

  • Bedtimes
  • Mornings
  • Homework completion
  • Packing everything up for the next school day
  • Showing parents important information such as graded papers, notes from the school and newsletters

Barbara further explains, “If the child resides at more than one residence, it's helpful to the student for both households to closely resemble similar routines. Schools serve breakfast to students to help assure that everyone has a chance to start each day with a full belly.”

For older children and teens, the key is getting enough sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average adolescent needs nine hours of sleep each night in order to focus the next day in school. This is a general guideline as some may need more and some may need less. If your teen often seems drowsy in the mornings it may be time to try an earlier bedtime.

1. Sales Tax Holiday Thanks to the Ohio Senate, 2015 brings a new way to save on back to school shopping… with no sales tax. August 7-9, 2015 will represent a one-time sales tax holiday in which the following items are exempt from sales and use tax:

  • An item of clothing priced at $75 or less
  • An item of school supplies priced at $20 or less
  • An item of school instructional material priced at $20 or less


For more information about the sales tax holiday, go to www.tax.ohio.gov

2. Buy (and Sell) Used! Consignment stores and sales are an excellent way to sell clothing and shoes that your child no longer needs. Once Upon a Child was voted reader’s choice for best place to shop for kids’ clothing in Findlay. Teens can head next door to Plato’s Closet for stylish finds at great prices.

Additionally, students who attend St. Michael the Archangel School can participate in a used school uniform sale. Vicky Bihn, organizer of this year’s sale, explains the purpose, “Children grow so fast and uniforms can be expensive. We hold the sale so that students at St. Michael’s can purchase uniforms and shoes at a great price while also allowing parents to sell or donate old uniforms that their children can no longer fit into.” The sales take place in the summer and again in late winter/early spring, allowing parents to stock up on next season’s necessities.

St. Michael the Archangel School, 419-423-2138. www.findlaystmichaelschool.org

It’s Monday morning and your child is complaining of a bellyache. Do you send them to school assuming their symptoms can be blamed on a bit of back-to-school jitters? Or do you keep them home, trusting their judgment to know when they aren’t feeling well? We spoke with Dr. Andrew Ritz, pediatrician at Blanchard Valley Pediatrics, to learn the guidelines parents should follow. Dr. Ritz points out the two big indicators given by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that a child is too sick to attend school:

  1. The presence of a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
  2. The child is too sick to function well at school or would require extra care in a daycare setting.

These two guidelines will cover most of the common illnesses children will experience during a typical school year. However, Dr. Ritz explains, “when to keep a child home and when they are contagious don’t always line up. Most children are contagious a day before the fever appears and for a period of time after the fever breaks. But they should attend school as long as no fever is present and they will function well at school without extra care.”

The AAP also suggests keeping a child home if he or she is showing signs of other contagious diseases or conditions such as vomiting or diarrhea, strep throat, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), head lice and more. Parents should use their best judgment and consult their pediatrician with questions.

Students who purchase a school lunch can count on the school providing a balanced meal that meets USDA Dietary Guidelines for each age level. Teresa Welty, Director of Findlay City Schools Food Service Department, explains that nutrition is the top priority in school lunches. “We are all about the balanced meal.” Every school lunch includes an item from each of the following food groups:

  1. Meat or source of protein
  2. Vegetables
  3. Fruit
  4. Grains
  5. Low-fat or non-fat milk (dairy)

“Additionally, we use all whole grains for bread items and incorporate a variety of different vegetables each week,” explains Teresa.

Parents who pack lunches can follow the same guidelines to be sure their kids have enough energy to get them through the day. “The main goal is to provide a balanced lunch including each of the five food groups. “Students can always purchase milk in the school cafeteria,” says Teresa.

Another factor to consider is how much time children have to eat lunch. “The lunch period at our school is twenty minutes, so I pack food that is prepped and easy-to-eat,” advises Audrey Kruse, local mom of Luke, 9, Peter, 7, Jude, 3, and Saige, 1. “We do a lot of cheese slices, lunch meats and wheat crackers to make your own sandwiches and I also include a fruit and a vegetable.”

For a variety of nutrition tips and meal ideas go to www.choosemyplate.gov.

Children should be getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This should include aerobic activity, including brisk walking or running, muscle strengthening activities like gymnastics, and bone strengthening activities, such as jumping rope. On a school day, this can present a challenge as children spend so much time at their desks. So, how can you incorporate physical activities on challenging days due to weather or busy schedules?

We turned to Kristi St. Amour, mom to Gabe, 9, Camille, 7, and Claire, 5, to provide the following “stay active” tips that work for her family of five:

  • Play outside as much as possible, whatever the weather may be. Splash in rain puddles, run in sprinklers in the heat, rake leaves in the fall and have a snowball fight in the winter.
  • Evening dance parties in the kitchen are always a big hit. We also like to play Wii Just Dance as a family.
  • Play a game of hide and seek. Let kiddos run from room to room trying to find the person who is hiding.
  • Go to an empty parking lot and have the kids ride their bikes around.
  • Visit an indoor pool when the weather cools down. (Birchaven Village or Findlay Family YMCA)
  • Visit Findlay’s parks and take walks on the nature paths. Litzenberg Memorial Woods is our favorite!

The sky is the limit! Choosing activities that allow you to spend time together and that your children enjoy will make those 60 minutes fly by.

Today’s students have a wealth of knowledge and resources at their fingertips. Educators of every grade are incorporating technology into their classrooms regularly as Jena Meloy, second grade teacher at Whittier Elementary School, can attest to. “I use the Smart Board daily, and it's always very interactive with students. We also use our classroom iPad along with several other shared school iPads on a daily basis. The students this past year used them to listen to stories through Bookflix online. They seemed to really enjoy it!”

For older students, ask your child’s teacher what apps he or she uses in the classroom and ask your child for input.

LauraLee VonLehmdan, mother of three, weighs in on another great app her kids love. EmmaLee, 6, and Justy's, 11, favorite app is Overdrive. This is a reading/book app that can be linked to the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library and you can "checkout" books for free from the library's e-book collection. Another advantage of this app is that you can carry a lot of books around with you without the weight. Mom's favorite part is when the books are due, the app automatically "returns" the books. No more searching for missing books, running last minute to the library to return the books, or late fees. “Perfect for this busy mom!”

Jena’s top three favorite apps for elementary school students:

  1. ABC Mouse
  2. Sumdog
  3. Epic! Books