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Three ways families can better prepare for the school year

Identify the right resources 

One thing in high demand for teachers this year is support from communities. It’s important to ensure teachers have the resources they need to lead student learning for both online and in-person settings. Everything from basic supplies to materials that promote learning and overall well-being can help kids manage stress, but teachers often need help acquiring those supplies. That’s why Kleenex® brand is donating up to $1.2 million in 2020 to fund requests from teachers on the education nonprofit crowdfunding site DonorsChoose.

“When students have the resources they need to learn and stay well, achievement can thrive,” said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose. “This upcoming school year holds many unknowns for educators, and we’re grateful for this support from Kleenex® brand, which has helped equip over 2,500 teachers and 176,500 students with materials they need to continue learning.”

Prepare for a new routine 

A big part of going back to school is getting into a new routine as a family and being flexible knowing things will continue to change. Gilboa recommends introducing a similar school schedule weeks before school starts, so parents are able to help children adjust and make changes as needed.

“Having kids practice what is expected of them with these new guidelines will help them feel more prepared when it’s time for school to start,” says Gilboa. “Whether it’s packing their backpack or starting the morning with structured activities such as reading or coloring, having this routine will help kids transition better into the school year.”

Don’t underestimate a child’s stress 

Research shows that most elementary school children report some symptoms of nerves or anxiety around returning to school each year. In these unprecedented times, those numbers are expected to rise dramatically. According to Gilboa, the biggest signs of stress to look out for in kids include behavior, sleep and appetite changes, difficulty with normal communication, or not enjoying things they normally do.

“Kids will pick up on their parents’ stress leading up to the school year, so it’s important to remember to manage your stress and reactions appropriately,” said Gilboa. “To help understand your kids’ true feelings, ask questions to encourage them to share good and bad experiences. This way, when your child is going through something stressful, they have the practice and expectation that they can talk about it with their parents.”

Parents can start by encouraging kids to share a couple of good things that happened in the day, and also a challenge. Questions could include “what moment made you smile today” or “tell me about a moment you wish you could erase.”

The upcoming school year will feel overwhelming but taking extra time to understand and communicate with kids and their teachers will help everyone feel more in control and prepared for the school year. To join Kleenex® brand in funding the resources needed for students and teachers this year, please visit DonorsChoose.org/Kleenex.

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Six back-to-school tips for parents of kids with allergies

 (BPT) – For kids who live with allergies and asthma, back-to-school can spell trouble with symptoms.

Late summer/early fall is the height of ragweed season. When you add in exposure to environmental factors found in school classrooms, playing fields and eating areas, you have the perfect recipe to jump start your child’s otherwise-under-control allergy and asthma symptoms.

These six steps from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) can help get your child off on the right foot for the school year. Feeling as good as possible means being able to stay focused on learning.

1. Schedule an appointment with your child’s allergist 

Before the first bell rings, make an appointment with a board-certified allergist. Allergists have the best training and medical expertise to offer the most effective treatments for your child’s allergies and asthma. Your allergist can work with you to create an allergy action plan to help your child’s teacher understand your child’s triggers, as well as how to control allergy flares. According to ACAAI, children who see an allergist have fewer missed school days! Use the ACAAI Find an Allergist tool to locate an allergist in your area.

2. Be aware of potential problems in the school building

As anyone who lives with allergies can attest, a school building can be a minefield of allergens. New carpeting can release volatile organic compounds, open windows let in pollen, classroom pets can release dander and bathrooms can harbor mold. It can be helpful to take a tour of the school ahead of time and discuss your child’s triggers with their teacher or school administrators. They can work with you to minimize the impact on your child.

3. Make sure ragweed doesn’t cut your child’s game short

Even with allergies or asthma, your child should be able to enjoy the activities they love – on the playground, in the gym and on the playing field. The key is to follow your allergist’s advice. For seasonal allergens like ragweed, it’s especially important to think ahead to avoidance and treatment, so if your child has a reaction, your child’s coaches and teachers know what to do.

