2019 Back to School Guide

. July 31, 2019.

5 Tips For A Good Year

By Emily Remaklus

New backpacks full of school supplies are ready to go, the first day of school outfit is picked out, and open house is just around the corner. It’s great to start off the year strong, but how can you help ensure that your child is successful throughout the entire school year? As a teacher myself, I’m hoping these five pieces of advice will help lead your family to a great year!

1. Get to know the teacher. Teaching is a group effort, and teachers love to know that you’re onboard. Most schools have open houses at the beginning of the year where parents are able to bring their children to meet the teacher(s) and see their classroom. This is a great way for kids to get comfortable in the new space, and for you to introduce yourself. If you can’t make open house, don’t worry! Many teachers send home contact information during the first week. Send an email or give the teacher a call during the first weeks of school to introduce yourself. Be sure to include some information about your child too. What are their interests? Where have they struggled academically in the past? This not only begins a dialogue and good relationship between you and the teacher, but it also allows the teacher to have some insight into your child’s individual needs.

2. Communicate. Communication is key to building a relationship. Many teachers now are using apps to stay in contact. I use an app called REMIND which sends text message reminders to parents and students about projects, tests, and papers. These apps are a great way for parents to know what’s going on, but if you have individual concerns about your child its best to send an email or make a call. I find emailing to be the best form of communication because I’m teaching throughout the day and it can be difficult to take parents’ calls. Teachers love when parents are invested in their child’s education, but do keep in mind that, depending on their grade level, a teacher may teach 25-125 students, so try to ask your child first about that missing homework assignment or bad grade on a test before contacting the teacher right away. Also, take advantage of conferences. If you can’t make the designated conference times, see if you can schedule one that would work for you.

3. Keep your child’s teacher informed. It’s amazing how quickly a child’s behavior can change due to circumstances happening outside of school. Keeping your child’s teacher informed on changes at home — divorce, death in the family, birth of a new sibling — can help the teacher better understand how to help your child. If the teacher knows that there is a change in the student’s life, then we can be more understanding and forgiving if the student struggles more in school during that time. Teachers are also great listeners, and we can help the child through the transition.

4. Volunteer. For younger grades, parent volunteers are essential and a huge help. Taking 25 students on a field trip or hosting a holiday classroom party can be difficult for one teacher, so your help as a volunteer can make a huge difference. Older grades don’t need parent volunteers quite as often, but as kids grow up they get more involved in clubs and organizations that require fundraising. Allowing and encouraging your child to participate in those fundraising events takes a lot of stress off the teacher adviser for that organization. Plus it’s a great way for your child to learn new skills.

5. Loosen the reins. As your child gets older, start to let them advocate for themselves. As important as communication is between you and your child’s teacher, it is equally as important, if not more important, for your child to communicate their concerns to their teacher. When you notice a problem with a grade, or you want to know how your child can pick their grades up, have your child ask the teacher first. This helps them gain more independence and it shows that their education is also their responsibility. Teaching is a team effort, not just between a parent and teacher, but also between the student and teacher.

Tax free weekend

Get those school supply lists ready, mom and dad! Ohio’s tax free weekend is almost here. Starting on Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 4, you won’t have to pay Ohio sales tax on the following:

  • Clothing that is $75 per item or less.
  • School supplies priced at $20 per item or less.
  • School instructional material priced at $20 per item or less.


Preparing For An IEP Meeting

Getting ready
By Jamie Lober

Every child grows and develops at his own pace. “You need to have an idea of developmental milestones and if he has met them or not,” said Sarah Hall of Oregon Counseling Center. When you talk to your pediatrician and identify any delays, it is important to relay that information to the school so you can ensure your child is able to succeed. Fortunately there is a plan available to make sure he does exactly that.

Individual education plans, commonly referred to as IEPs, can include a variety of options for different students. When you know what questions to ask, what to bring and do before the meeting and understand how to construct, follow up and check up on the IEP, your child will have an easier time navigating through the educational process.

Get organized

A binder is one of the best tools you can have. “You might want to include tabs like evaluations/assessments, teacher conferences, communication with school, work samples, ongoing assessments and resources/information on your child’s disability,” said Tammy Alexander, certified dyslexia therapist at Alexander/Armus Reading Specialists.

Ask what is required of you before the meeting. “They send you a packet with the information you need but you need to bring a birth certificate, social security number and utility bills proving where you live,” said Hall. You can expect with little ones that they may possibly be observed playing, while older kids may get feedback from teachers or others involved in their care/education.

