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Getting Kids Ready for School Again

Even though the summer sun remains strong, teachers are beginning to unlock their classrooms and prepare for the coming school year by organizing and adding new features to their workspaces. Taking a cue from them, it's a good time to spend a day helping your children prepare their own workspaces at home. A good foundation will get them off to a great start to the new school year.

-- Clean up: First things first. You cannot create and assess a satisfactory workspace at home for your child unless you start with a cleaned up area. Make four piles: Keep, Donate, Store and Throw Out to make room for the new year's necessities. For instance, unwanted or unneeded papers from last school year should wind up in the Store or Throw Out piles according to your determination. Purchase a plastic storage bin to put what you want to store as mementoes, then toss the rest.

-- Go through the desk your child will be using and assign a spot or drawer for everything. If your child is not naturally organized (I empathize!) label the inside of each drawer with that drawer's contents so he may be able to put everything where it belongs. No desk? Use boxes, purchased or leftover from shoes, etc. to store items and assign a shelf in a closet to hold the boxes.

-- Whether or not your student has his or her own desk, or if the kitchen table is serving double duty as the assigned homework spot, there needs to be good lighting, comfortable chairs and plenty of elbow room. I also like to include a set-up that can be used for cutting, pasting and coloring without damaging floors and tables. This can be as simple as an old plastic tablecloth or a heavy duty piece of cardboard that can be placed on the table or floor. If your child is going to work on the floor, don't forget to include good lighting there as well.

-- Do you already have a list of school supplies needed for the coming year? If not, call your child's school to see if they have a supply list. Not all schools offer one prior to the start of school and this is especially true as your children get into the upper grades. However, each year, some common tools will be needed (and it's a good idea to keep some of these items on hand in the event a last minute assignment becomes due).

--Pencils with good erasers; a sharpener and a pencil case
--Glue sticks
--Highlighters, markers and colored pencils
--Lined paper or extra spiral notebooks
--Binder
--Presentation folder
--Paper clips
--Stapler
--Poster board
--Scissors

--This is a perfect time to review your children's home library. Are there any books that can be passed on to younger readers at home, your church, playgroup or your school's library?

-- Has sun in the fun added inches to your child? Have your child try on school clothes from last year to see if they still fit, what needs to be altered or replaced. Can you pass the clothes on to someone else?

PARENTING TIP FROM THE TRENCHES:

After the chores are done and each sharpened pencil, fresh stack of paper and packet of glue sticks has found their place, treat your child to his favorite restaurant or an hour or two at the bowling alley. It's important to balance the workload with fun.

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