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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Tips make back to school easier for children

For veteran parents, the back-to-school drill is already ingrained.

Newer parents sometimes struggle more.

Here are some tips to help ease parents back into the new school year, which officially begins Sept. 6, the first day of classes.

Spokane Public Schools District 81 officials prefer that parents of new students don’t wait until the first day of classes to bring their child to school. Registration for elementary school begins Tuesday; for middle school, Wednesday; and high school, Aug. 29.

Be prepared to provide proof of your child’s immunization records. Parents do have an option of explaining personal reasons as to why they chose not to have their child vaccinated. Questions should be directed to the district health office at 354-7298.

Once school begins, district health service coordinator Kathe Reed-McKay advises parents to try and give students any needed medication outside of school hours if possible. If a student needs to take any oral medications at school, a medication form must be signed by a doctor and parent.

“We’re just not able to administer medication without everything in place,” Reed-McKay said.

In Spokane Public Schools there are about 500 children with life-threatening conditions, such as severe allergies to bee stings, latex or foods, she said. Returning parents need to ensure that a “current care” plan is updated and filed with their child’s school. Plans must be on file for these children to attend school, Reed-McKay said.

“We do not want any child to miss their first day of school,” Reed-McKay said.

As the year progresses, there is an ongoing community issue with head lice, she said. The best advice she can offer is prevention. Parents should be checking their child’s head weekly by combing through and parting the hair to see the scalp.

“Nobody likes to deal with this situation,” Reed-McKay said. “It’s been in our community since the beginning of time.”

If it’s too embarrassing to talk about, parents can print out a coloring book on head lice and going back to school at

Bus tips

Laidlaw branch manager Verna Landy said parents with new bus riders should give their children some extra support during the first couple of weeks. Parents should be at the bus stop so their child knows exactly where to get off.

“It’s really difficult for the driver to keep track of 65 children that he’s not familiar with,” Landy said.

If a child doesn’t believe their stop looks familiar, and they choose not to get off, the driver won’t force them, Landy said.

At the last bus stop, drivers check their buses for any remaining students. Drivers will take students back to school and walk them into the office so that an employee can contact a parent or guardian.

“It takes special people to be school bus drivers,” Landy said. “I don’t think the general public is fully aware of that or of the responsibility they have to deal with … These people put a lot of effort into a part-time job.”

For students on foot, it’s a good idea to walk the route to school before classes, said Joe Madsen, Spokane Public Schools director of safety. That also gives a parent time to talk about “stranger danger” and traffic safety.

“We need parents to help us keep their children safe,” Madsen said. “There’s no substitute for parents and dinner conversation about safety issues prior to school starting.”

Parents getting up to speed

The Spokane Public Schools Web site also contains information on topics including what subjects children are taught.

Click on the Parent/Student resources link and then click on the “Curriculum Guides, Program Guides, & Approved Materials.” This gives a deep look into what every grade will be taught. Also included are reading lists, including all grade school books like “After the Dinosaurs” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

There are also curriculum guides for each grade level broken down by topic. For example, in social studies an introduction is followed by goals of studying and how to meet those goals. In third grade social studies, the guide states that students should gain knowledge and ask questions that have relevance to their lives and community.

Other tips

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these suggestions for making the return to school easier:

“Remind your child that other students are also uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers also know there are jitters and make extra efforts to ensure everyone feels comfortable.

“Point out if old friends will be there. Talking about some good memories from the past year is helpful.

“Many parents also walk their child to school on the first day or even pick them up after school.

“Finally, if their schedule allows, parents can try volunteering at their child’s school. Parents can call their child’s school or call the district volunteer coordinator, Anne Orsi, at 354-5900.

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