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There's lots to do at home before school bells ring


Before you know it, school bells will be ringing again. But before the little ones scurry off to school, most parents will do a little scurrying themselves to beat the back-to-school rush and the sinking feeling that accompanies being unprepared for the first day of school.

To beat the rush, parents should start preparing. Here are some of those steps:

* Train your children to get up on time. Wake them up 15 minutes earlier every day until the desired hour is reached.

* Get medical records updated. Locate medical records for each child and find out who needs immunizations updated. (See checklist above.)

* Limit television viewing. It is easier to do during the rerun season than when the fall previews begin.

* Shop for basics such as underwear, socks and T-shirts, pens, pencils and notebooks, but save some clothes purchases until after school begins so children can see what others are wearing.

* Take kids starting school for the first time to visit the classroom and be sure to point out the bathroom.

* Buy a big calendar and write in all work and school holidays.

Don't linger on the first day

It's probably best not to linger on the first day of school. "I think it's better to go," says Dr. David Elkind, professor of child study at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. "If you prolong leaving, the child feels he has control over the situation. Reassure him, but be firm about leaving." Dr. Elkind cautions that if the parent vacillates or appears worried, the child will take that behavior as a cue that there is, indeed, something to be concerned about.

If the child continues to cry unconsolably after a few days, a relative or care giver may be enlisted to drop him off instead. In rare instances, Dr. Elkind says, the daily battle may become an unbreakable habit and "you may need to explore what's going on with the child and get some help from a professional."

Tooth fairy is female

Researchers for Baby Orajel Tooth & Gum Cleanser asked a group of kindergartners through second-graders in New York City what gender the tooth fairy was. The majority believed the tooth fairy is a woman rather than a man. The final vote: 333 to 18.

Divorce peaked in 1981

Les Krantz, author of "What The Odds Are," shares these statistics on marriage in the August issue of Reader's Digest: The divorce rate peaked in 1981, when the number of divorces was more than half the number of marriages. The average marriage lasts about 23 years, and one in eight couples will celebrate their 50th anniversary.

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