Back To School Tips

Back-to-School Tips to Keep Kids Healthy and Safe

Back-to-school prep means more than a trip to the office supply store. Help kids stay strong, healthy and safe this school year by putting wellness front and center.

“Thinking about back-to-school now can help parents keep kids on track for a healthy summer and start to school,” says Dr. Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

With that in mind, Hassink recommends taking the following steps.

Ease into the School Schedule

Ease the back-to-school transition by keeping bedtime and meals scheduled during the summer and adjusting timing as school approaches. If your child has been going to bed later than usual, begin adjusting his or her bedtime earlier toward the end of summer. Depending on age, children and teens need between 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep nightly.

For young children, arranging to see their new classroom and meet their new teacher before school starts can calm first day jitters. Go over the school schedule with your child, including how she will get to school and what the plans are for after school time.

Schedule a Pediatric Visit

The back-to-school season is a good time for scheduling a pediatric exam. Create a list of items you want to discuss with your child’s pediatrician. This list should include ensuring your child is up-to-date on vaccinations, a crucial part of preventive care.

It’s a good idea to build a medical home with a pediatrician by sticking with one doctor or medical practice throughout childhood and adolescence. The doctor will be better informed of your child’s medical history and aware of any emerging problems.

Beyond medical testing, pediatricians are well-equipped to counsel patients and parents on emotional and social issues, as well as issues that often crop up during adolescence, such as smoking, drugs, drinking, sexual activity and depression.

“Parents can ask a pediatrician about anything related to the care of their child or teen, medical or not,” says Dr Hassink. “The visit can be a good way to bring up these issues.”

Consider Sports

Sports can foster confidence, cooperation and healthy habits, and the start of the school year brings many opportunities to join various programs.

Hydration, nutrition and proper conditioning are important for any sport, especially those with intense training in warm weather. Schedule a sports physical with your pediatrician to discuss your child’s overall health and how to prevent injuries.

Talk Safety

If your child will be walking to school, travel the route with him to assess its safety. Find out about traffic patterns and crossing guards. Teach your child safety rules like looking both ways. If possible, have your child commute with an older sibling or neighbor. If your child will be riding a bike or skateboard, be sure he wears a helmet. Review basic rules for safer riding. Bus riders should also be mindful of safety rules, like remaining in one’s seat and listening to the driver.

More back-to-school tips can be found at

As a parent, you can take steps to help ensure your children are prepared for a happy, healthy school year.

Back-to-School Organization Tips for a Successful School Year

When the school year begins, students need to quickly get back into the swing of things. Staying organized from day one can ease the transition.

While every individual needs to tweak his or her routine to best suit personality quirks and study habits, here are a few tried-and-true organization tricks that will work for most anyone:

Get Scheduled

While the word “bedtime” may have no meaning on summer vacation, during the school year, it’s vital. A regular sleep schedule can mean better quality sleep and higher alertness at school. Likewise, a morning routine can help students focus and prep for the day.

Family members should share their schedules with each other to ensure everyone gets to practice, club meetings and other activities on time. Install a household calendar or bulletin board in a central location to ensure everyone stays in the know.

Stomp out Clutter

Lockers and backpacks need to stay organized. Whether notebooks, binders and textbooks are arranged by sequence of the day, subject or color isn’t important so long as the system works for you. To create more storage space in your locker, add durable, stackable locker shelving.

For on-the-go book hauling, look for a backpack such as the Five Star Expandable Backpack that features two expanding compartments providing additional space, along with protected storage for laptops.

Its patented zipper allows you to quickly get inside your backpack while it’s hanging in your locker. Ergonomic patent-pending straps distribute weight to comfortably support a heavy load.

To cheer up your locker with a boost of color and add a place for quick reminders and mementos, try the Five Star Magnetic Mirror + Push Pin Board. Its slam-resistant magnets will keep it affixed to the inside door of your locker. There isn’t much time between classes, so a mirror is a welcome locker feature when there isn’t time for the bathroom.

Organizational tools such as these can keep your ducks in a row all year long. Also remember to set time aside weekly to clean out your locker and backpack, throwing out candy wrappers and crumpled notes.

Personal Organization

Students need to be able to keep more belongings than ever with them throughout the day — traditional school supplies, paperwork, flash drives, calculators and other electronics. A binder that can contain it all will give students a chance to make sure their lives are in order, not just a class at a time. For a secure method of carrying supplies, look for the Trapper Keeper Zipper binder, with pockets and dividers to keep items organized, and the Five Star Zipper Binder + Expansion Pocket, which features storage for textbooks and a tablet, and has an adjustable strap that allows you to carry the binder messenger style or on your back.