4. Know how the school responds to allergy emergencies 

Knowing how the school handles allergy and asthma emergencies can bring peace of mind. What happens if your child can’t find their rescue inhaler? Does the school keep extra supplies of asthma medications? Which teachers are trained to respond to a severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis from a food allergy or bee sting? Who calls 911 and when? Review your district’s policy and, if needed, set up a meeting with the school nurse. Who knows? You may be the one to call attention to a critical missing step!

5. Consider long-term treatments like allergy immunotherapy 

Many kids with moderate to severe allergies can benefit from allergy immunotherapy – regular treatments delivered through shots and under-the-tongue tablets. These treatments gradually “train” the body’s immune system to become less sensitive and reactive to the things that make your child wheeze and sneeze. Talk to your child’s allergist to learn more and find out if it’s a good option for your child.

6. Don’t have an allergist for your child? Find one! 

A board-certified allergist can set your child on the right track, for the long term, to handle their allergies or asthma in school and at home. To find one, visit the ACAAI allergist locator. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.

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The Test every kid needs before going back to school

Remember, vision and learning are directly connected, as approximately 80 percent of what a child learns is presented visually. For success in the classroom, the sports field and more, start the school year right with a comprehensive eye exam. PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Valerii Honcharuk / stock.Adobe.com

(StatePoint) Before schedules get too hectic, experts say that parents should prioritize a visit to the eye doctor this back-to-school season.

 “An annual comprehensive eye exam is essential for optimal wellness, as well as ensuring your child reaches his or her full academic potential,” says Dr. Jennifer Wademan, VSP network eye doctor.

The incidence of visual impairment in preschool children is expected to increase 26 percent over the next 45 years, affecting almost 220,000 children, according to a recent study by the USC Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute. What’s more, kids have more demand on their eyes and vision than ever before due to the increased use of digital devices.

To help ensure a smooth transition back-to-school, consider the following tips and insights:

Get a Comprehensive Eye Exam

While 76 percent of parents said sight is the most important sense, only 50 percent take their kids for an annual eye exam, according to a recent survey conducted by YouGov and VSP Vision Care, with many parents under the incorrect impression that the vision screening conducted by the school nurse or at the pediatrician’s office is sufficient. Although many schools offer abbreviated vision screenings throughout the year, they can miss up to 80 percent of vision problems, including serious conditions like amblyopia (lazy eye), which can lead to vision loss if not treated. An annual comprehensive eye exam is the best way to detect vision problems, as well as other conditions related to the eyes that can affect overall health and wellness.

 “How a child’s brain processes visual information is complex, and a screening alone isn’t a substitute for a comprehensive exam, nor is it the most reliable way to track a child’s eye health,” says Dr. Wademan. “A comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor however, evaluates multiple aspects of vision, including the close-up skills essential for reading, tracking and focusing.”

Don’t Wait for Complaints 

Among those parents who do not bring their children to the eye doctor annually, 72 percent of moms and 48 percent of dads said they would be motivated to do so if their child complains of discomfort or changes in vision. Don’t wait for that first complaint! Certain changes to eyesight can happen gradually, and children may not realize that their vision is impaired.

Dr. Wademan points out that catching problems early is important:

 “When a child’s visual system is not given a clear and focused image, and if his or her eyes are not working together, the child could fail to ever achieve normal visual acuity,” she says. “These patients end up struggling to see well in adulthood, even with contacts or glasses.”

To find an eye doctor near you, visit VSP.com.

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How to scratch head lice off your list of worries

Two lice viewed under an electron microscope. Note the claws used to grasp onto individual hairs. Photo Credit: CDC

(NAPS)—One of the most common human parasitic infestations around, head lice affect an estimated 6-12 million Americans annually, most of them children. 

If your kids are at risk, here’s something you should know: Catching lice early is vital to helping stop the spread of these itchy pests. 

What To Do

• Since it can take 4 to 6 weeks for symptoms such as itching to show up, it’s a good idea to make weekly lice checks a habit at home to stop an infestation before it gets out of control. 

Don’t share items that touch the head. Teach children to keep their hats, helmets, brushes, headbands, scarves and other items to themselves. 

• When possible, have children wear long hair pulled back.

Catch it early. If you notice your child scratching his head, do a thorough check.

