Prep notes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 10, 2002

Everywhere, kids are stocking up on glue sticks, lined paper and No. 2 pencils. They're buying new lunch boxes, new backpacks and new shoes. As much as they don't want to admit it, they're getting ready for the new school year with a new teacher and new classmates.

In addition to checking off items from the lists of school supplies their children need for the upcoming year, there are other things parents should do to make sure their kids are ready for the fall.


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Making sure your child is properly vaccinated is required by law, even though the laws regarding what vaccinations are needed for which grade vary somewhat from state to state.

Karen Freese, a public health nurse and the school nurse at the LeRoy school says Minnesota law says students entering school must have received five vaccinations for diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus (DPT), four shots of the polio vaccine and one vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). In order to enter kindergarten, a Minnesota child must also have one Hepatitis B shot series. If your student is going into seventh grade, he or she will need a second Hepatitis B shot series and a second MMR shot.

The only difference for students in Iowa is that children must have the second MMR shot before entering kindergarten.

"Ideally, and it was written into the law last year, but they're not going to enforce it this year because of vaccine shortages, children should get a second tetanus shot after age 11," Freese adds.

Mower County Public Health also offers a chicken pox vaccination, but it is not required by law.

Though a child is supposed to be vaccinated before they enter school, Freese says exceptions are made "for those who do not want their child vaccinated for whatever reason." However, those parents will have to fill out a conscientious objector form that must be notarized.

Vaccinations at Mower County Public Health are $10 apiece. They offer shot clinics from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m., every Friday, on a first come, first serve basis. They also will offer two extra clinics on Aug. 19 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and on Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. until noon.

Study tips for the new school year

Studying becomes more and more important the older your child gets. By setting a regular study schedule at the beginning of the year, your student will stay organized and on top of their assignments from the time the first bell rings.

Peter Canavan, a teacher and guidance counselor who maintains a Web site designed to help students do better in school,, outlines a plan for studying. He advises students to write down all assignments immediately and understand exactly what the teacher expects for each task.

He says students should make sure they have everything they need to study with them and have an organized plan for what they want to accomplish during each session. "Plan when you will study, a consistent time and place is best," Canavan says. "Break down large tasks into smaller ones."

He also advises making sure you have a comfortable chair, good lighting that is not too bright and not too dim and a solid, flat surface to write on that is clear of clutter so you can concentrate better.

However, he says, if you start to daydream, you should stop studying right away. Taking frequent breaks from studying also will help your concentration and "this may mean every 10 minutes to begin with," he says.

Note-taking tips

Like learning how to study properly, learning how to take notes at the beginning of the school year, will help your student stay organized and have a better understanding of the material they are being taught in class.

Canavan's Web site also has tips for taking notes. "Taking notes in class is a skill like any other. The more you do it, the better you will become," he says.

He advises students to be prepared with paper and a pen or pencil at the beginning of class and avoid talking, eating, drinking or any other behavior that could be distracting to you or other students.

Canavan says that whatever you do, you shouldn't write down every word of the teacher's lecture. Instead, he suggests listening for what is emphasized and for information that is repeated, because those are probably important. He also says students should develop their own way of abbreviating words, briefly summarize material on which the teacher elaborates and write down notes in an outline form.

After class, he advises going over your notes while "your memory is still fresh," and make sure you identify main ideas by underlining or highlighting them. "Taking 10 minutes after class to review your notes will save you much more time later," he says.

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at