Know what you’re dealing with

If you know about your child’s disability and do some searching or join organizations with missions related to that disability, you can find out what accommodations or programs may be best suited for him. “For example if your child has dyslexia you want the intervention specialist who works with him to be using structured literacy reading programs to remediate his deficits such as Orton-Gillingham or Wilson Reading System rather than embedded phonics or whole language programs,” said Alexander.

Jot down your questions, concerns and observations.

Be mindful not to forget anything and do not be afraid to ask the school for a draft IEP before the meeting so you can read it over in advance and know what to expect. One of the best things you can do is to encourage your child to mix with those who are developing based on targeted benchmarks. “Preschools are set up with children without challenges and children with challenges mixed together so the kids can see what the school is looking for when it comes to appropriate behaviors modeled for them,” said Hall.


Remember that you know your child better than anyone. Communicate his strengths, struggles and needs. To be effective you have to be familiar with your child’s learning disability.
The more you read up on it, the better job you can do. Accommodations can be anything from speech or occupational therapy to having more time or a separate place to take a test that
is quieter.

Give consent

Be aware that you may be asked to sign a draft of the IEP at the end of the meeting. “It is important to understand the accommodations and services that your child is getting before you sign and give your consent,” said Alexander.

Do not feel pressured to sign at the meeting. You have a right to take the draft home and review it. “If you do not understand what is being said, ask for an explanation. You can always ask to schedule another IEP meeting if you have further questions or concerns that you would like to discuss before signing,” said Alexander.

Do not feel bad if your child requires an IEP

“Just because he has an IEP does not mean he will always have it. But an IEP will get him the services he needs so he can be kept in the less restrictive environment,” said Hall. The idea is that the plan is tailored to your child’s needs.

Cell Phones For Your Student?

Simple tips for a safe year ahead

Are you considering giving your child a cell phone at the start of the school year? Some parents find it helpful to have an instant connection to communicate with their student, especially to know their whereabouts once the bell rings. Giving your child a phone doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. Here are a few helpful tips from Andrew Moore-Crispin, Director of Content of Ting Mobile.

1. Give the phone a clean slate. Ting’s survey reported that 61% of kids’ first phones were hand-me-downs. If you’re giving your child a gently used phone, remove all existing data (photos, emails, browser history), leaving only the standard pre-installed apps like email, phone and messaging.

2. Connect to Wi-Fi and set mobile data limits. The last thing you want is kids using a ton of mobile data, so defaulting to your home Wi-Fi prevents data shocks on your phone bill.

3. Add important and emergency numbers. Make sure to add important and backup phone numbers (parents, neighbors, grandparents, nanny) so kids can get in touch from day one.

4. Enable parental controls. Think of parental controls as training wheels so kids can use the Internet respectfully and responsibly. iOS and Android devices offer parental control systems for to limit screen time and restrict certain apps.

5. Turn your child’s phone into a GPS Tracker. Google Maps has a cool feature that lets you share locations in real-time, so parents can see where kids are and supervise remotely. This is a great safety tip for slightly older kids who wish to go out with their friends on their own while letting parents know where they are during the day.


Dear Daughter

A Note To My Little Girl As She Prepares For Kindergarten
by Justin Feldkamp

Dear Molly,

You’re about to begin kindergarten. I know you’re ready and I know you’re excited and I know you might be afraid. It’s a new school with new teachers and you don’t know who your classmates are going to be. It can be scary. It’s okay to be afraid but it’s also okay to try something new. I can’t wait to walk with you to the bus stop and see you off as you begin the next chapter in your young life.

Your smile melts my heart. Your vocabulary astounds me. Your expressions amaze me. Your artwork makes me think you’re a nine-year-old. Your speed on the base paths impresses me and your kindness fills our home. You love your baby dolls and take care of them so well. You clean your room and always want to make things look nice for others to see. You are certainly a wonderful, soon-to-be six year old girl at home. Don’t let others be afraid to see this wonderful girl at school, too.

Even when mom and dad aren’t around, we hope you remember the things we’ve taught you and talked about at home. We want you to be kind to others. Help your classmates and help your teacher by cooperating and listening. Always remember to say please and thank you. You can ask your teacher questions. If you don’t know how to do something, don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask someone for help. Sometimes juice boxes or milk cartons can be tricky to open. Ask for help.

There will be bigger kids on the school bus who can show you the way but always listen to the bus driver in order to stay safe. If someone makes fun of you for your smaller size, do not worry. Just tell them, “People come in all shapes and sizes.” Everyone deserves respect and it’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.

