web analytics

Tag Archive | "Back to School"

Tips to Save on Back to School Necessities

(c) Monkey Business - Fotolia.com

(c) Monkey Business – Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) After a relaxing summer, back-to-school worries can be stressful and expensive, from purchasing new school supplies to planning lunches.

The discount experts at Dollar General are sharing tips to help you save time and money when planning for the new school year.

Stock Up On School Supplies

There are plenty of ways to dwindle down your spending as you get your child ready for the first day of school. The best place to start is with the school supply list provided by the teacher.

Go through all of the supplies from last year and determine what is usable and what needs to be replaced. Access your favorite coupons sites, like Dollar General Digital Coupons, for additional back-to-school savings.

Save on Snack Time

Simplify lunch preparation by stocking up on essential food items that are easy to grab on-the-go. One way to limit busy mornings before school is to set aside one afternoon each week to cook food in bulk that can be used during the week. That way, you don’t have to worry about cooking from scratch each day and can provide your children with balanced meal options.

Take Inventory and Reuse

Buying new clothes may be one of the most expensive parts to back-to-school shopping. Just because it’s a new school year doesn’t mean your child needs an entirely new wardrobe. For the clothes that do need replacing, considering shopping out-of-season to take advantage of clearance sales.

Make back-to-school shopping easy. Planning ahead can help you save on items to ensure this is the best school year yet. Your wallet will surely thank you.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Tips to Save on Back to School Necessities

Back-to-School with grief  

Going back to school can be especially challenging for a child who has recently lost a loved one. Hospice of Michigan encourages parents and educators to understand the signs of childhood grief and then take steps to allow children the chance to grieve in a healthy, productive way.

Going back to school can be especially challenging for a child who has recently lost a loved one. Hospice of Michigan encourages parents and educators to understand the signs of childhood grief and then take steps to allow children the chance to grieve in a healthy, productive way.

While most kids will carry backpacks with books and school supplies when they return to the classroom, others will carry a much heavier and often invisible burden: the grief of losing a loved one.

“Going back to school can be especially challenging for a child coping with grief,” said Karen Monts, director of grief support services at Hospice of Michigan. “If a child has recently lost a parent, it can be difficult to hear other children talking about their families. And while father-daughter dances and grandparents day are special and fun-filled events, they can be painful reminders of loss to a grieving child.”

According to the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, approximately one in 20 U.S. children will lose a parent by the time they reach the age of 16. The vast majority of children experience a significant loss of a friend or relative by the time they complete high school. Monts encourages parents of a grieving child to reach out to the child’s school and alert staff to a recent death in the family. She also urges educators to equip themselves to help students suffering from grief. Books, websites and blogs about children and grief can all be great resources; www.kidsgrief.org is a good place to start.

“Grief isn’t something children can leave at home; it will follow them to school and they may turn to their teacher for help,” Monts said. “Teachers should have a private discussion with the student when he or she returns to school. Just having the conversation can validate and normalize the grieving child’s feelings. The teacher and guardian should also ask if it’s OK to let the class know about the death the student is coping with. The teacher can explain that while discussing the recent death with the class might be uncomfortable, it will make things easier in the long run.”

Monts warns that it can be difficult to recognize a child struggling with grief because it’s often a feeling young children in particular can’t verbalize. Instead, feelings of grief in children typically come out in behaviors and actions. Some signs that a child might be having a hard time coping include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Increasingly anxious about being left alone
  • Regression to a previous stage of development
  • Problems sleeping or change in appetite
  • Falling grades or refusal to go to school
  • Frequent tearful outbursts
  • Constantly imitating or repeatedly stating that he or she wants to join the deceased

If educators recognize these symptoms in students, they should alert a parent or guardian. There are also things a teacher can do to help a student suffering from grief, including:

  • Comfort the child by being patient, spending extra time and letting the student know he or she is not alone.
  • Acknowledge the child’s loss and grief.
  • Listen, which can validate the child’s feelings, and make sure the child isn’t taking responsibility for the death.
  • Explain that strong feelings of sadness, fear, anger, etc. are normal and encourage the child to express these feelings.

If symptoms become severe, the school, parent or guardian might consider involving a social worker or counselor.

While school can present additional challenges for a grieving child, Monts explains that it can also be an escape. “When a family experiences a significant loss, life at home can become very sad and school can be a great diversion,” Monts said. “This is especially true if the classroom is a healthy place and the teacher has created a caring atmosphere that allows the child to share their feelings in a non-judgmental environment.”

