Back to school, back to basics

Students, parents, teachers gear up for a new year

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With about three weeks before heading back to school, parents and children may be heading down to Denver to check out the latest fashions to keep up with the trends that Steamboat Springs may not provide.

But for the Shenfield boys, hand-me-downs and recycled goods lessen the hottest trends in the family, while allowing self-confidence to skyrocket.

Joan Shenfield, mother of a fourth-, seventh- and eighth-grade boy, understands that trends are somewhat important to children being accepted by their peers. However, hand-me-downs are just fine for her boys.

"Let's recycle what we used last year," Shenfield will say to her children. "They have to keep up with the trends, it's something that's important. But developing their own confidence is also important it's not about what clothes they're wearing. There's a balance."

Parents now are looking outside the world's trends to help children gain self-confidence instead of gaining material goods. Palm pilots for children and a shopping spree for clothes up to $500 is not in the budget or the minds of Steamboat all parents.

Preparing children for school means getting them mentally prepared with reading, writing and arithmetic.

Just last week, Linda Melton brought out the math facts and began reviewing for what might be coming up during the school year.

"My kids are big readers, they've been reading all summer, but we just started last week with the multiplication facts," Melton said.

Melton said her 4th- and 5th-grade boys were talking at lunch Thursday with their friend about who their teachers are this year and who else is in their class.

"I think they're looking forward to it. They're kind of gearing themselves," Melton said.

For both Melton and Shenfield, Wal-Mart savings help with new school supplies and are posted in the appropriate aisles.

"We need to support our teachers, be organized and prepared so the kids can jump into learning," Shenfield said.

Melton said she gets her boys prepared with positive comments about the upcoming school year in order to relieve any built-up anxiety.

But Melton said she thinks that having the students know who their teachers are at the end of a school year helps lessen that anxiety.

"I laid awake all night wondering who my teacher was going to be. That was always the bigger issue," Melton said.

Getting the boys to read before bed in order to prepare for a new year always pushes them in the right direction, Shenfield said.

But gearing up to head back to school Aug. 27 also means adjusting sleeping schedules in the Shenfield residence.

"In the summer time, we may let them stay up to watch a movie, but it's a real shocker when we have to put them to bed earlier and they wake up earlier," Shenfield said.

Boys in the Melton residence head to bed at 9 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m. during the school year, but not too many adjustments will have to be made from summer to school.

Shenfield said teachers do their best in preparing the students for an upcoming year and the first day of school is key.

Ann Keating, health and physical education teacher, said she begins mentally preparing for the school year every Aug. 1 and when she drives into town from vacation, she'll be heading right to the school.

Keating said getting kids comfortable with the school year again is the key element to opening their eyes and minds to a new school year, especially sixth graders coming to the middle school for the first time.

"(I like to) just be out in the hallway helping them out, making sure they can all open their lockers," Keating said. "(It's nice to) help out the ones with desperate looks on their faces like they need to be somewhere but their book is stuck in their locker."

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