Act quickly. If you are notified of an outbreak, immediately check your child’s hair, searching for nits close to the scalp or sores from scratching at the nape of the neck or behind the ears. Check all family members using a nit comb. Apply a 50/50 solution of conditioner and water to the hair to make combing easier. Work under bright light and watch for movement. Examine the comb after each stroke.

• Don’t worry and don’t blame the child. Even if your kid does bring home lice, it’s not the end of the world. There are affordable pesticide-free over-the-counter products that can help you treat the problem without having to spend a lot of time or money on going to a clinic.

Here’s How To Handle The Problem

Treat anyone who’s infested. There are more options than ever before for treating head lice, however not all products work the same. With lice growing increasingly resistant to traditional over-the-counter pesticides, look for a pesticide-free treatment that’s clinically proven effective against super lice and eggs. If a product doesn’t specifically say it “kills” lice and eggs, it won’t. Some products are designed only to make removal combing of lice easier. Vamousse Lice Treatment comes in a convenient mousse formula that kills lice and eggs before they hatch, while they are still in the hair.  In just one application it attacks the full life cycle of adult lice and eggs so there’s no waiting for the eggs to hatch and then treating again. This decreases the hassle and the risk of spreading lice throughout your family.

Once exposed to lice, it’s too late for a repellent. Stray lice may have already been contracted. Nits and scurrying lice are so small that they can easily be missed during a parent’s visual inspection of a child’s hair. If you don’t find lice but are still concerned or have just treated a child, you can switch the whole family to a daily lice defense shampoo such as Vamousse Lice Defense for two weeks. It’s gentle, pesticide-free and used just like regular shampoo, yet laboratory studies have shown it can kill lice with each use.

Learn More

For further facts and tips, visit www.vamousselice.com

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Tips for parents of children with disabilities

These things will help them to succeed in school

By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president, Respectability.org

 As someone with a disability myself, and who also knows what it means to parent a child with multiple disabilities, I’ve become an advocate for my children on so many fronts, including their education. After all, when it comes to disability and inclusion, despite good intentions, many schools don’t even know what they don’t know. Also, only 61% of students with disabilities get a high school degree — so it is up to people with disabilities, and their loved ones, to educate and advocate for disability inclusion and success. This is especially true when enabling children with disabilities to have full access to education. While today on average only 1-in-3 working age adults with a disability have a job, studies show that 70% of young people with disabilities can get jobs and careers. But we have to do our part. Here are some tips I’ve used in the past that may be helpful to you:

1. Know you are not alone. 

Fully 1-in-5 Americans has a disability. While parenting a child with differences feels lonely at times, seek out other families with similar experiences. Peers can offer good advice, and may become your new best friends. They reside in your local community and online.

2. Research which schools in your area have real experience and success working with children with disabilities. 

While all public schools are required to accommodate students with disabilities, some schools may have magnet programs specifically for your child’s educational needs. In other cases, you may want to resist when your school district wants to bus your child across town to a school for other kids with disabilities, when accommodations can be easily made at his or her neighborhood school.

Call your local disability groups to see what resources and leads they can offer. Ask other parents of children with disabilities about their experiences with different schools.

Go online to look at the school’s website. Does it say they welcome and serve people with disabilities?

3. Write an “all about how to succeed with my child” letter. 

Yes, you should also prepare a file with your child’s Individualize Education Plan (IEP), including suggestions for success from any speech, physical, occupational, mental health or other therapists that works with your child. But don’t expect all teachers to be knowledgeable enough to understand some of the technical material. Your letter should be easy to read.

Provide a toolkit for working with your child. Put things into simple language with bullets of information that the school needs to know to make your child’s experience safe and successful.

Remember, as a parent, you have unique insights about your child that can help your child’s teacher understand his/her strengths and needs. Your candor, experience and advice will be much appreciated. Depending on the age of your child, you may want your child to help write the memo.

4. Request a meeting with your child’s teacher and team. 

Yes, everyone is busy. However, if you miss out on having a real substantive conversation, you may create a situation that turns your child off to school and learning.

Additionally, it is not enough to meet with the school principal. You need to sit face-to-face with teacher who will be in the classroom with your child, as well as the school leaders who support that teacher. If appropriate, bring your child’s therapists. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to bring them to this meeting.