Grief is a personal and individual experience that takes place over time. While it may take some children years to work through their grief, Monts explains that by working together, parents and educators can provide children with a better opportunity to grieve in a healthy, productive way.

Hospice of Michigan partners with other organizations and offers a variety of grief support and educational services, including individual visits, support groups and educational programs. Our services are available to all families involved with Hospice of Michigan as well as the community at large. For more information on any of the services we offer, visit www.hom.org.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Back-to-School with grief  

Back to school food safety tips 


Back to school, back to the books, back shuttling students to and from extracurricular activities. The new school year likely means back to packing lunches and afterschool snacks for students, scouts, athletes, dancers, and all the other children who carry these items to and from home. One “back” you do not want to reacquaint children with, however, is foodborne bacteria.

Bacteria that cause foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In this temperature range, these microorganisms can multiply to dangerous levels in just two hours, increasing the risk of foodborne illness. To make sure lunches and snacks are safe for those for whom you pack, you should follow the USDA’s four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.

Packing Tips

If the lunch/snack contains perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt, make sure to pack it with at least two cold sources. Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly, so perishable food transported without an ice source will not stay safe long.

Frozen juice boxes or water can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze these items overnight and use with at least one other freezer pack. By lunchtime, the liquid should be thawed and ready to drink.

Pack lunches containing perishable food in an insulated lunchbox or soft-sided lunch bag. Perishable food can be unsafe to eat by lunchtime if packed in a paper bag.

If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Tell children to keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food hot at 140 °F or above.

If packing a child’s lunch the night before, parents should leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cold longer because everything will be refrigerator temperature when it is placed in the lunchbox.

If you’re responsible for packing snacks for the team, troop, or group, keep perishable foods in a cooler with ice or cold packs until snack time. Pack snacks in individual bags or containers, rather than having children share food from one serving dish.

Storage Tips

If possible, a child’s lunch should be stored in a refrigerator or cooler with ice upon arrival. Leave the lid of the lunchbox or bag open in the fridge so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.

Eating and Disposal Tips

Pack disposable wipes for washing hands before and after eating.

After lunch, discard all leftover food, used food packaging, and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.

Consumers can learn more about key food safety practices at Foodsafety.gov, by “following” @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter, and by “liking” Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov. Consumers with questions about food safety, can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.

If you have questions about storage times of food or beverages, download USDA’s new FoodKeeper application for Android and iOS devices.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Back to school food safety tips 

Keep children’s vaccines current


National Immunization Awareness month

With school right around the corner, Michigan parents are encouraged to get a head start on back-to-school planning by talking with a pediatrician today about recommended vaccines. Before beginning school in the fall, children entering a licensed childcare facility, kindergarten, 7th grade, or moving to a new school district, need to be up to date on their immunizations or obtain a waiver from their local health department.

“Now is the perfect time to talk with your family physician about the vaccinations your children need before the school year,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). “Immunizations are safe and effective, and by keeping current on the recommended vaccination schedule, parents can protect their children and our communities against vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Every year there are cases of vaccine-preventable diseases in Michigan. Nationally, there has been a recent increase in cases of measles, and the only way to reverse the trend is to build and maintain high vaccination rates in our communities. Currently, Michigan’s statewide waiver rate for children and adolescents is 5 percent, but rates vary by county. To address this, MDHHS is partnering with local health departments to educate parents on the benefits of vaccines and the risks associated with not vaccinating risks to both to the individual and the community.

As part of these efforts, beginning January 2015, a new administrative rule went into effect requiring parents to talk with a health educator at their local health department before opting their children out of vaccinations. The new rule ensures parents and guardians seeking a non-medical waiver have the opportunity to discuss their concerns and questions regarding immunizations prior to the waiver being signed.

Parents are encouraged to make an appointment with their family physician or local health department as early as possible. Further, cost should not be a barrier to vaccinations. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program helps provide vaccines to children whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them. Parents are encouraged to contact their local health department for additional information. Parents who choose not to vaccinate must make an appointment with their local health department to receive a non-medical waiver. It is no longer available at schools or childcare.

