Getting ready to go back to school

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2004

It’s hard to believe back-to-school time is almost here when it’s still hot enough to fry the proverbial egg on a sidewalk, but it’s true. Many local parents will soon be loading up on school supplies and shopping for back-to-school clothing as August and the new school year fast approaches.

For families who are just starting out with their school days, the whole experience can be overwhelming for both parent and child alike. When should you start shopping for school clothes and what are the best choices? What sort of school supplies should you buy? Most importantly, how can you help your child make the most of his or her classroom experience?

It’s time to ask those in the know. Cindy Moore, manager of B.C. Moore and Sons Department Store in Greenville’s Gateway Plaza; Linda McVey of The Greenville Shoe Shop downtown; Paige Barr, first grade teacher at W.O. Parmer Elementary and a veteran of eleven years in the classroom, and Mary Ann Hamilton, active school volunteer and mom to Steiner, seven and Perry, eleven, recently shared with The Greenville Advocate some words of wisdom on making the most of going back to school.

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A-plus fashion finds

&uot;The sales on back-to-school clothes are going on now so you can save on the things you’ll need later,&uot; Moore said. Popular brand lines such as Southpole currently offer savings of 25% and more at the store.

Moore says parents simply can’t miss with classic pieces offered by Moore’s, including ‘L.E.I.’ khaki flat-front pants for girls and durable cargo pants by ‘U.S. Polo Association’ for boys. Other popular lines offered by the store include Tommy Hilfiger, Carter’s, Levi’s, OTB, Lee and ‘BC Kids.’

&uot;Of course, jeans are always a good choice for back to school for boys and girls,&uot; said Moore. The store offers jeans in a variety of colors and styles from basic carpenter jeans to fashion denim studded with rhinestones or brightened with colorful appliqu/s.

The layered look is once again front and center, as demonstrated by knit tops for girls from ‘Star Ride’. The tops feature contrasting collars, cuffs and faux shirt tails designed to be worn on the outside.

&uot;Think pink,&uot; continues to be the rule of order this fall fashion season, Moore says. The rosy shade is featured in dresses, sweaters, handbags and jewelry.

Moore’s also offers a selection of children’s shoes, including sandals, classic Mary Janes, clogs and the ever-popular athletic shoe in a range of styles and prices.

Some of the back-to-school lines currently featured include Timberland, Bass, Pebblebrook, Miss Becky, Nike, Reebok and Skechers.

&uot;We encourage families to stop in and shop locally for their back-to-school fashion needs,&uot; Moore said. The Gateway Plaza store is open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

According to manager Linda McVey, a wide selection of shoes perfect for back to school can be found at one of the Camellia City’s downtown retail fixtures, the Greenville Shoe Shop.

&uot;We have all the top athletic brands, including K-Swiss, Nike, Reebok and New Balance. We’re offering great buys on them for back to school too,&uot; McVey said. Some of the Greenville Shoe Shop’s most popular styles allow customers to buy one pair and get the second pair at half price, while others offer a second pair for just a penny when the first pair is purchased at regular price.

Children’s sandals and dress shoes are also on sale right now, McVey said, along with ladies’ dress shoes and a large assortment of handbags.

&uot;It’s a great place to shop for your back-to-school needs – I promise we’ll save you money,&uot; said McVey.

The Greenville Shoe Shop is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays. Saturday shopping hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the end of July, changing to a 5 p.m. closing beginning in August.

Mary Ann Hamilton says she starts her back-to-school shopping for Perry and Steiner during the summer to take advantage of pre-season sales.

&uot;Feet always grow over the summer, so new shoes are definitely on our list – and, of course, blue jeans,&uot; she explained.

If at all possible, Hamilton says, the family shops together. &uot;I let them select what they like – however, they know Mama has final veto power. Following the school dress code usually settles any arguments,&uot; she said.

Making a list…

With all the preparation needed for getting ready for school, both Hamilton and teacher Paige Barr agree you’ve got to make a list which should include picking up your child’s teacher’s supply list.

