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Helpful hints from homework to backpacks

August 28, 2001|By STEFANIE GREENBERG, Staff Writer

It's early morning and the unfamiliar loud ringing erupts from the alarm clock sitting on the dresser next to the bed.

After hitting the alarm clock twice and eventually getting up to get dressed and eat breakfast, it's time to grab the new backpack sitting next to the door and make a dash for the schoolyard before the first bell rings.

Girls and boys slam car doors and pile out of yellow buses onto the freshly cut yards. Yes, it's that time again.

The first day of school.

This time of year is filled with excitement. New clothes, supplies, backpacks, teachers, schedules and even new schools leave the youth of the Valley with a year full of possibilities.


The first day of school is a fresh slate and a couple education professionals have some advice on how to make the upcoming year a little easier.

"Attendance and doing homework are critical," Roberto Moreno, superintendent of Calexico Unified School District, said.

He said most students who are failing do neither.

Moreno said students need to work a lot harder this year because state accountability requirements are greater than in the past.

However, working hard isn't all there is to school.

"I think students can be serious students," he said, "and have fun, too."

Jacki Hester, principal of Emmett Finley School in Holtville, said students need to have an "I know I can do this" attitude, whether it's in school, outside school or anything that presents itself in (the students) life.

"Have a positive outlook, treat each day as a new adventure, always be prepared and be organized," she said.

"Have all of your school supplies where you know where they are."

She and her staff also are excited about the coming year because of cosmetic improvements around the school, including a lot of painting, she said.

Here are some other tips for starting the school year right:

Tips for making school cool

Follow these tips to prepare for a successful first day, and all the days that follow:

· Get enough sleep so you'll be able to stay awake in class.

· Eat a balanced breakfast to give you the energy you'll need.

· Try to go to school with a positive attitude every day (although it's OK to have a blue funk sometimes).

· Give school your best effort.

· Develop good work habits. That means writing down your assignments and turning in your homework on time.

· Take your time with assignments in and out of the classroom. If you don't understand something, ask the teacher.

· Keep a sense of humor. One teacher we know shows his new students a picture of himself graduating from high school — a grinning ape in a red graduation cap and gown. This usually makes the kids laugh, and it's a good way to remind them that school is fun!

Tips for using backpacks

You can't stop going to school just because your backpack is too heavy. So what can you do? Try these tips to stop backpack pain in its tracks.

· Get the right kind of pack. Here's how:

* Make sure you have a pack with two padded straps that go over your shoulders. The wider the straps, the better.

* Forget about packs that go over one shoulder or across your chest (often called messenger bags) because they don't allow you to center weight evenly over your spine.

* Look for a pack with multiple compartments inside so the weight can be distributed more evenly across your body.

· Find a pack with a waist belt. They're great for helping to distribute the weight of your books much more evenly across your body.

· Consider a pack with wheels. They're the latest thing, but there are guidelines and considerations to keep in mind with this kind of pack, too. Many schools and school districts don't allow rolling backpacks due to kids tripping over them in the halls. Be sure you find out if you can have one and find out the right way to pack it and carry it to be safe.

· Pay attention to what you pack. Put the heaviest books closest to your body when you pack your backpack to reduce strain on your shoulders and neck.

· Use your desk or locker. Don't carry books that you don't need. Use your locker or your desk to store extra books and papers. Leave the video games and CDs at home, too — they only add to the weight of the pack.

· Don't linger with a loaded pack. The longer you carry your pack, the more pressure you're placing upon your back. If you walk home from school, drop off your backpack as soon as possible, then go back outside to play to cut the amount of time you're carrying a heavy load.

· Don't put off homework. Have you ever had a book report due that you let go until the last minute? Did that mean you had to lug home a backpack full of heavy library books? Try doing a little bit of homework each night so your bag won't be overflowing with books.

When you follow the backpack rules, you'll be doing your back a favor and even saving yourself from some pain!

This information was provided by KidsHealth, one of the largest resources online for medically reviewed health information written for parents, kids, and teens. For more articles like this one, log onto or

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