For more information about vaccinations including immunization schedules, local health department locations, and resources regarding low-cost vaccination options for the uninsured or underinsured, visit www.michigan.gov/immunize.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Keep children’s vaccines current

CTA Calendar



September 18 Cross Country Fremont Invite


September 19 Picture Day – all grades


September 19 Grades 6-8 Back to School Kickoff for Parents and Students of Middle School – 6-9 pm


September 26 Student Early Release – (2 hours early)

K-5 Dismissal at 12:55 pm

6-12 Dismissal at 1:06 pm


September 27 Cross Country Allendale Invite – 8:30 am


October 10 Student Early Release – (2 hours early)

K-5 Dismissal at 12:55 pm

6-12 Dismissal at 1:06 pm


October 10 Cross Country – Montabella HS – 4 pm


October 18 Cross Country – Michigan Class “D” State Championship

October 18 1st Annual Harvest Festival – 3-6 pm (PA sponsored)

October 18 Harvest Festival Dance – 6-9 pm


October 21-23 Student Led Parent Teacher Conferences  (required of all students and parents)

October 23 Wall of Honor Recognition – 2 pm – CTA Auditorium


October 24 Student Early Release – (2 hours early)

K-5 Dismissal at 12:55 pm

6-12 Dismissal at 1:06 pm


October 27 Parent/Superintendent Town Hall Meeting – 6:30 pm


October 30 Cross Country Banquet and Awards – 6 pm

Posted in CTAComments Off on CTA Calendar

Fast Family Dinners

Sausage and Mushroom Calzone

(Family Features) Don’t let the back-to-school frenzy put a damper on dinner plans. Soccer, dance, football and piano lessons don’t have to keep the family from sitting down for a meal together.

With a little planning – and everyone pitching in – you can create memorable family time around the table, even on the busiest of weeknights. Try some of these quick dinner tips and easy recipes for a delicious family dinner – fast.

Simple is better. During the week, stick to simple family favorites and save multi-step meals and new recipes for the weekends when you have a little more time.

Do double duty. When you brown ground beef or sausage for one meal, go ahead and brown extra to use in another dish later in the week. Rice, cheese and chopped onion can all be put in the freezer and saved for tacos, spaghetti or a skillet dish when you’re pressed for time.

Have a back-up plan. Even the best-laid plans can go awry, so make sure you’ve got something you can put together in a flash. It could be a meal you’ve prepped and frozen that just needs warming up, or some pasta, jarred sauce and whatever vegetables you have on hand that can be tossed together for a quick Italian feast.

Use convenience foods. Save some time and hassle with frozen cut vegetables or bagged salads. Look in the freezer and refrigerator sections of your grocery store to find farm-fresh Bob Evans proteins and sides that help you get a wholesome meal on the table with plenty of time to spare.

For more fast family recipes and money-saving coupons, visit www.bobevans.com.

Sausage and Mushroom Calzone

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes 4 servings
1     pound Bob Evans Italian Roll Sausage
1     pound loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
1/2  cup pizza sauce
1     jar sliced mushrooms, drained (4 ounces)
1/2  cup grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In large skillet, crumble and cook sausage until browned. Set aside.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12- to 14-inch rectangle. Cut into 4 pieces.

Top half of each rectangle with sauce, sausage, mushrooms and cheese. Fold dough over to enclose. Crimp around edges with a fork. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Mexican Sausage Pizza

Mexican Sausage Pizza

Prep time:  20 minutes
Cook time:  10 minutes
Makes 4 servings
1     pound Bob Evans Original Roll Sausage (can use Hot)
3     cups baking mix
2     cups grated cheddar cheese
1     can (15 ounces) refried beans
1/2     cup chopped onion
1     cup diced tomato
1/2     cup minced cilantro
2     cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
Sour cream (optional)
Salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In medium skillet over medium heat crumble and cook sausage until brown. Cool.

In large bowl, combine baking mix, cheddar cheese and cooked sausage. Stir in 5 or 6 tablespoons water to form a dough. Pat out into a thin layer on a large baking sheet or pizza pan.  Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown.

Spread crust with refried beans. Top with onions, tomato, cilantro and cheese. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Fast Family Dinners

Save big on back-to-school sales

(ARA) – The back-to-school season can become a very expensive time of year – especially if you have a child that grew several inches over the summer months.

Add to new clothes all the school supplies and sporting equipment she’ll need if she decides to try out for a school team and you’ve got yourself a full list.

But there are ways to meet your budget, and make sure you get everything on your kids’ back to school lists. Here are some tips to cut costs and keep money in your pocket:

* Only purchase what you need. Look over last year’s equipment and have your child reuse pencils, pens, rulers or glue for the classroom. Sure, folders and notebooks take a beating so you probably will have to purchase some new school supplies. The same holds true for clothing. Find just a couple of mix and match outfits that will stand up to frequent wear and multiple washings to help reduce what you spend on clothing.