You’re going to do great in kindergarten and no matter what, you’ll always be my little girl.


(Note: Justin is the husband of Toledo Area Parent editor Kimberly Feldkamp.)


Kicking Off Kindergarten

Help your kindergartener score a smoother transition into school
by Christa Melnyk Hines

For many parents, kindergarten signals an important transition from the all-consuming baby and toddler years. Suddenly, your “baby” is expected to make more choices on her own, stay focused over a longer period of time, learn new skills and navigate a social circle with less oversight from you. Plan ahead to pave the road to a happier kindergarten transition for all.

Visit the school. Before school begins, attend school orientations and meet the teacher to help your child grow familiar with his new learning environment.

Calm kindergarten jitters. Build excitement and optimism for school. Shop together for a new backpack or lunchbox, school supplies and new clothes. “Even if parents are feeling nervous, they should do their best not to portray that to their child,” says Kathy Weller, a kindergarten teacher. “Be very upbeat about the upcoming new experience.”

Recognize friendly faces. Before school starts, arrange play dates with future classmates. A few familiar faces on the first day may help calm those nervous butterflies.

Read together. Reading to your child teaches valuable listening skills and creates an opportunity to help your child prepare for the kindergarten experience. Check out books like The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing and Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis.

Tackle a few skills. While knowing his colors, the ABCs and how to count to ten will give your child a head start, work on other skills like teaching him to tie his shoes and knowing his full name, phone number and birthday.

Plan transportation. Avoid transportation snafus by sticking to a plan and keeping your child (and the teacher) informed. If your child will ride the bus and is nervous, listen and reassure her. Drive the route ahead of time. Also, seek out a “bus buddy” for your child; that buddy can be a responsible older neighbor child or another bus-riding classmate. On the first day of school, arrive early at the bus stop. Introduce yourself and your child to the driver. Assure your child that you (or whoever you’ve designated), will be waiting for her when the bus returns after school.

Get good eats and sweet dreams. Make sure your new kindergartener gets plenty of rest and eats healthy meals, which will help him better manage the stress of the transition and stay focused during school. Wake up a little earlier to avoid a rushed first day.

Team up with the teacher. Share insights about your child’s strengths with the teacher to help her understand what motivates and interests your child. “Parents should approach school with the idea that the teacher has their child’s best interest at heart,” says Dr. Holly Schiffrin, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington, who specializes in child development and parenting practices. “The parent should convey that they are on the same team as the teacher (even if they have different ideas about how to assist their child).”

Manage adversity. Every child is bound to have a rough day. Encourage her to resolve her own problems and take responsibility for her actions. “Ask your child for her input and perspective, genuinely listen, acknowledge and empathize, and then shift the focus towards reaching solutions as a family and in unison with your teachers and school,” says parent coach Tom Limbert, author of Dad’s Playbook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Time. “Focus on giving your child the tools, morals and lessons she will need when not in your presence, which now will be more and more often.”

Mark the occasion. Celebrate your child’s first day of school with a special outing after school like a frozen yogurt, dinner out or a playdate at her favorite park. Who knows? You may find that initial celebration turns into an annual first-day-of-school tradition for your family.


Toledo Public Schools: A Closer Look

Diverse education options for students

Sometimes the typical teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic isn’t for everyone. Some students learn better by getting out of the traditional classroom and learning through experience. Toledo Public Schools understands that. Did you know they offer four different schools with specific focus for students in the district? Read on to learn more about each one and how your student can become involved.

Toledo Technology Academy is for incoming seventh, eighth and ninth graders interested in learning how things work. With a Career Tech- focused curriculum in Engineering and Science Technologies, students can earn college credits, industry credentials and employment through internships and apprenticeships. Toledo Technology Academy has business partnerships with more than 50 local companies so there are plenty of opportunities available. Graduates often go on to college to become engineers or have careers as machinists, electricians, machine operators, robotics technicians and more.

Aerospace & Natural Science Academy of Toledo opens this fall to incoming ninth and tenth graders. This new academy, located at Toledo Express Airport, also has a Career Tech-focused curriculum in growing industries such as aviation and aeronautics; animal science and management; urban agriculture and agribusiness; environmental sustainability and wildlife management. This academy gives students the opportunity for project-based, cross-curricular learning in a high-tech environment while earning college credit.

