By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 26, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 26, 2012) -- Summer vacation is winding down and school is getting back in session, and Fort Rucker officials are offering tips to make the transition from summer life to school life safe and easy for parents and children.
Fort Rucker schools will start Aug. 6, but Daleville, Enterprise, Ozark, Coffee County and Dothan schools will start Aug. 20, according to Kim Kozel, youth education support services director and Fort Rucker school liaison officer.
The transition from summer life to school life can be difficult on both parents and children, but Kozel offers some ways that parents can prepare their children for the change, and one way to start is by getting back into school time routines.
"Reestablish bedtime and mealtime routines," she said. "It is important to start getting children involved in a bedtime routine a couple of weeks before the start of school."
It's important for children to develop these routines before school starts so that they make sure that they are getting the proper amount of rest that is required to be productive at school, she added.
"Talk to your children about the importance of a nutritious breakfast and proper rest," said Kozel. "Also, get them used to getting up, dressed and eating breakfast within the required time to prepare for their schedule once school starts."
Parents should have a place in the home for children to store their backpacks and other school belongings, said the liaison officer. There should also be an area for important notices for parents to see that the children bring home from school.
Getting prepared at home is just one way to get Families ready for the start of school. Kozel suggests that parents with first-time students visit the school with the children before the start of the school year to ease tensions.
The Fort Rucker Elementary School and Fort Rucker Primary School will give parents the opportunity to tour the school with their Open House and Sneak a Peek Aug. 3 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. and 2:45-3:45 p.m. respectively, according to Vicki Gilmer, Fort Rucker Elementary School principal.
Elementary school students can also visit the school Aug. 2 at 3 p.m. to check the front window for class assignments, she said.
"A visit may help to settle pre-school anxieties, especially if [the children] are just starting," said Kozel. "Allow children to ask questions about their new school environment. Show them their classroom … the cafeteria, the playground and where the bus may be picking them up or dropping them off."
It's also important for parents to try and ease fears by letting their children know that they are comfortable and confident in the school, said Kozel.
"Transitioning from laid back summer to an activity-filled school day can take some adjustment," said the liaison officer. "If you can ease into the structured routine before school starts, the entire Family will benefit and the transition should me more smooth."
Transitioning for the children is crucial during back to school time, but the transition is just as important for people living near schools or high traffic areas for children during school hours, according to Peggy Contreras, Fort Rucker Community Police supervisor.
"The biggest thing is to remind people [in the communities] that school is starting back up and safety for the children is a priority," she said. "People driving on the installation should slow down because of the extra children and people walking to get to school."
Part of a parent's responsibility during this time of year is to make sure that their children know how to get to and from school safely if they are walking or riding bicycles, said Contreras.
"For those that are walking and riding their bikes, parents should teach their children that they should not be in the roadway," she said, adding that children riding bicycles must wear proper protective gear and must dismount their bicycles when crossing a crosswalk.
Contreras suggests that parents get to know the school routes with their children and walk with the children for at least the first week, and also get to know the neighbors that their children might be traveling with to school.
"They should try to get a buddy system going if they have neighbors going to school as well," said the community police supervisor.
She also advises parents to make sure their children know that there will be a main crosswalk in front of the elementary school on Red Cloud Road that the children will be required to cross.
It's also important that children do not arrive to the school before 7:30 a.m., said Contreras.
"Last year there were issues with children getting there too early and climbing trees, throwing rocks and fighting, which poses obvious safety issues," she said. "We don't want children there with no supervision, so it's the parent's responsibility to make sure they get to school when they are supposed to."
For more information, visit http://www.am.dodea.edu/rucker, or call 255-9812.