Experts share advice on back-to-school supplies, health, motivation

In less than a month, local schools will welcome students again for the 2021-22 school year.

The impending summer break in school has prompted questions from parents and guardians about everything from school supplies to masks and their children’s physical and mental health, especially amid the pandemic of COVID-19.

Fortunately, local experts have answers.

When can I get duty free school supplies and clothing?

One way to reduce the financial impact of back-to-school purchases is to take advantage of the Ohio sales tax holiday that begins at midnight on Friday August 6 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday August 8.

Following:Next sales tax holiday cuts back on clothing and back-to-school purchases

Here are the main items that will be exempt from state and local sales and use tax during the holidays:

  • A garment priced at $ 75 or less. If the item sells for more than $ 75, tax is due on the full sale price. Splitting an item normally sold into a single unit, such as shoes, to reduce the price of each item to $ 75 or less is not permitted.
  • One qualifying school supply item priced at $ 20 or less.
  • One item of qualified school teaching materials priced at $ 20 or less.

To find more information on what is considered clothing, supplies, and educational materials, visit the Ohio Department of Taxation’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

How can I protect my child’s health at school?

In general, the best way to keep your child healthy in and out of school is to make sure they eat a healthy, balanced diet, get enough sleep and stay hydrated, according to Dr. P. Cooper White, pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital.

While children’s physical health is on White’s mind at the start of each school year, the delta variant of COVID-19 is an added concern for him this year.

Akron's Ilene Owen purchases supplies for Walmart Law School in Brimfield Township on Friday.

“We expect things to be more normal, but we still have a large portion of our unvaccinated child population,” he said. “The pandemic is still here and continuing and we must always respect its potential effect on children and the potential for unvaccinated children to spread it within their families. “

White believes there are many benefits for students returning to school in person, such as more social interactions and an overall motivation to learn, but stresses that following the guidelines for masking and social distancing in the classroom. Your child’s school is an important part of keeping them and their peers safe.

How can I prepare my child to return to face-to-face lessons?

For some students, this will be the first time they have entered a classroom in over a year. Thus, making sure they feel supported and know what to expect are key factors in their transition from virtual to in-person teaching.

According to Dr Allyson Weldon, a pediatric psychologist at Akron Children’s Hospital, talking to your child about returning to school a few weeks before it starts will get them used to the idea again.

Getting children back into the routine they will have once they return to school is another important step families need to take.

“I know a lot of kids and families have fallen into pretty lax routines with online schooling,” Weldon said. “Start thinking, ‘Okay, this is what bedtime will look like.’ “It’s bedtime routine. “” That’s what we have to do every night. “” This is what the morning looks like. “”

Parents of children in transition to another school should take their children to visit the new building and (if possible) their teacher before the start of lessons. This will reduce the anxiety that children sometimes associate with new environments and new people.

Be sure to talk about the positive experiences your child has had at school in the past. It will remind them that there are other aspects of school than just learning to look forward to.

“With everything that is based on anxiety, more [children] avoiding a situation, the more anxious they become, ”explained Weldon. “So talk about those expectations of what school would be like and the positive experiences they’ve had – focusing on the friendships and all of the kids that they’re going to see and play with.”

How will I know if my child has mental health problems?

Since every child is different, the best method parents have to notice a problem is to look for deviations in behavior. An example would be if your child is generally calm in the morning and easy to get to bed but begins to fight on one or both fronts. Another sign is the complaint of headaches or stomach aches which, if not accompanied by fever or vomiting, are often manifestations of anxiety.

“You want to validate that these are real things that they’re going through, but then don’t let them leave school – have a plan in place,” Weldon said. “Be on the lookout for these complaints, for these changes in behavior, as it may indicate that they are being harassed or that they are very anxious or very upset about school.”

But what should you do if you notice these complaints or changes in behavior? While every situation is unique, Weldon suggests that parents systematically validate their child’s feelings, especially if they are pre-teens.

Retired teacher Sharlotte Emerson on Friday purchases school supplies to donate to Walmart's Randolph-Suffield Atwater food shelf in Brimfield Township.

“Don’t tell them how they feel, but get examples like, ‘Looks like you’re feeling sad because you’re doing x, y, and z. “You look nervous because you keep playing with your bracelet or keep biting your nails,” Weldon said. “By giving them that space to say, ‘Yes, I feel that. Then validate them for that concern and open the conversation.

For older kids, Weldon thinks this is a great time for parents to show their support, but without questioning their child too much. At this point in a child’s life, making sure they know they can address their parents with their issues without judgment is what is important.

“We don’t want them to hold back and say something is going on or say they feel a certain way,” she said. “We also don’t want them to feel like their parents don’t care. There must obviously be limits to this.

Where can I find reputable mental health resources?

Even if you don’t think that something is quite right, it can be helpful to talk to your child about their experiences and feelings with a professional. The Department of Psychiatry and Pediatric Psychology at Akron Children’s Hospital has a team of psychologists, including Weldon, only for such tasks.

If you think your child may be harming themselves, they should be evaluated immediately at the nearest emergency room to ensure their safety. Parents and children can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255.

For more information on mental health, Weldon suggests parents check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website.

How can I keep my child motivated this school year?

Many parents struggled before the pandemic to keep their children motivated when it came to going to school and homework – a battle they plan to resume this school year.

For young children, Weldon recommends that parents establish an incentive reward system where the child can do something they enjoy, like watching TV or playing video games, after completing their homework.

Retired teacher Sharlotte Emerson on Friday purchases school supplies to donate to the Randolph Suffield Atwater Food Shelf at Walmart in Brimfield Township.

Another method of inspiring motivation, according to Larry Bender, principal of Hyre High School at Akron Public School, is to show parents their support and interest in their child’s education. Some things that parents can do are put notes in their child’s lunchbox or satchel, drop in from time to time to say hello to them, or talk to them about the worries and stress they are having. may have at school.

“That way the child knows his parents are there to support him in school,” Bender said. “Talk to your child every day. If the child is worried or stressed, or if someone is disturbing them, call the school immediately.

Starting a new school year can be stressful for children and their parents, but support and validation can go a long way in facilitating this process.

Contact Beacon Journal reporter Tawney Beans at tbeans@gannett.com and on Twitter @TawneyBeans.


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