Before the meeting, you should send your memo about your child to all the meeting participants. Bring copies of it to the meeting as well, and have your “elevator pitch” about your child ready to go. You may want to practice it in front of someone who can offer constructive criticism. It is important to get your points across quickly so they can ask questions. Teachers will really appreciate your efforts, resources and transparency.

Once the teachers learn about your child, the school may want to put an extra aid in the classroom to support your child’s needs. Alternatively, they may want to match your child with a different teacher who is more experienced. If so, do your “elevator pitch” and Q&A with that teacher as well. The school may benefit from having your child’s occupational or physical therapist meet with them, or join the class for a day, to give the teacher some tips.

5. Ask the teacher and team about their preferred method of communication.

Mutual respect and trust are important to all relationships. This includes the relationship you want to cultivate with your child’s teacher. That’s why it’s important to find out which method of communication suits them the best. Many prefer emails.

6. Be fully transparent with your child’s team.

If your child has tantrums, be sure the staff understands what causes the tantrums, and how to prevent them. If your child needs notification before a transition, or has a tick or expression that they use to indicate he or she is anxious, the team needs to know, so they can best serve your child. This is not the time to worry about privacy – you need to focus on safety and success.

7. Be upbeat. Teachers want proactive parents.

A positive relationship with your child’s teacher will help your child feel good about school. Before you hit “send,” look over emails, making sure they’re respectful of the teacher’s time and also of their efforts to help your child. It’s great for you to ask questions and make suggestions as long as your message conveys your trust that the teacher is performing her job ethically, responsibly and to the best of their ability. You want to be their partner. Remember that a teacher is a person first. Send thank you notes, volunteer, let them know when your child really enjoyed a particular lesson, and try to be considerate of their schedule; teachers have families too.

8. Share your enthusiasm for learning with your child.

Talk with your child about they will be learning during the year, and why it is important to you. Let your child know that you have confidence in their ability to master the content, and that you believe it will be a positive part of their life. Reinforce the natural progression of the learning process that occurs over the school year. Learning skills take time and repetition. Encourage your child to be patient, attentive, and positive.

9. Slow down and take the time to do it right.

Transitions are often difficult for children with disabilities. There will be a few bumps in the road. Your child will have a successful year at school in spite of difficulties. As we move into the first few weeks of school, stay calm and positive. Remember to take care of yourself. Know your limitations, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make sure your child has enough sleep, plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, and get to school.

10. Familiarize yourself with the other professionals.

Make an effort to find out who it is in the school who can be a resource for you and your child. Learn their roles and how best to access their help if you need them. This can include the principal, cleaning and kitchen crew, front office personnel and others who may work with kids with disabilities on a daily basis.

11. Reinforce your child’s ability to cope.

Give your child a few strategies to manage a difficult situation on his or her own, but encourage your child to tell you or the teacher if problems persist. Maintain open lines of communication with the school.

12. Help your child make at least one real friend there.

Arrange play dates. Try to arrange get-togethers with some of your child’s classmates during the first weeks of school to help your child establish positive social relationships with peers. Go to holiday events with other children and help facilitate actual friendships for your child. Parents of other children both with and without disabilities who are friends with your child can become your new best friends as well.

13. Listen to Your Child’s Feelings.

When your child shows any anxiety about going back to school, the worst thing you can do is brush it off with a “don’t worry about it” response. Listen and be responsive to your own child and empower them to advocate for themselves as well. Show them your love. Sometimes you need to take a little step back in order to move forward.

14. Enjoy their childhood.

It goes way too fast!

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Facts and myths about germs at school

(c) Syda Productions/stock.Adobe.com

(StatePoint) Everybody seems to have an opinion about germs — what causes them, where they’re located, how to avoid them — especially when it comes to children.

Experts say that American children miss 22 million days of school annually due to colds, flu and other infections.

“Avoiding germs at schools isn’t as simple as just washing your hands in the bathroom or sneezing into your sleeve,” says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona. “Germs are on everything kids touch in the classroom, as well as around the hallways, cafeteria and playground.”

With this in mind, it is important to separate facts from myths about germs in schools.