* Shop the sales. Many states offer clothing tax-free holidays during the back to school season, providing a nice discount. And most department stores also hold promotions and discounts on school supplies and clothing, so keep an eye out for store brochures that will allow you to comparison shop for the lowest prices.

* Stay home and save big online. Instead of driving all around town trying to find the best deals, stay home and shop your favorite stores through website like Ebates.com. For example, if you shop at jcpenney.com for school supplies, you not only can take advantage of discount codes and coupons through the Ebates site, but also receive up to 6 percent cash back check in the mail.

* Buy in bulk. Items are cheaper if you buy in bulk, so make a list of all the supplies your children will need for the entire school year and purchase them now, during the back-to-school sales. If you don’t need such a large supply, ask a friend or relative to join you in the expense so all of your children can benefit from bulk shopping.

The back-to-school season is so exciting and you can easily get caught up in the flurry of activities while trying to get your children organized. But make sure you’re an economical mom and stick to your budget so you can save money for some other fun activity.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Save big on back-to-school sales

S.M.A.R.T. back-to-school shopping

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features) School supply lists seem to get longer each year, and when you have more than one child to shop for, it can really add up. So it’s no surprise that just about everyone is looking for ways to shop smarter.
In the most recent Back-to-School Shopping Forecast survey from PriceGrabber, 95 percent of shoppers will be using money-saving techniques to get school supplies this year. The survey also found that:
•    69 percent will shop online or use comparison shopping websites.
•    52 percent plan to spend as much as they did last year, while 35 percent say they’ll spend less.
•    55 percent will spread the cost of purchases over a longer period of time.
When you’re ready to stock up on backpacks, notebooks and an endless supply of pens, use these tips to help you be a smart back-to-school shopper:
S – Streamline your shopping.
•    Instead of driving all over town to get what you need, get as much as you can at one-stop-shops. Picking up school supplies and classroom supplies, such as tissues, disinfectant wipes, etc., saves you time and hassle. And it keeps you out of frustrating traffic.
•    Check the store’s website before you go. Make sure it will have the supplies you need so you don’t waste time looking for something that’s not there. If what you need isn’t in-store, consider ordering online.
M – Make a list.
•    Work with your child to craft your shopping list before hitting the stores.
•    Many retailers work with local PTAs and school districts to secure back-to-school shopping lists, making it easy to find exactly what your child needs.
•    Take an extra pen with you and have your child check off supplies as you get them.
A – Ads and alerts.
•    To help you save money, pay attention to the weekly ad inserts in your local newspaper. Combining sale prices with coupons saves you even more. Keep an eye out for super savings, such as Office Depot’s Penny Savers, when you can find many core supplies on sale for just a penny.
•    You can also sign up for special deal alerts through retailers’ websites and Facebook pages, giving you the scoop on extra savings.
•    If you want to avoid overfilling your email inbox, set up a separate email account just for retail alerts.
R – Rewards and rebates.
•    Many retailers have rewards programs that let you in on extra savings.
•    Some retailers also have programs that help you earn school supplies for your school, where a percentage of purchases goes to a designated school to use towards supplies.
•    To take advantage of rebates, check manufacturer websites as well as retailer websites for the latest ways to get money back.
T – Technology tips.
•    Keep your computers up to date with the latest virus and malware protection.
•    If your child will be doing online research for homework, you can put some parental controls in place to protect your child. Check out Google SafeSearch, AOL Parent Controls or ATT Smart Controls, or with your current Internet provider.
•    You can see user and professional reviews of parental control software at www.consumersearch.com.
Taking a little time to do your homework now will help you save time and money on school supplies when you’re ready to start shopping. To get the latest in back-to-school savings, visit www.officedepot.com.

Posted in FeaturedComments Off on S.M.A.R.T. back-to-school shopping

It’s time for back-to-school eye exams

Annual eye exams may help improve school performance. (c) Carlos Caetano - Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) Did you know that 80 percent of what we learn is acquired visually? From reading to visual mnemonics (think stop signs and multiplication tables), vision plays a critical role in your child’s academic success.

That’s why it’s important to put a visit to the eye doctor on your back-to-school to-do list.

Surprisingly, approximately 76 percent of children under the age of 5 have never had a comprehensive eye exam, according to a recent nationwide survey of nearly 4,000 Americans by VSP Vision Care, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company in the Unites States.

And since vision problems often manifest as behavioral problems or poor academic achievement, they’re also often misdiagnosed. For example, a child who fidgets in his seat and does poor work because he can’t read the board work may be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. While a good doctor would rule out vision problems before making a diagnosis, the child may not say anything because he is unaware there is a problem.

