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Helping parents get ready for back-to-school

Summer is a time when routines and schedules go out the window, days are usually carefree and bedtimes are pushed back. But those relaxing days can make transitioning back to school difficult for both parents and students.

With some advance planning, however, the switch from summer to fall doesn’t have to hurt quite as much. There are some good resources for going back to school and you can also follow these easy tips:

Set sleep habits: Ease the transition back to early mornings by implementing a bedtime. Getting enough sleep is important for school performance. If your child stays up late in the summer, start setting back the bedtime in small increments until it’s back where you want it. Setting it back slowly will make early school hours easier to handle.

Study space: Create a specific place in the house for students to do homework, whether it’s at the kitchen table or in a room, and make sure there’s plenty of light and that it’s free from distractions. Set a consistent time for them to work, before dinner or right after school, so it becomes part of their daily routine.

Stay healthy: Kids tend to be more active in the summer. You can keep those habits going during the school year by adding physical activity to family time. Instead of watching TV or playing video games after dinner, try a sunset stroll. Maybe even sign up and train for a charity walk. It’s also important to pack a healthy lunch filled with protein, fruits, vegetables and water.

Schedule help: Before the year begins, figure out who will drop-off and pick-up your child each day and keep a calendar to remind yourself of after-school activities and special events. If your child needs help with homework or school projects, set aside library time or sign up for after-school tutoring. And be sure to keep an open dialogue with your child’s teacher so there won’t be any surprises about work expectations.

Spend less: Buying new clothes and school supplies can be stressful on your budget. You can save money by recycling certain supplies. Hunt for deals online, where you can find discounted prices on everything from uniforms to lined paper.

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Put “Safety” High on Your Back-to School Checklist

As you get your kids ready to go back to school, you’re probably busy making lists of school supplies you need to buy and scheduling doctor’s appointments for immunizations. One thing you don’t want to forget to do during this busy time of year is review back-to-school safety information with your kids.

Use these tips to help prevent accidents and to keep your kids safe at school:

Review basic street safety.

Whether your children take the bus to school or you drop them off directly, make sure to review the basic guidelines on how to safely cross the street. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 nearly one in every five children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in traffic crashes was a pedestrian. Remind your children to only cross the street in designated crosswalks and to look both ways before crossing. If there’s a crossing guard at an intersection, make sure to follow his or her directions.

Prevent accidents on the playground.

Every kid loves to be able to run around during recess, but playgrounds can pose lots of opportunities for accidents and injuries. To help protect your child, make sure to remove drawstrings and other cords from their clothing. These strings can easily get trapped in playground equipment and lead to strangulation. Children should always be supervised while on the playground. If you have concerns, talk with your school and your child’s teacher about the level of supervision.

Use proper equipment to prevent sports injuries.

If your children play sports during the school year, make sure they are outfitted with the proper equipment to prevent injuries, especially concussions. While it’s OK to buy gently used equipment in some instances, like lacrosse or hockey sticks, don’t skimp on a good quality helmet. A used helmet could already have the padding damaged and that will offer your children less protection. Make sure you can recognize the signs of a concussion (PDF) and learn how to prevent other common sports injuries like sprains or pulled muscles.

Talk to your kids about bullying.

No one feels safe at school if they are the victim of bullying or cyberbullying. Make sure you talk to your kids about bullying and teach them to report any cases of bullying they see at school, even if they aren’t the victim. Use the tips from to get the conversation started.

For more great back to school tips and other ways you can prepare your kids, visit

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Find important information about school lunches, vaccines, and more to help your family get ready.

It’s Back-To-School Time — for Adults

August is the time when parents across the country get their children ready for the new school year. It’s a good time to get the kids up to date with their immunizations, and to buy the supplies they need for school.

In the rush to get everything ready for their kids, parents might forget that they might benefit from going back to school too. The federal government offers affordable adult education classes and programs throughout the United States.

Most classes and programs are free, and are offered in locations like community centers, public schools and community colleges. Government-sponsored adult education classes include:

  • GED preparation. A GED diploma is equivalent to a high school diploma and is essential for getting a better job. Several adult education programs offer prep classes to help you get a GED diploma. These programs teach basic algebra, physics, civics, and history and are ideal for people who didn’t finish high school. You can find the nearest GED testing center by typing in your ZIP code at
  • Career and technical education. Adult education classes and programs can also help you get practical education and training through work certifications. You can take classes on plumbing, office administration, electronics, mechanics, carpentry, health and even computers. Some of these classes are developed with local employers to help students develop skills that local employers need.
  • English classes. These classes are designed for adults who want to learn how to speak, read or write in English. There are courses for beginners and advanced students, but also for native speakers who would like to improve their English skills. If you enroll in these classes you might have to take a test to determine your level of proficiency. These classes offer flexible schedules to accommodate people who work and have family obligations.
  • Citizenship classes. If you are a legal permanent resident and are trying to become a U.S. citizen, you might be interested in taking a citizenship prep class at your local adult school. These classes offer everything you need to know to take the history and civics tests required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You will also have the opportunity to practice the required citizenship interview.
  • Education orientation and help for disabled students. Adult education schools are staffed with counselors who can help students figure out which classes to take and which certifications may help them get a better job. They also have tools to help people with disabilities access classes and programs to take full advantage of the resources available.

Find out more information about adult education classes near you by visiting