* Coronavirus Resources for Parents *

Letter from the Editor September 2011

Jenna Hammond

In late July, MarketingCharts reported that “The average U.S. family of four plans to spend $800 on back-to-school purchases this year, but two-thirds of U.S. parents (67 percent) say they will need to make trade-offs to afford these expenses, according to the July 2011 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.” What’s the breakdown of the biggest costs? “Clothing ($290), shoes ($110), and school supplies ($100) top back to school shopping lists.”

And though the random survey of 811 parents revealed that families plan to curb other expenses, such as dinners out, 61 percent of respondents say they intend to buy their kids name brand and designer duds for school, especially jeans, sneakers and shoes. What’s a cost-conscious parent to do when it comes to outfitting their brood? Believe it or not, skimping on clothes and sticking to classroom supplies isn’t your only option. Dress your kids in the finest frocks and still have money in your pocket for backpacks and school necessities, and maybe even dinners on the town, by reading “Ready, Set, Resale” by July Ann Barber. The article highlights the benefits of shopping in secondhand stores, which stock clothing and shoes in superb and never shoddy condition. As Barber emphasizes, many of the items in resale stores bear popular and high-end brand names, allowing your kids (and you) to sport the latest looks and lusted-after labels while paying about 50 to 75 percent less than retail prices.

Discover other perks of shopping in resale and thrift stores, like supporting local businesses and being green while you save green. And be mindful of the sidebar’s tips for making the most of secondhand shopping exploits.

Then once you’ve got your budget protected, you can keep your family’s wellness in check by reading “Don’t Let the Flu Start with You.” Next to spending, worrying about kids getting sick tends to give parents the most back-to-school stress. Fortunately, writer Carol J. Baker, M.D., has your clan covered for remaining healthy during flu season, which, as the pediatrics professor notes, begins with the start of school. Referencing that “Schools are particular hot spots for the spread of influenza because children spread the disease before they show symptoms and can continue to spread the virus for at least a week after symptoms have subsided,” Baker tackles the essentials about the flu virus and germs. Learn where to vaccinate your family against the flu near your home and what vaccinations kids should get throughout their childhood for all types of viruses.

Maintaining the focus on health in a fun way, flip to “Program Pointers” by Jamie Sirkin, LCSW. The second pointer in the article deals with finding programs that nurture a healthy and fit lifestyle in children, such as sports and yoga programs along with activities that serve nutritious fare and encourage wellness. What other types of programs exist for kids? Sirkin addresses everything from quality childcare and educational enrichment to social skill development, community involvement and future success in the enlightening article. It’s the ideal read before turning the page to browse our Education Directory. The trusted resource spotlights programs and activities in your neighborhood as well as area daycare facilities and schools, whether you’re looking to enroll your children this year or next.

Of course, make the most of this school year by enjoying the entire issue and exploring the fresh look and content on www.parentguidenews.com.

Jenna Hammond