With balmy beach weather finally gracing the coastal North County areas, the prospect of leaving sun, surf, sand and the lazy days of summer behind may seem daunting to kids and parents alike. But reality has arrived in the form of August, and so our students must head back to school. There is a season for everything, as the biblical verse tells us (and The Byrds musically agreed), and this is the season to head back into the classroom and hit the books.
Local schools begin their fall sessions anywhere from early August (Guajome Park Academy in Vista began August 13th) to late September (UCSD students start September 23rd). Encinitas Union (Elementary) begins Monday, August 19th; Vista Unified and San Marcos Unified begin Tuesday, August 20th; St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Encinitas starts August 22nd; Solana Beach (Elementary) District starts August 26 as does Cal State San Marcos; San Dieguito Union, which includes high schools Torrey Pines, La Costa Canyon, Canyon Crest, and San Dieguito Academy as well as four middle schools, begins August 27th. The latest public school start in the North County Coastal area belongs to Carlsbad Unified, which will welcome students on August 28th, as will Pacific Ridge, a private school also in Carlsbad. Only St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Carlsbad will delay its first day until Tuesday, September 3rd, after the Labor Day weekend. Labor Day, contrary to its name, is typically the holiday that marks summer’s final blast of fun, although the old model of beginning school after the holiday is no longer true for the majority.
The usual back to school shopping list might include writing utensils, paper, binders and notebooks, backpacks, rulers, glue, plus new clothes and shoes. Some tech items might be required, especially for older students, such as flash drives and graphing calculators. Optional but popular tech toys for academic use include e-readers and tablet computers, although it is wise to ask your child's school if they allow classroom use of these devices. For the students' own protection, many elementary and middle schools discourage bringing expensive electronics to campus because they are easily lost, damaged, or stolen.
Flu shots are already available at drug stores, and don't forget the now required pertussis shot - the Tdap. As of July 1, 2011, state law requires that all students entering 7th through 12th grades must have proof of a Tdap booster shot. (For more information, visit the California Department of Public Health website. For a complete listing of immunizations needed for students in California schools, consult the CDPH website ShotsforSchool.org.)
Oh, and don't forget the books. Even before your child is assigned textbooks and has to haul home a set for after-school use, she should have a good book to read. Free reading will likely be the first homework assignment given, and even if there is no homework for the first few days, reading can be done every night, independently, to get the brain back into thinking mode. For suggestions, consult the American Library Association website. To search specific titles or by grade and reading level criteria, visit the Department of Education "Recommended Literature" page.
School safety might also be on parents’ minds especially as they send little ones to their first full-day experience or send their tweens up to the middle school for the first time. The City of Carlsbad has tips for parents about coaching children on crosswalk safety and being aware while walking to and from school. The Carlsbad City website also reminds community members to mind school traffic zone regulations and pay attention to crosswalk and school bus areas.
As the countdown to cooler weather and shorter days begins, and you try to squeeze in a few more fun and relaxing summer activities with your kids, you can also look forward to the return of regular schedules and rigorous school work that keeps young minds busy - in a way, a return to serenity. As Einstein reportedly said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” Hopefully, summer fun was had in spades, and now we can enjoy the satisfaction that comes with responsibility, routines, and reading, writing, and arithmetic.