State Senate Report: So long summer, hello school

By Sen. Patty Ritchie

It’s hard to believe that students are gearing up for the start of another school year full of fun and new challenges.

While students are doing a lot to prepare for new teachers, classrooms, subjects and friends, it’s also important for parents to take steps to ensure a smooth beginning to the school year.

Here are some tips to take you — and your family — smoothly from summertime to school time:

Shop smart: Between new clothes and supplies, shopping for back to school necessities can get expensive. Luckily, in New York state, shoppers no longer pay state sales tax on clothing purchases up to $110. This saves the typical family of four nearly $200 per year.

Also, when purchasing a backpack for your child, it’s important to pick one that’s lightweight with padded shoulder straps and a padded back that doesn’t strain his or her back.

Stay healthy: When it comes to academic performance, eating healthy is a key factor. Studies have shown that students who eat balanced, nutritious breakfasts and lunches are more alert throughout the school day and earn higher grades than children who have unhealthy diets.

Drive safely: As the school year begins, it’s more important than ever to drive safely and be alert on the roads. Drivers must slow down when they see a school bus with flashing yellow lights, and state law requires drivers to stop when the red lights on a school bus are flashing — even if the bus is in the parking lot of a school.

Also, when going in the opposite direction, drivers must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus to allow children to cross the road safely.

Get involved: Typically, students who succeed in the classroom have lots of support at home. It’s important to get involved in your children’s education by reading to them at home or having them read to you nightly, acknowledging and rewarding them for their accomplishments and getting to know their teachers as well as their schedule and subjects of study.

Back to school time can be one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year but remember, it can also be one of the most fun.

If you have students who are heading back to the classroom, I wish you the best of luck as you begin a new school year full of learning, excitement and new experiences.

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