It is a widely known fact that with the onset of the new school year comes illness. A popular teacher “gift” is a gallon-sized bottle of hand sanitizer and for good reason. The CDC estimates that the average elementary school child gets eight to twelve colds or cases of the flu each year.
Keeping kids away from school while they are sick greatly assists in stopping the spread of germs. Some of the best advice for parents struggling with when to keep sick kids home from school comes from Jennifer Gose, a nurse at the Pediatric Center, Inc. of Toledo. “Generally, if your child has a fever, a major cough or any rash, then don’t send them to school.” Kids can go back to school when their pediatrician or doctor no longer deems them contagious.
Perhaps the most effective way to keep kids clear of serious illness is to be sure they are vaccinated against preventable diseases.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2014 immunization schedule, children between the ages of 4-6 should be receiving the following immunizations: DTap, IPV, MMR and Varicella. Children between the ages of 11-12 should be receiving Tdap, meningococcal and begin a three dose series of HPV4, the human papilloma virus vaccine. A meningococcal booster should be given at 16. The AAP also recommends a yearly flu shot for most children. Keeping up to date on these recommended immunizations can help keep many illnesses at bay and most school districts require records proving they have been received.
Breakfast of Champions
Many parents simply do not have the time in the mornings to make a full breakfast spread. One way to be sure the kids have a good breakfast on weekday mornings is to make it convenient. Why not make a double batch of French toast or pancake mix on Saturday morning? Substitute a flavored yogurt or sour cream for some of the milk in the recipe and add chopped cooked sausage to enrich them. Freeze separately for a few hours then store them in a freezer bag. Parents (and kids!) can easily grab a few and pop in the toaster. Voila! Weekend-worthy breakfast before school!
Lea Wuellner, mom to Deagan, 10 and Dominic, 18 months, in West Toledo, makes quick and healthy breakfast burritos in the morning. “My ten-year-old old stepson loves them. Egg whites with onions and cheese in a whole grain or veggie tortilla shell with salsa. It takes five minutes to make and the kids can eat it in the car if they have to.”
Try a recipe from Pinterest. guaranteed to keep kids full until lunchtime
Strawberry Banana French Toast Casserole 6 slices of cubed bread (any kind)
1 mushed banana
6 ounces of diced strawberries
½ cup milk
½ tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 375°. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray. Place cubed bread in dish. Mix remaining ingredients in separate bowl until well combined. Pour evenly over bread and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Extra Curricular Activities
As many parents know, probably from loads of negative experience, if the energy is not expelled in an appropriate and timely way, it will come out in the form of misbehavior, mischief and mess. During the school year, this is especially true because of the many hours kids are spending in the studying pose: primarily sitting still and quiet. Extracurricular activities assist in keeping these at bay by offering kids an extra outlet for play as well as learning.
David Klepaski, Program Director for Youth Sports, Aquatics and Teen Leaders Club at the Wolf Creek YMCA, says extracurricular activities are really an extension of the learning process for kids in education as well as spirituality and maturity. “Extracurricular activities such as swim lessons, volunteering and youth sports really try to reinforce what kids are learning at school and at home to help make it a reality. What they learn at basketball practice, things such as, “hard work pays off,” “make sure you listen to your coach,” “practice makes perfect,” “try your best,” etc. applies and works in the classroom and at home. Physical activity can improve your body of course but also your spirit and mind!”
The YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo’s fall session runs from September 2 until October 25, and has programs for all ages and interests. Drama, dance and music are just a few of the arts and humanities programs being offered. Learning to swim, martial arts and sports programs are also offered year round.
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 INFOhio.org. “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.”
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 8 pm bedtime, then they get to stay up until 9 pm 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.
With the onset of puberty, hormonal fluctuations and normal everyday stresses for kids, it’s important to be sure to eliminate any extra stressors, specifically bullying. Cyberbullying is perhaps the easiest form of bullying to combat. Monitoring kids’ internet access and friend choices on popular social media sites can be done by creating and sticking to limits of social media screen time. Many schools now have meetings with students regarding bullying and peer mediation programs to assist kids in learning how to diffuse situations together with teamwork and understanding.
“It is important for parents, as the primary educators, to express their disgust and discontent for bullies,” says Linda Smith, a 5th grade teacher for the Toledo Catholic Diocese. “Parents need to set an example of the attitude that they want their child to have.”
Stopbullying.gov notes warning signs that a child is being bullied as: unexplainable injuries, lost or destroyed belongings, faking illness, coming home hungry because they did not eat their lunch, avoidance of social situations and behaviors relating to depression. It is also noted that kids who are bullying also have signs that point to wrongdoing: unexplained extra money or belongings, blaming others, getting into fights and having friends who are known to bully. Parents can talk with their children and encourage them to seek out safe adults they trust to discuss how they are feeling and what they are experiencing.
Money Savvy Tips
For families with kids in school, Back to School is a holiday – a scary one. Jaime Clark is mom to NaLeenah, 6, JorgeAnn, 7, Nelson, 9, Macey, 13, and MiKayla, 16, in Sylvania. “With five kids, shopping for school clothes is hard! My teens are picky, so I set limits on what they can buy at the mall.” For her younger ones, she shops at The Children’s Place and Twice But Nice.
Parents spend nearly as much time and money planning for Back to School as they do planning for Christmas! Retailers have caught wind of this and now there are more chances than ever to save on the supplies and clothes your kids need.
Amazon.com and eBay are great places to find deals on new and used textbooks, calculators and headphones.
The Children’s Place has a rewards program and multiple sales per month on their adorable children’s clothing and accessories.
ShopSavvy, an Android app, scans barcodes and informs the shopper if there are better deals at other retailers.
Meijer has mPerks, an online coupon cutting program that could help save 5% on general merchandise like lunch packing accessories, supplies and clothing, as well as other savings like Summer Bucks.
Signing up for emails from your favorite stores can offer discounts, too.