• Fact: Desks Are Among the Most Germ-Prone Items. It’s true! Students spend most of the day at their desks — sneezes, coughs and all — and, in some schools, they often switch classrooms and share desks with others. At the end of the day, students bring home that cocktail of germs to their families.

• Myth: Any Hand Sanitizer Will Do. According to research from the University of Colorado at Boulder, people carry an average of 3,200 bacteria on their hands. While most hand sanitizers are 99.9 percent effective at killing germs, some only last for a few minutes or until the application dries on the skin. Therefore, parents should consider applying hand sanitizers for their children that last throughout the day, such as Zoono’s GermFree24, which is proven to last for 24 hours on skin and is available as both a foam and a spray.

• Fact: Germs Can Affect Kids Outside the Classroom. Germs in schools aren’t just isolated to classrooms. They are everywhere, including cafeteria trays, playground jungle gyms and sports equipment. In fact, the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found 63 percent of gym equipment is contaminated with rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. Reminding children to wash their hands before and after using these items (and wiping them down) will go a long way toward preventing sickness.

• Myth: Sticking Things in Your Mouth is Child’s Play. Sure, curiosity might drive preschoolers to stick items in their mouths that don’t belong. However, older students who nervously chew on pen caps, especially ones they borrow from classmates, or on their own fingernails during tough tests, are susceptible to picking up the germs that are traversing through school.

• Fact: Backpacks Carry More Than Just Books. Backpacks go everywhere — to classrooms, inside lockers, in the cafeteria, in locker rooms — and collect various germs throughout the day. Periodically clean backpacks inside and out. And make sure lunches and other food items, as well as gym clothes, are packed in separate bags to avoid cross-contamination of germs.

• Myth: Sharing is Always Caring. Just about every school supply — from pens and pencils to headphones to sport jerseys — can be a vehicle for harmful bacteria. Make sure children are armed with their own items, including mechanical pencils to avoid using the classroom’s pencil sharpener, and avoid sharing their supplies with classmates.

When it comes to germs, separating myths from facts can help you have a happier, healthier school year.

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Tips on choosing a lice treatment for back-to-school 


Parents today can defend their kids from picking up lice at school.

With So Many Lice Treatments Available, Parents Are Left Scratching Their Heads


(NAPS)—Lice cases spike during the back-to-school season, which means many parents will be shopping for lice treatment along with No. 2 pencils as kids return to the classroom. Parents have a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) options for treating lice—many more than their parents had—so selecting a product may feel overwhelming. Pesticide-free lice treatment Vamousse provides a look at the three most common types of lice treatment products found in the first aid aisle.

Pesticide-Based Lice Treatments

Traditionally, pesticide-based products have been the most common lice treatments available. These products contain the active ingredients permethrin or pyrethrum, which are pesticides introduced more than four decades ago as pediculicides-—OTC drugs to kill lice. With these products, the formula kills lice but does little to kill their eggs, making a second application necessary seven to 10 days later to kill newly hatched lice that were in the egg stage when the first treatment was performed.

A big concern today is pesticide resistance. Researchers studying head lice across the U.S. have documented that strains of “super lice” exist in much of the country. As a result of having relied on the same chemicals to treat lice over decades, resistance has grown, leading to less consistent reliability of these pesticide-containing products.

Pesticide-Free Lice Treatments

This category of products is aimed at addressing the pesticide-resistance challenge and providing a different approach to ending an infestation. Within the pesticide-free category, there are two main types of products: pediculicides and combing facilitators.

Pesticide-Free Pediculicides

This newer generation of treatments emphasizes safe, nontoxic ingredients with the ability to kill lice, including super lice, without using the pesticides to which lice have become resistant. Often, these products include a Drug Facts box indicating that the FDA recognizes the active ingredient as a pediculicide—an OTC drug for the treatment of lice.

Vamousse Lice Treatment is an example of a pesticide-free pediculicide. Vamousse is also proven to kill eggs, dehydrating them with the treatment. This means that both the adult lice and their laid eggs are killed with the application rather than needing to wait for eggs to hatch. Parents also get the benefit of ingredients that are nontoxic and safe to reapply as needed, so there is no waiting period to fully end an infestation or quickly treat a reinfestation.

