08 September 2009

good old golden rule time


Labor Day has come and gone, and while you can keep on wearing your whites (some fashion rules are simply outdated), you and your young ones will have to wear them on your walk to school. Here are a few tips to make this academic year a cleaner, greener one!

Getting There: If you live outside your district's busing zone and public transit is simply not an option, try carpooling. Not only will you save on gas costs and reduce emissions, you'll connect with fellow parents (or students) who might otherwise go missed in the haywire of day-to-day life. Carpooling is probably easier than you think: many school have programs already established - just call the administrative offices and ask! Alternately, you can start your own group, meeting up with like minded drivers and managing your schedules with programs like Drive the Ride's calendar.

What to Bring: Like so many bright and flimsy things marketed towards kids, many school supplies are laden with toxic chemicals. PVC, used in everything from colorful binders to plastic lunchboxes, has been linked to autism, attention disorders, and reproductive issues. Many parents have had their fill of these toxic throw-away supplies, and have turned to such excellent shops as The Ultimate Green Store in their quest for back-to-school goods. You can also find an extremely helpful Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies here.

Lunchtime: By now you've surely heard the arguments against the nightmare which is the American schoolroom cafeteria. But even the best-packed superlunch is no good if it never gets eaten. Talk to your child about their lunch. Get them involved in its preparation the night before, if possible. Think from their perspective: will they be embarrassed to pull out a bowl of udon noodles at a table of their peers? If so, odds are slim that it will be eaten. Keep in mind, also, that many public schools get very little time for eating - a friend of mine who grew up in Chicago had only 15 minutes for her "lunch period". If you're facing a similar situation, consider nutrient-dense foods that can be served in small portions, such as hard boiled eggs, cheese, or whole-fat yogurt.

Home Sweet Home: Make the most out of your child's school day by talking to them. Ask to see their folders to check for fliers or important forms. Knowing what's happening at school allows you to engage in their academic progress, whether that's by starting a mini-herb garden for biology or taking a trip to the local art museum. If you're the student, make sure your home is a place that is conducive to study, but also a respite from the academic world. We all need a break once in a while!

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