&uot;You usually learn the week before school starts who your child’s teacher will be…we always wait for a supply list from the assigned teacher rather than relying on a generic list. This saves extra shopping trip time and money – unfortunately, everybody else is at the supply store with you, so be prepared,&uot; Hamilton said.

Barr says parents can be a big help to teachers by planning and shopping early.

&uot;It’s always helpful if parents purchase supplies before the first day of school. They need to invest in a permanent marker to label all the school supplies – and always unwrap items such as glue sticks and scissors before marking them. Otherwise the wrapper with the child’s name on it gets thrown away,&uot; Barr explained.

She says parents can also help save time on the first day of school by pre-filling any required supply boxes with items such as crayons, glue, scissors and pencils from the supply list.

Hamilton reminds parents to check with their school to see what the specifics are on backpack requirements. At W.O. Parmer, for example, clear backpacks without rollers are the required style.

&uot;I love the clear backpacks. It’s so much easier to see what the children are taking (or are forgetting to take) home at the end of the day,&uot; said Barr.

The teacher has another word of advice concerning supplies: if it isn’t on the teacher’s supply list, please don’t send it to school. &uot;The less young children have to keep up with, the better,&uot; Barr emphasized.

Hamilton also recommends parents make sure shots and immunizations are up to date for children just beginning school.

Get involved

Both Barr and Hamilton agree: when it comes to getting an education, parents and children will get out of an opportunity what they put into it. That means getting involved, working with teachers as part of team and encouraging children to make the most of each school day.

&uot;The first advice we offer as parents is to personally introduce yourself and your child to your new teacher and principal. As your child gets older, this includes more teachers each year, i.e., teachers for different subjects, PE teachers, band teachers, even librarians and school nurses. It’s a good idea to meet the school secretary and office staff. Let everyone know you would like to help in whatever capacity is needed and always make time for teacher conferences during the school year,&uot; Hamilton stressed.

Barr encourages parents to work with their children on basic skills of daily living in order to make them more independent at school.

&uot;I worked with my own child, Lacey, on things such as buttoning and zipping pants and tying shoes. She had her own box at home to store supplies – I even made her practice opening containers for snacks and drinks. Even though some children cannot master these things as well as others, just taking the time to encourage them strengthens fine motor skills that will be needed for coloring, cutting and writing,&uot; Barr said.

While parents often walk their young children to school the first few days, &uot;the sooner the child enters the classroom independently, the better,&uot; says Barr.

&uot;Teachers need to have their mind on the students… children who arrive to school prepared each day will feel comfortable and ready to learn,&uot; she explained.

Forewarned is forearmed for educators, Hamilton says. &uot;If your child has any particular strengths or weaknesses, it’s good to give the new teacher heads up in advance… it helps the teacher be better prepared to deal with your child,&uot; she explained.

Be positive, be committed

A parent’s attitude toward education, be it good, bad or indifferent, often filters down to the child, Barr says.

&uot;Talk positively with your child about school. Don’t be quick to criticize your child’s teacher or school. Negative remarks about a teacher said in the presence of a child will only open the door to additional problems,&uot; she explained.

Barr added these words of wisdom: &uot;Talk to your child about his or her school day…look at the work sent home. Praise his or her efforts. Read all notes and newsletters and make sure your child does his or her homework each night…help your child establish good habits that will last a lifetime.&uot;

Mary Ann Hamilton says for parents, it all boils down to this: be committed.

&uot;If you want your child to be committed to school, you as a parent should commit to the school as well. Join and participate in the PTA…know what is going in at school. Make sure your child completes their homework and special assignments each night…know when tests are scheduled and see if your child is prepared,&uot; Hamilton emphasized.

Getting your child into an established routine is very important, she adds.

&uot;Establishing a schedule for bedtime, etc., and sticking to it gives your child an optimal opportunity to succeed and be prepared each day,&uot; said Hamilton.