Combing Facilitators

Combing is the original method of ending a lice infestation (evidence dates back even to the time of Cleopatra!). Some products in the lice treatment section serve to condition the hair for easier combing, supporting the manual removal of lice. These products can be recognized by language about “loosening the nit glue” or “eliminating lice and eggs.” For many parents, combing alone is a time-intensive, highly involved activity that may need to be repeated frequently to get complete removal, so they should be aware that these combing aids do not kill lice.

What Parents Should Know

The best way to identify a head lice infestation early is by doing regular head checks. If you find lice, check the rest of the family and alert playmates. With the range of treatments on the market, be sure to follow the directions carefully for the product you select as procedures vary based on the type of product.

About Vamousse Lice Treatment

At Vamousse, they know parents want to eliminate head lice quickly. That’s why they’re proud to offer fast, effective products for parents to control lice and super lice with ingredients they can feel good about. Vamousse Lice Treatment kills both lice and eggs with the first application so kids and parents can get back to focusing on life—not the itchy effects of head lice.

Learn more about proactive lice management this back-to-school season and how Vamousse works at http://vamousselice.com/backtoschool.

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Flashing Lights on Top, You Must Stop:


Safety First as School Buses Hit the Road

Schools start August 21, 22, 23, 28 and September 5

 – We’ve all been in the car behind the school bus and in just a few days, many of us will be in that position again.  Knowing when to stop and when to go can mean the difference between a safe ride to school for students and a potentially deadly situation.  According to Darryl Hofstra, Forest Hills School District transportation director, some 16,000 school buses in Michigan transport 700,000 students daily.  That’s more than 200 million individual student rider trips, traveling 175 million miles, per school year.

Knowing when to stop and when to go when approaching a school bus is more than good safety practice, it’s the law.  Michigan legislation defines a “school bus zone” as the area lying within 20 feet of a school bus that has stopped with its red flashing lights on.  That’s 20 feet in every direction – front, back, both sides and diagonally from each fender corner.  It’s easy to remember what school bus lights mean if you think of them as traffic signals:  When you see red flashing lights, STOP; when you see yellow flashing lights, proceed slowly with CAUTION.

“Whenever you see a school bus, use extreme caution,” said Fred Doelker, safety and training director for Dean Transportation.  “Think of it as though you were a parent or grandparent and those were your kids in the bus.”  The fines for causing injury or death in a school bus zone are the same penalties for work zones and emergency scene violations.  Doelker advises motorists to take bus safety seriously and personally.

“The greatest risk to students is that area around the bus,” he continued. “When we talk with students, we call it the danger zone. If the bus is stopped, you can count on kids loading or unloading there. That’s why our advice to all motorists is to maintain a safe distance. Children may be coming from any direction, so maintaining that zone helps protect them.”

Burr Smith, 25-year trainer for bus drivers in Kent ISD, said student safety is his biggest concern and the key concept he teaches. “Everyone who shares the road needs to respect school bus zones and follow the law. It’s up to all of us to watch out for kids.”

The diagram below demonstrates the area within 20 feet of a school bus that is known as the School Bus Safety Zone.


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Study tips for busy college students

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) cristovao31 – Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) With seemingly endless reading, lengthy term papers and make-or-break exams, the academic life of a college student can be nothing short of demanding. What’s more, many students hold down part-time jobs and participate in extracurriculars during the semester.

While there are only so many hours in a day, students can make more of the time they do have by studying smarter, not harder. Here are a few tips to keep your head above water.

• Take smarter notes. Gone are the days of taking furious notes in class by hand. However, merely typing up class notes is also an antiquated notion for today’s tech-savvy students. There are many note-taking apps on the market that can help you organize, sort and share multimedia notes. The good news is that some of these are free. While each app has its own set of features, all of this tech can make the lecture hall a friendlier place and make study time more convenient.

• Find your sweet spot. Whether it’s a study carrel in the library, the student lounge of your dormitory or a shady spot in the quad, finding locations that inspire you to buckle down is crucial. Knowing your own study habits and needs can help you situate yourself wisely.