At home, it’s easy to get distracted from important tasks like studying and homework. Create a dedicated work space away from televisions and other distractions. Make sure the area is comfortable, well-lit and conducive to great work.

More study tools and tips can be found at

The right tools and habits can empower students for a successful and organized school year.


4 Big Mistakes College Students Make

College is when many young people first get a taste of independence. Unfortunately, this newfound freedom can lead to decisions that may impact life well beyond graduation.

How can you avoid the pitfalls plaguing fellow scholars? Here are strategies for dodging common mistakes made by college students:

Hurting Your Credit

You may be presented with credit card offers for the first time; and building good credit can help lay the groundwork for future financial options — but proceed wisely. College seniors owed $4,100 in credit card debt by graduation, according to recent research from

Don’t let credit cards be an excuse to spend beyond your means. Start with a line of credit you can handle. If you manage that well, later on you’ll be able to borrow more.

To maintain good credit, pay your statement on time and more than the minimum due each month, keep balances low, keep long-standing accounts open, and avoid applying for too many credit cards. Remember to check credit history often. Look for a credit card that offers perks like cash back rewards and a low APR.

Overdoing It

College is about earning a degree. However, it’s also about making lifelong friends and exploring interests. Keep this in mind when choosing courses for the semester.

For example, it may not be the best idea to stack five of the most challenging courses offered by the school into one semester. Not only will it be hard to devote the attention needed for each class, you may leave yourself little time to take on other projects and internships that could also benefit your future.

Bad Money Management

College is expensive, and beyond the expenses you already know about — tuition, books, and housing — you will incur many other expenses along the way, from lab fees to gas to cell phone bills.

“Setting up a budget is crucial, particularly if your spending money is drawn from a loan or grant,” says John Rasmussen, head of Education Financial Services at Wells Fargo. “You’ll need that money to last if you don’t have another stream of revenue.”

Don’t form bad financial habits now, as do so many college students. Take advantage of free resources, such as Wells Fargo’s Get College Ready site, to learn more about banking, building good credit and paying for college. The site features tips, and tools such as My Money Map, which offers a way to track spending, set budgeting goals and monitor savings. It also offers advice on topics like renters insurance and student loans. Visit to learn more.

Not Sleeping

Between cramming and socializing, shuteye may be in short supply. However, quality sleep is fundamental to quality learning. If you’re a night owl, avoid early morning classes. Also, avoid procrastination, which can lead to all-nighters.

College lasts just a few years but what you do there can affect your life for years to come. Use your independence to make smart decisions that are good for your future.


4 Easy Ways to Prep for Back-to-School

With the back-to-school season gearing up, getting the kids prepped and ready for a successful academic year can quickly add up.

Discount retailer Dollar General is sharing tips to make the experience easier and more affordable.

Use the List

Schools usually provide supply lists to ensure the classroom is well-stocked and students have what they need for the year. To ensure you are getting exactly what your student needs, take some time to review classroom necessities before making purchases.

Tax-Free Weekends

Several states and localities offer tax-free weekends prior to the start of the new school year. Tax-free items include school and office supplies, backpacks, lunch boxes, clothes and some electronics. Take full advantage of the savings opportunity when shopping online or at local retailers like Dollar General, for supplies ranging from folders, pencils, pens, notebooks and binders, to backpacks, lunch coolers and clothing basics.

Think Outside the Lunchbox

Back-to-school also means back to making early morning breakfasts and packing lunches and snacks. Stock up on easy school meal needs, from bread, eggs and cereal to peanut butter, jelly and chips. To feed your hungry students, find quick and delicious meal ideas at DG Meals

Save Time and Money Online

No more time wasted in traffic. No more extra expense at the pump. Online ordering is a great way to save money, gas and time while having all your school and home supplies just a click away. For example, Dollar General offers the same selections online as you will find in-store. Visit or text JOIN to 34898 for exclusive digital coupons which can help you save even more on back-to-school needs. You can also sign up for auto-renewal of your favorite items and have them delivered to your door on your schedule.

Back-to-school is back again. But if you shop smart, you can send your students to the classroom with quality supplies and the latest fashions, conveniently and affordably.


To Make Smart School Lunches, Think Like a Kid

Making school lunch can feel like a thankless job, but it doesn’t have to be a major chore. Here are some ways to make school lunches successful, not stressful:

Don’t Over-Pack

Does your child come home with untouched food? For a distracted youngster, lunchtime flies by in an instant. By the time the bell rings, little Suzie has barely peeled the top off her yogurt. Keep portions kid-sized and don’t include more than four or five items in the lunchbox.

