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Dear Teacher Being Involved in Your Middle Schooler’s Education

Question: How can I stay involved in my son’s education as he enters middle school? In elementary school, I was a room mother and very active in the PTA. Now, he wants me to back off and stay away from his new school. - Concerned

Answer: Being involved in your children’s education defi- nitely becomes trickier and trickier for parents after they leave elementary school. Many, like your son, are no longer eager for their parents to come to school or to talk to their teachers. Nevertheless, your involvement in his education remains a key to his success in middle school just like it was in elementary school. Here are some ways to help you stay involved in your son’s education:

• Read the handbook that the school sent to your home. It will help you understand how things are done at your son’s new school. Pay particular attention to the sections on at- tendance, grading, contacting teachers, and all the rules and regulations. For example, if your son says he needs to stay after school for a detention, you will know the approximate reason why this could have occurred. • Keep up with what is going on at your child’s school by reading all the information that the school sends out. Be sure to sign up for e-mail newsletters. If the school has a Web site, it will be a great source of information. And possibly some of

healthy, inexpensive lunch


t’s an age old dilem- ma: how to pack a

for school that by Tiffany Doerr Gueraon

your child will enjoy. While “brown bagging it” saves money over buying hot lunch from the school cafeteria, kids aren’t always ex- cited about a homemade lunch. Try some of the ideas below to give kids healthy and interesting choices, and you’ll soon have them eating out of your hand…or rather, their lunch box.

Pack it: Start with a great lunchbox. Current styles often go on sale just after school starts. Soft- sided insulated bags are available and some online stores will even personalize the bag for you. Then, make cleaning up fun by picking up a pack of small party napkins in your kid’s favorite super hero or character theme and tuck these into their lunch box instead of plain napkins.

Freeze it: Try an ice pack alternative: freeze a juice box or water bottle and pack with perishables.

Heat it: Hot lunch can come from home if you have a good ther- mos. Preheat the thermos by filling with hot water, leaving it in at least five minutes, then emptying and filling with something warm and yummy. night’s chili. by Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts

his teachers may have pages on the Web site telling what is happening in different classes.

• Continue to be involved with the PTA. It will let you know so much about what is happening at the school and to play a role in implementing policies to improve the school. • Attend events in which your son is involved as well as those for parents. This includes such things as science fairs, sports events, choir performances, and PTA meetings. • Volunteer to help in whatever ways your schedule will al- low. This allows you to learn even more about how the school works. • Very important: Talk to your son every day to learn about his day at school. Make sure it’s a real conversation – not one that seems like an inquisition. Many families use the evening mealtime to discuss what everyone did that day. • When problems occur at school, don’t rush to resolve them unless your immediate involvement is necessary. In- stead, talk with your son asking him to devise ways that he can resolve them. This will help him learn how to handle school problems. 

Parents can send questions to: or ask them on the columnists’ Web site at

ompass Syndicate Corporation, 2009 Distributed by King Features Syndicate

Stack it: Cut lunch meat and cheese into small squares and pack with your child’s favorite crackers and they can stack their own cracker sandwiches.

Roll it: Make roll-ups by rolling several slices of lunch meat to- gether, then cut in half and secure with toothpicks. Or, roll lunch meat around cheese sticks. Either is great with a container of hon- ey-mustard or ranch dressing for dipping.

Dip it: Lots of foods can be dipped, from carrot sticks in ranch dressing to apple slices in peanut butter. Flavored yogurt makes a great dip, too.

Wrap it: Turn their favorite sandwich into a wrap. Large tortillas can be found in a variety of flavors and made into almost any kind of wrap, from PB&J to turkey and avocado. Leftover barbeque beef or teriyaki makes a great wrap as well. Large lettuce leaves can substitute for tortillas, if desired.

Cut it: For the diehard sandwich eater, try using large cookie cut- ters to cut their favorite into interesting shapes.

Buy it: Invest in small reusable containers for sandwiches, dips, pudding, gelatin, fruit cups and more. It’s cheaper to make a batch of pudding and divide it up for lunches, and this also keeps trash out of the landfill.

Write it: A handwritten note from mom or dad in their lunch box makes a kid feel special. From a simple “I love you”, to jokes or words of encouragement on test day, a note will let them know you care. 

This could be anything from canned soup to last

Tiffany Doerr Guerzon is a freelance writer and mother of three children. Her kids almost always eat their lunch.

west virginia Family Magazine FALL 2011 19 ONLINE EDITION - Click on the URL provided to visit websites listed!

Pack It Up: School Lunch Box Ideas

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