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Tips for a fun, safe and productive new school year

Published 3:53pm Saturday, August 25, 2012

It’s A- B-C!  As easy as 1-2-3!  It’s Back to School Time for you and me!

That’s right!   Those few words that most children…and some teachers dread hearing are coming to reality this week!

Parents remember to be patient and try to keep a positive attitude.  Those virtues will transfer to your “little darlings” and may help them to have a good school year.

By all means, please drive s-l-o-w-l-y through the School Zones.  Children are pretty excited now about school, their friends, new clothing, backpacks, etc and are not paying much attention to the swift passing cars

Here are some health and safety tips that can help… MAKE THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF SCHOOL EASIER to manage for both you and your children.

• First, parents fill out the Emergency Information Cards properly and return to the schools promptly.

• Remind your children that they are not the only students who are a bit uneasy about the first few days of school. Teachers know that students are anxious and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.

• Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun to learn new things. They will see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh their memory about previous years, when they may have returned home after the first few days with high spirits because they had a good time.

• Find another child or buddy in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school or ride with on the bus.

• If you feel it is appropriate, drive your children (or walk with them) to school and pick them up on the first few days of school.

• The temperature has been unusually HOT this summer, so remind your children to drink plenty of water during the day and after school.

BACKPACK SAFETY

• Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.

• Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back.  The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s body weight.

• Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.

• If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs.

TRAVELING TO AND FROM SCHOOL

Review theses basic rules with your youngster:

Walking to School

• Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.

• Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.

• Bright colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.
School Bus:

• Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.

• Do not get out of your seat and move around while the bus is moving.  Stay seated during the trip

• Check to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street to get on the bus.

• Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver when crossing the street.

• Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building
Cars:

• All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age- and size-appropriate-car-safety seat or booster seat.

• Your child should ride in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.

• Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4’ 9” in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, not the stomach.

• All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (i.e. when carpooling), move the front-passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly.

• Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school.  You should require seat belt use; limit the number of teen passengers, do not allow your teen to drive while eating, drinking, cell phone conversations or texting to prevent driver distraction.  Limit nighttime driving and driving in inclement weather.
Bike

• Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.

• Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.

• Use appropriate hand signals.

• Respect traffic lights and stop signs.

• Wear bright color clothing to increase visibility.

• Know the “rules of the road.”  (http://www.aap.org/family/bicycle.htm)

EATING DURING THE SCHOOL DAY

• Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.

• Try to get your child’s school to stock healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100 percent fruit juice in the vending machines.

• Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Restrict your child’s soft drink consumption.

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