• Leverage campus assistance. Most colleges offer a wealth of student resources that can help you make the grade, from tutors to writing centers that offer helpful feedback on papers. At the very least, students should visit advisors and professors during their office hours, as well as be sure to visit the reference librarian’s desk when lost or overwhelmed in the stacks.

• Use new resources. New resources are helping students succeed in their courses. For example, every student who takes out a Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan or Graduate Student Loan gets free, exclusive access to Study Starter, an online tutoring and studying portal from the experts at Chegg, a leading provider of textbooks and student services. Available 24/7, it can quickly provide help to students when they need it most, whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m.

Students can select between 120 minutes of free online access to tutors or four months of free online access to step-by-step solutions to problems and study questions and answers. There is also a combination option as well. The results are proven — 88 percent of students who use Chegg Tutors say it helps them feel less stressed about schoolwork and 94 percent of Chegg Study users say it helped them get homework done with less stress.

“Making college affordable so students can enroll is only the first step. Up-front, in-school benefits can help them succeed in classes and graduate on time,” says Martha Holler, senior vice president at Sallie Mae.

For more information, visit SallieMae.com/StudyStarter.

If academic performance weights heavily on your mind, use all the available resources you have at your disposal, from on-campus advisors to online tutors and study aids, and add them to your own resolve to succeed.

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Tidy back-to-school transitioning

(Family Features) With shopping that needs to be done and supplies that need to be gathered for busy days ahead, preparing for the back-to-school season can descend into near chaos for many parents. When long school days leave little time for organization and decluttering, any home can quickly become a mess.

According to a survey conducted by ClosetMaid, 92 percent of parents describe their kids as messy. Among those same parents, 80 percent give their kids chores and about half of them end up doing the work themselves to ensure it’s done properly. Two out of three of the parents surveyed said their children’s messiness often leaves them in bad moods. Considering one of the hardest things about back-to-school season is creating an organized routine, the time to start is now.

When every room in the home can use some reorganization, decluttering in preparation for busy school days can be overwhelming. A smart place to start is in the room you and your kids waste the most time looking for things. These other useful tips can help you take it from there:

• Tackle your child’s closet and take inventory of what’s in it. Before you buy anything new, go through and get rid of torn clothes and items that no longer fit. It can help you see what is needed and ultimately make it easier for them to get dressed in the morning.

• Get your command center in tip top shape. Set up a system for storing important paperwork and create a centralized family calendar to help coordinate everyone’s schedules.

• Create a drop zone. Contain clutter before it spreads too far around the house with ClosetMaid’s KidSpace, a line of juvenile storage furniture featuring a storage locker that is perfect for backpacks, coats, sports equipment and supplies. Since it’s kid-sized, children can be responsible for making sure their belongings are put neatly away.

• Create a comfy homework station. Designate a special space, perhaps under a lofted bed, that can keep kids organized, productive and focused on work while helping inspire creativity.

• Download productivity apps on your phone. Help make your life easier as you get into the swing of the school year with apps that assist in organization and time management to help reduce day-to-day family stresses associated with hectic school days.

One thing is certain every school year: having an organized home and systems in place can keep parents happier and the household running smoothly. Find more home organization ideas and tips at ClosetMaid.com.

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The ABCs of back-to-school budgeting 


(BPT) – It’s natural to pack all you can into those few precious summer months, but inevitably they’re gone before you know it. As summer vacations, sleepovers and outdoor grilling come to a close, it’s time to start thinking about going back to school.

You may be working to pay off summer vacation bills when you realize you need to budget and pay for your child’s school supplies, clothing and other related school expenses.

In a recent survey conducted by Coinstar, about half of U.S. parents with kids between ages five and 18 believe school expenses are increasing. Of those surveyed, 57 percent will create a back-to-school budget.

To ease rising school costs, here are five budgeting tips that will help you get more for your dollar:

Create a budget. One of the best ways to spend wisely is to create a budget. If you don’t already have one, open a new spreadsheet on your computer or get out a pen and paper. Consider all the potential back-to-school expenses and not just the obvious ones, such as school supplies and clothing. For example, you’ll want to factor in extracurricular or after-school activities, tutoring, special school trips and even lunch costs.

