10 tips for the new school year

Andrew Stark/UCW photo

Andrew Stark/UCW photo

School bells will ring on Monday, Aug. 25 across Union County, signifying the start of the 2014-15 traditional school year.

As students anticipate the first day of school and enjoy the last few days of summer break, it’s important for both students and parents to spend some time preparing for the start of the school year, according to Union County Public Schools staff.

Stallings Elementary School guidance counselor Carolyn Nichols recently spoke with Union County Weekly to offer some tips for parents and students of all ages as they embark on a new adventure on Monday. Families can find more information about UCPS news and events at the school district’s website, www.ucps.k12.nc.us.

1. Enjoy the excitement

Nichols said her No. 1 tip for both parents and students is to be excited about the coming school year. A new year offers many opportunities like making new friends, joining a new club and setting special goals, she said. 

“It’s a new year, new beginnings… Kids are excited, (and) parents should enjoy that excitement with them,” Nichols said.

2. Stock up on school supplies

 New backpacks, pencils, pens, paper and notebooks are a requirement for many students. Families should contact their school or teacher for an official supply list and call their school if they can’t afford any of the items on the list.

“I can’t imagine there’s a school in Union County that wouldn’t be able to provide students with school supplies if they need it,” Nichols said.

3. Resume a routine

Students should resume a normal daily routine as soon as possible. That includes setting times for meals, going to sleep and waking up. Students also should get plenty of sleep the night before school starts, Nichols said.

“Kids sometimes are so excited about the next day they don’t sleep the night before,” she said.

4. Recognize that Familiarity brings comfort

 Families should become familiar with their schools. Attending open houses, visiting the school and their teachers’ websites and simply driving by the school are all ways to become more comfortable before the first day of school, Nichols said.

“If they can come the open house or any openings schools are having, it just helps the kids, and it helps the families,” she said.

5. Address anxiety issues

The new school year also can be scary, and parents should talk about first-day-of-school anxiety with their kids. Nichols recommended reading books like “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn and the Franklin series’ “Franklin’s First Day of School” for younger children, and added parents should call their school’s counselor for further suggestions if their student is very anxious.

6. Know your bus schedule

 Bus schedules for UCPS were mailed out this week, Nichols said. Parents and students should study the bus route and call the school with any questions.

7. Take care of the miscellaneous Stuff

Families should turn in any required paperwork as soon as possible, make sure the students are up to date on their immunizations and communicate any concerns to their teachers. Parents also should make sure their kids keep an agenda and stay on top of their homework, Nichols said.

8. Practice healthy habits

 School attendance is important, Nichols said. “It makes things easier for the child because when they miss school, it stresses them out,” she said. But good attendance and health go hand-in-hand, so it’s important for students and their families to maintain healthy habits to avoid sickness, Nichols added. Her health tips for students include:

• Washing your hands as much as possible

• Keeping your hands away from your mouth

• Staying home if you have a high fever or are sick

9. Be on time

 Figure out the bell schedule ahead of time and make it a point to never arrive late, Nichols said.

10. Notice the teachers’ excitement

 Seeing how excited teachers and school faculty are about the new school year can generate excitement and ease, Nichols said.

“Teachers and all school staff are always so excited and looking forward to seeing the kids coming back in,” she said. “To me, it’s like a family reunion.”

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Josh Whitener

About Josh Whitener

Josh Whitener has been with Union County Weekly since he started freelancing for the newspaper in summer 2010. He joined the paper full time in December 2011 as a staff writer and has since been promoted to Features Editor, a position that allows him to focus on Union County school and education news, human interest stories, church and religion news, special events and more. Josh graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2009 with a degree in communication studies - mass media and a minor in journalism. In his spare time, he enjoys playing and writing music and spending time with his wife, April, and son, Caleb, and their two beagles, Annie and Dori. Have a story idea or question for Josh? Contact him at josh@unioncountyweekly.com.

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