If your student wants to run a business one day, check out the Jones Leadership Academy of Business. This school focuses on a business-themed curriculum that includes marketing, finance and supply chain management. With small class sizes, separate wings for girls and boys and athletic and extracurricular activities, this school is a great fit for students who have big dreams in the business world. Admission is open to incoming seventh, eighth and ninth grade students. The school offers college prep classes for students in seventh through twelfth grade.

At Toledo Early College High School students can have a typical high school experience while simultaneously earning college credits. The curriculum is designed to accelerate students into college courses at the University of Toledo. Students in grades seven through 12 can earn an associate degree from UT or 60 or more college credits. On top of that, the school offers small classes in a family atmosphere.

All of the schools are currently accepting applications for this school year. You can find applications, information and more at tps.org/#HighSchools.


Superfood Snacks

Picking Foods That Fuel The Mind And Body
By Laurie Wurth-Pressel

Some foods are packed with so many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that nutrition experts have dubbed them “Super Foods.” Be sure to include these powerful and delicious snacks in your child’s lunchbox this school year.

Blueberries. They rank highest among all fruits for antioxidant activity. Try mixing them in yogurt if your child doesn’t like eating them plain.

Yogurt. This dairy product offers an excellent source of protein and calcium, as well as good bacteria for gut health. Some yogurt brands marketed toward kids contain a lot of sugar, however, so choose wisely.

Hard-boiled eggs. Purchase omega-3 eggs that contain higher amounts of fatty acids proven to benefit skin, allergies and brain function.

Watermelon. This juicy fruit will help your child stay hydrated and it’s loaded with vitamins A and C.

Avocado. This heart-healthy food contains monounsaturated fats and more than a dozen vitamins and minerals. Make a guacamole dip and serve with chips.

Carrots. Packed with carotene, carrots are excellent for eye health, reducing inflammation and boosting immunity. Serve with a side of ranch dip or shred into salads.

Oranges/tangerines. Rich in vitamin C, orange slices are a perfect choice during cold/flu season.

Corn. This vegetable contains thiamin, which is essential for energy production. Try sprinkling sweet corn on a salad.

Bananas. A rich source of potassium, bananas can help build strong bones. Your child may love them dipped in a low-fat chocolate sauce and then frozen for the lunch box.

Purple grapes. This tasty snack may be the reason why the French enjoy excellent health. Look for deep purple grapes which contain more flavonoid—a powerful antioxidant.

School Stats

Education Stats for 2018-19 School Year
by Kate Ingersoll

  • There are 54 private schools in Lucas County, Ohio, serving 13,900 students.
  • Student/teacher ratio is 14:1
  • 81% of the private schools are religiously affiliated (mostly Roman Catholic and Christian)
  • There are 36 charter schools in Lucas County, Ohio (no data on total numbers)
  • There are 135 public schools in Lucas County, Ohio, serving 71,200 students.
  • The student/teacher ratio is 19:1

Toledo Public Schools – 23,000 total students
41 Elementary/Middle Schools (K-8) – 15,400 students
10 High Schools (9-12) – 6,600 students
Graduation rate averages 70%

Perrysburg Schools – 5,509 total students
1 Preschool – 194 students
4 Elementary Schools (K-4) – 1,934 students
1 intermediate school (5-6) – 872 students
1 Junior High school (7-8) – 840 students
1 High School (9-12) – 1,669 students
Graduation rate averages 95.7%

Sylvania Schools – 7,842 total students
7 Elementary Schools (K-5) – 3,446 students
3 Junior High Schools (6-8) – 1,838 students
2 High Schools (9-12) – 2,412 students
Graduation rate averages 92.2%

Ottawa Hills Schools – 991 total students
1 Elementary School (K-6) – 498 students
1 Junior High School (7-8) – 179 students
Senior High School (9-12) – 314 students
Graduation rate averages 100%

Washington Local Schools – 7,040 total students
8 Elementary Schools (K-6) – 3,850 students
2 Junior Highs Schools (7-8) – 1,050 students
1 Senior High School (9-12) – 2,140 students
Graduation rate averages 86%

Anthony Wayne Schools – 4,404 total students
4 Elementary Schools – 1,530 students
1 Middle School – 659 students
1 Junior High School – 763 students
1 Senior High School – 1,452 students
Graduation rate averages 95.8%

Maumee City Schools – 2,302 total students
3 Elementary Schools (K-5) – 987 students
1 Junior Highs School (6-8) – 545 students
1 Senior High School (9-12) – 770 students
Graduation rate averages 95.7%