It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over and back to school time is right around the corner!  Though the heat continues, it’s time to start thinking about fall and everything that goes into planning for the new school year.  Whether your kids are entering kindergarten or getting ready for their final year of high school, here are a few things to keep in mind as you make plans for the school year.
Hearing Evaluation
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), hearing loss affects approximately 17 in 1,000 children under age 18. Most children have their hearing evaluated after birth or in the first few years to determine any congenital conditions.  However, hearing loss can occur throughout childhood due to trauma, illness or environmental issues.  That’s why it’s important to have a routine hearing evaluation for your child before he or she returns to school, especially if you haven’t had one for a few years.

If your child displays any signs of hearing difficulty, it’s vitally important to get an appointment with an audiologist as soon as possible.  Signs of hearing loss can include limited, poor or no speech, frequently inattentive, difficulty learning, often increases the volume on the TV, repeated ear infections, and failing to respond to conversation-level speech or answering inappropriately to spoken questions.

If caught early, many hearing problems can be addressed so that they do not impact your child’s social or educational development.
Dental Exam
Back to school time is also a good reminder to take your kids to the dentist if they haven’t been there in a while.  Dental decay is the single most prevalent childhood disease and accounts for approximately 51 million school hours lost (nationwide) each year. Even if your child has not been complaining of tooth or mouth pain, you should include a back to school exam for them to catch problems early and make sure your child’s oral health is in good shape.
Hair Cut/Style
Every kid wants to start the first day of school on the right foot.  Schedule a salon appointment for them now so they’ll have a fresh haircut and style for the new school year.  The key to getting them a great cut is to form a relationship with the stylist.  One of the best ways to do this is to take your child or children to the same place you get your hair cut.  The more interaction you have with the stylist, the more she will get to know you and your child’s personality and sense of style.  This will make it easier for her to suggest new styles/colors for both of you and will make your child more comfortable and apt to take her suggestions.
Back to School Shopping
It’s difficult not to think about back to school shopping when nearly every store begins advertising their back to school sales starting in mid-July!  In addition to the normal supplies like backpacks, notebooks, pens and calculators, kids also need a new fall wardrobe to return to school in style!

“Everyone wants fresh, clean clothes for the new school year,” says Amanda with BeYourself Boutique.  “New clothes make you feel good.”  If you have young children who are still growing, clothes are not only a ‘want’ they are a ‘need’ as last year’s school clothes probably no longer fit!  If your kids are younger, make sure you take them in to the stores with you though it may be tempting to just pick them out some outfits while you’re out and about running errands.  Even though you may know what size they wear, you usually can’t really tell how an items fits until they try it on and you don’t want to have to add returning clothes to your already packed ‘to do’ list.  Keep an eye on fashion, but also go for clothes that are durable and that have a little give to them so they won’t be grown out of so quickly.

If you kids are older, fashion and trends is probably what will take top priority when shopping this year and you definitely won’t be able to get away with shopping for your kids without them there to voice their own opinion.  “Girls’ trends for 2012 include high and low hems on dresses, saffron sheer tops, neat cut-offs and open backs.  You can also expect the new fall colors to be coming out in both tops and bottoms.  Skinny jeans, high-waisted pants and crop tops are also going to be on the radar for the school year.”

Try to discourage your kids from shopping online or going to chain stores for their clothes and instead take them to locally owned boutiques.  Not only will you be supporting your local economy, but it’s also likely that your child will be able to find more unique outfits at locally owned boutiques and won’t show up to the first day of school wearing the same shirt that five other girls are wearing.  When you develop a relationship with a locally owned boutique, you can also know that when your daughter goes in shopping by herself, the owner or manager will be looking out for her and helping her choose things that fit her own personal style.  It’s rare that you get that kind of service at a chain store!

Back to school time is always an exciting part of the year, especially if your child is making a transition such as going to kindergarten, entering high school or going into their senior year and beginning to consider colleges.  Although you as the parent may have mixed feelings about your ‘baby’ growing up, the best thing you can do is prepare them in the best way you can.  By getting them the proper medical check-ups and evaluations and making sure they have the haircut and clothes they need to shine in the classroom, you will be helping them succeed during the new year!