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Source: Lotta Larson, 785-532-5135,
News release prepared by: Rosie Hoefling, 785-532-2535,

Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010


MANHATTAN -- In addition to pencils, markers and wide-rule paper, parents should add a few back-to-school tips to the school supply list this fall, according to a Kansas State University education expert.

Lotta Larson, assistant professor of elementary education at K-State, said parents can get their child's school year off to a good start by taking preparatory steps during the final weeks of summer.

"One of the most important things parents can do for really young students is to get them familiar with the school beforehand. They should visit the school, especially if they're new to the area," Larson said.

Having a child meet fellow classmates before school starts ensures that a child won't feel alone or anxious on the first day, Larson said. She suggests parents get a copy of their child's class roster and set up a few summer play dates with other classmates.

Many elementary schools host a back-to-school night to help parents and students get acquainted with their peers, teachers and school. Attending this event helps lay the foundation for a strong parent-teacher relationship, Larson said.

"If they can't come to the back-to-school night, parents should stop by the classroom sometime to get to know the teacher. This helps with setting that mutual goal of doing what is best for that particular child," Larson said. "I think that's really important. A strong partnership really benefits kids."

Other tips Larson recommends to parents to prepare for of the first day of school include:

* Getting their kids back on a schedule. Larson suggests putting kids to bed early and waking them up at their usual school time a week or two before school starts. Eating breakfast should be part of the routine.

* Reading to their child before bed. Once parents implement an early bedtime, Larson said they should spend a few minutes each night reading to their child. It can help improve the student's reading and listening skills, which are essential components to learning in a classroom setting.

* Preparing school supplies. When purchasing the items on the standard school supply list, Larson said parents shouldn't be surprised if teachers have additional requests. She recommends checking with the teacher for further details.

* Deciding on school lunches and menus. Parents should decide if their child will eat lunch at school or bring one from home. If going the sack-lunch route, Larson said it's important to discuss menu possibilities with children first to make sure the meals are healthy and enjoyable, and to make trading lunch items with other students less likely.

* Practicing the daily routine. Larson said getting to school on time is very important, especially the first day. Practicing the morning routine before school starts can ensure efficiency, she said. Parents also should discuss how the child will get home from school. If the student will walk or take the bus, she suggests practicing the child's route to make sure he or she gets home safely.

* Discussing major transitions. Changing schools or going from half-day kindergarten to full-day first grade can be difficult for students. Larson recommends discussing changes beforehand to ease a child's worries or fears.