Children’s eyes also change from year to year, as they grow. Between shopping for school clothes, updating immunizations and stocking up on supplies, parents can forget the all-important annual eye exam that children need. Moreover, parents may assume that the screenings provided by pediatricians and school nurses are enough, but they’re not.

“General vision screenings are limited and overlook many potential vision problems,” said Dr. Stephanie Kirschbaum, a VSP provider based in Grass Valley, Calif. “Children need to be examined annually by an optometrist for signs of astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness. Their eye doctor will also examine the structure of the eye for tell-tale signs of serious diseases affecting more American kids each year, including diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.”

Children should have their first eye assessment at 6 months of age, a comprehensive eye exam starting at age 3 before entering school and then an annual exam throughout their lives.

See your eye doctor if your child:

• Loses his or her place while reading
• Avoids close work
• Tends to rub his or her eyes
• Has headaches
• Turns or tilts his or her head
• Squints while reading or watching television
• Has behavioral problems
• Holds reading material closer than normal

Regular eye care is essential to classroom success. By correcting any vision problems now, you can make the classroom a positive and productive experience for your child.

Posted in NewsComments Off on It’s time for back-to-school eye exams

Packing healthy school lunches for kids

BACK-Healthy-Lunches(StatePoint)  Packing nutritious school lunches that kids will eat can be tricky. You want to make sure that all those healthy foods you carefully selected are not traded away for junk food or tossed into the trash.

With childhood obesity a growing problem, many parents are determined to find healthful but tempting school lunches for their kids.

“Just because a bagged lunch is nutritious doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fun. Include a variety of foods your kids enjoy and get creative by packing colorful vegetables and fiber-rich fruits. And since kids love snacks, don’t fight it, pick healthy snacks and avoid junky chips and empty calories,” says Josh Schroeter, co-founder of Sahale Snacks, a producer of healthy, all-natural snack foods.

  • Make Favorites Even Better: Choose whole grain bread over white bread when making your child’s favorite sandwich. Substitute a whole wheat tortilla or pita pocket and kids won’t notice a difference. Choose lean lunch meats such as turkey or chicken and low fat cheeses. Use mustard instead of mayonnaise. Home-made bean or yogurt dip with vegetable sticks can be a tasty source of protein and fiber.
  • Go Nuts with Nutrient-Rich Snacks: Nuts and seeds make terrific protein- and fiber- rich snacks in lunchboxes. They contain heart-healthy fats and satisfy the craving for crunchy foods. Choose nut mixes with low sodium and no trans-fat or heavily processed sweeteners — and go beyond boring trail mixes. Liven things up with all-natural, kid-friendly glazed nut blends, such as Sahale Snack’s “Almond PB&J” blend of nuts, strawberries, raspberries and ground vanilla beans. “Parenting Magazine” recently recommended this treat as a calcium-rich energy booster. These snacks are available in grocery and health food stores, and won’t get traded away in the lunchroom.
  • Make Calories Count: Avoid packing refined carbohydrates and high fats together in one lunch. Substitution is key. If the main dish runs high in carbs or fats, add a side of veggies or fruit instead of chips or cheesy puffs. This cuts down on obesity-inducing foods that also might leave your child sluggish for the rest of the day. Substitute water for soda or juice, avoiding empty calories and sugar.
  • Play Dress-Up: Just because it’s made of vegetables, doesn’t have to mean boring. Dress-up a salad with nuts and dried fruit to make it more fun by adding crunch and sweetness. Mix in nuts, dried cranberries or apple slices. Or, opt for a pre-packaged nut blend that combines tree nuts with dried fruit like pomegranate or berries. Just be sure it’s not loaded with sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Select one with organic evaporated cane juice or some natural honey instead.
  • Let Kids Choose: Have children help with the shopping and preparation. Take a visit to the local farmer’s market where the kids can taste test and choose their favorite seasonal produce. Cut fruits and veggies into fun shapes, add happy faces with raisins and nuts, and make items bite size for small hands and mouths.

For more healthful food ideas and recipes, visit www.sahalesnacks.com.

“Getting kids to eat right can be challenging, but you can make it easier by only buying things you want them to eat and instilling healthy eating habits at an early age,” stresses Schroeter.

Posted in SchoolsComments Off on Packing healthy school lunches for kids

Ray Winnie
Kent County Credit Union


Get Your Copy of The Cedar Springs Post for just $40 a year!