Collaborate with other parents. Consider joining parent groups, either through your school or community. These groups can offer a great support network to share ideas and information. They also serve as a fantastic resource for meeting parents who have items such as sports equipment their kids have outgrown or even musical instruments their children no longer play. This can lead to some serious money-saving deals.

Tap your coin jar. With rising school costs, the old saying that every penny counts really is true. You can literally put this into practice by collecting all the loose change around your house or tucked away in your coin jar and bringing it to a Coinstar kiosk. At the kiosk, you can turn your coins into cash by paying a small fee or put your change toward a no-fee eGift card to use at retailers.

Make a shopping list. Most schools provide a back-to-school list to help you plan and shop for your child. Use this as a starting point to make your own list and then stick to it! Retailers are set up to encourage impulse buys, but checking to see if something is or is not on your list is one of the most effective ways to avoid purchasing non-essential items and blowing your budget.

Embrace the three Rs. Your kids will probably learn about the three Rs in school: reduce, reuse, recycle. This is a great principle to keep in mind when getting them ready for school, especially for back-to-school clothes. Choosing quality basics such as a jacket, skirt, sweater or jeans that can be combined with other clothing in your child’s closet will reduce the need for quantity purchases. In addition, consignment stores and online retailers are very popular and offer gently used items that check the “reuse” box. And finally, don’t forget to take advantage of hand-me-downs, whether from older siblings or friends.

Going back to school should be an exciting time for you and your kids. With these five budgeting tips, you can help cut the financial stress out of the process and kick the school year off to a great start.

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Tween and teen fashion trends make back-to-school fun and affordable

BACK-Teen-and-tween-trends(ARA) – This year’s back-to-school clothing trends are all about expressing individual personality. Just as music allows the listener to express themselves, fashion is a way for tweens and teens to let their true personality shine through.

Actress and singer Selena Gomez has teamed up with Sears to share today’s hottest back-to-school teen trends. Here’s what the coolest kids in school will be wearing this year:

Trend 1 – Be inspired by music

“For me, music and fashion are two ways I really get to express myself,” says Gomez. Like many tweens and teens, the music she likes has become a huge influence on her taste in fashion. From rock to rap styles, this year will be the year of music-inspired clothing.

For example, skate-style outfits will feature bold colors and geometric patterns. Rocker styles are edgy and use dark or muted colors. Hip-hop styles have lots of flare and feature accessories such as cool hats and belts. Pop-styles tend to be trendy and mix and match lots of dressy elements with casual pieces.

Trend 2 – Accessorize!

Accessories are an easy and affordable way to transform any outfit and make it more unique and your own. For girls, this could include necklaces, bracelets, scarves and fun colored socks. For boys, watches, sunglasses and shoes top the list.

“Unique accessories are also great because they can add so much to an outfit and dress it up or create a totally different style,” says Gomez.

Trend 3 Mix and match for success

Get the most out of your back-to-school wardrobe. Consider new combinations, interesting patterns and mixing textures to find a style that is uniquely you.

Gomez suggests, “Try to mix up your wardrobe with a combination of trendy items as well those that are classic. For instance, everyone needs a great pair of skinny jeans that you can wear with anything, but look for unique pieces such as a cool jacket, vest or scarf that are perfect for back-to-school this year and really dress up your look.”

Trend 4 – Make your style your own

The golden rule of tween and teen fashion this year is to make your style all about you. “It’s so important for everyone, especially tweens and teens, to have their own sense of style. Even if that style is constantly changing, it’s an outlet for us to tell the world who we are and what we like,” says Gomez.

She suggests trying new things and creating a different look each day. The key is to find a style that gives you the confidence to walk in a room and feel really good about yourself. “What’s great is that Sears has all the top fashions to choose from and since it’s so affordable, you can always get the hottest new items and try a variety of looks,” says Gomez.

Do you have a fashion sense that stands out? Is music part of your unique personality? Visit www.Arrivelounge.com to view all the hot new fashion trends and check out the Sears Air Band Casting Call. You’ll also have a chance to help style the band, pick a name, design a logo and more. The winner will get great prizes like a Sears back-to-school wardrobe.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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