Think Food Groups

Think of the lunchbox as a four-piece puzzle. The basic components are protein, grain, fruit/vegetable and dairy.

Try making lunch kebobs with cold cut slices and chunks of cheese (your dairy and protein groups), add a handful of grapes (fruit) and a bagful of popcorn (grain). Or pack hummus, carrots and wheat pita (protein, grain and veggie), along with applesauce (fruit) and a cheese stick (dairy). Olives or pickles add extra flavor without too much extra fat or calories.

Let Them Assemble

Pack individual ingredients kids can assemble, which makes them feel like they’re more in control of what they eat. For example, include a half bagel with a container of shredded mozzarella, tomato sauce and some sliced olives or pepperoni slices so they can make their own pizza. Add a piece of fruit to round out the meal.

Pick Portable Foods

Nothing’s worse than a lunchbox explosion. Whenever possible, opt for dry foods and tight lids. Pack trail mix, dried fruit, granola bars or snacks in single-serve cups, such as Pearls Olives to Go! black ripe pitted or sliced olives. Such foods usually have the added advantage of not spoiling, which means they can be saved for afternoon snacking.

Keep Snacks in the Car

Kids always seem to want an afterschool snack. If home is a bit of a drive, keep snacks on hand. Nuts, trail mix, single-serve olive cups and fruit are better options for a ravenous child. Keep in mind, hungry kids are more likely to try novel foods they might otherwise be reluctant to try.

Get Input

If your child is not eating enough, find out why. Ask your child to create a list of foods every few months, as tastes change and broaden. Add favorites to the rotation. Remember, just because your child eats a certain food at dinnertime doesn’t mean it will be a popular lunch item.

Get Cute

If you’re feeling ambitious, cut sandwiches into shapes. Sliced cherry tomatoes or olives make easy eyes, buttons and mouths. A simple post-it note with a smiley face or “love you” will go a long way to brightening your child’s day.

For more tips, recipes and coupons, or to enter a lunch box promotion for a chance to win prizes, visit

Lunch isn’t rocket science, but creating meals children will love every day can get tricky. Simple strategies can help ensure kids return from school with empty lunch boxes and satisfied tummies.

Five Golden Rules for Kids Using Tech Devices

The next generation of smartphone users is getting a head start on device destruction. Children are breaking more smartphones, tablets and laptops than ever before, say experts.

Their tech-forward parents have so far shelled out more than $11 billion to repair or replace such devices, according to a recent report from SquareTrade, a protection plan for mobile devices and other consumer electronics.

“Teaching tech etiquette alongside the ABCs and 123s is a smart idea for sanity at home. And for the 89 percent of households whose kids have damaged devices, it makes great financial sense,” says Jessica Hoffman, vice president of global communications for SquareTrade. “Kids as young as toddlers are getting significant doses of screen time and, as a result, accident rates are climbing.”

The report also found that 70 percent of elementary school kids own tablets and a whopping 55 percent of accidents happen from children accidentally dropping their devices. Not surprisingly, 20 percent of kids blame someone or something else for the mishap.

“Kids and technology are as popular a pairing these days as peanut butter and jelly,” says Hoffman. “As smartphones, tablets and laptops replace dolls and toy cars as children’s most prized possessions, we recommend that parents do their homework on how best to deal with at-home tech habits, or risk having their child on the device dishonor roll.”

SquareTrade suggests the following five golden rules to keep in mind before letting kids use electronic devices:

• Don’t pack devices into overstuffed, heavy backpacks without proper protective gear. Tablets cannot handle the wear and tear that a book can absorb.

• On rainy days or when you will be around water, use a zip lock bag for your smartphone or tablet.

• No eating or drinking while using devices. Sticky liquids are the most dangerous.

• Limit screen time in the car. Siblings fighting can lead to devices flying out of windows.

• No matter what precautions you take, accidents can still happen. Invest in a protection plan that covers the clumsy drops, juice spills and backpack crushes of daily life.

Repairing a broken device can often cost as much as buying a new one. A good protection plan can cost just a few dollars a month and can buy priceless peace of mind for parents worried about everyday accidents and other “uh-ohs.” So even if your child breaks a device, there’s no need to stress: you’re covered. For information on protection plans, visit

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Tweak habits at home, school and on-the-go to prevent technology breakage.


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