Tips for parents to start school year off right

The start of school means parents have a lot of homework, from signing forms to teaching kids how to keep their backpacks organized. Here are some organizing principles to get the school year off to a good start.

Get a folder for yourself

Start off the school year with a binder of your own in the house for all the school papers, fliers, website passwords, suggested reading lists, the school phone directory and carpool information in one neat notebook. Create one for each child at the start of the school year to hold papers that might be needed later. The most useful type is a binder with dividers for subjects that have pockets so you can easily jam in a handout or newsletter.

An organized backpack

From the first day of school "assign a home" for everything in the backpack. Use the main section for books and binders. Signed permission slips and communications between teachers and parents can go in an outer pocket. The remaining small pouches are for pens, pencils, calculators and personal items.

Make it a habit

Sort through the backpack with your child every day, either right after school or after dinner. Make it a routine. Sign permission forms and mark events on the calendar at the same time. Don't set them aside to do later because more than likely it will get forgotten in the blinding amount of paperwork that comes home from school.

Give it a home

When finished, put the backpack and anything else that has to leave in the morning, such as library books or soccer cleats, in a "launching pad" near the door. This could be a chair, table or, even better, a laundry basket so you can tote everything in one trip.

Pick a safe backpack

These days, kids look like pack mules as they cart school books, supplies and lunches from home to school and back again. As a result, kids can get headaches, back pain and other health issues from a bad backpack. Tampa pediatric orthopedic surgeon David Siambanes will give a free talk from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday on how to select and use a backpack. The talk is free, but you have to call 1-855-269-3666 to register. It will be held at St. Joseph's Hospital's Medical Arts Building auditorium, 3001 W Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa.

Tips for parents to start school year off right 07/30/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 30, 2011 5:31am]

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