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Most recent posting below. See other articles in the column to the right.

Tips to Prep Your Kids for the School Year

(ARA) - Summer vacation will end soon, which means the school bell will soon ring. Your kids probably have mixed feelings about going back to school - excitement to see friends and participate in fun school activities again, and dread that the lazy hours of summer are almost over.

Whether they're ready for it or not, getting kids prepared for the school year doesn't have to be a lot of work. Here are some tips to help find the best deals on supplies and prepare them for the first day back:

* Tackle the school supply list early. Review everything you already have on hand, and then create a list of the materials your children need for the entire year. Take advantage of back-to-school sales and coupons, and don't be afraid to shop online. A site like consolidates thousands of online coupons and discounts in one easy-to-use place. You can find coupon codes for everything from kids clothing to the pencils and folders they'll need for classes.

* Exercise their brains. Studies have shown brain drain frequently happens during the summer months, causing kids to have to relearn material when they return to school in the fall. If you haven't encouraged your children to keep their brains active with reading, mind puzzles and other fun mental exercises this summer, start now to help them get a jumpstart before classes begin.

* Plan social activities. It's been a long summer, and your children have plenty of stories to share with their friends. Help ease kids into the school year in by organizing social activities with your children's fellow classmates. Make sure you take them to meet the teacher before the first day of class.

* Set a school day schedule. Start waking the family up earlier in the mornings - especially if you have older children who like to sleep in. Establishing a school day schedule before the year starts will help everyone manage the first day rush and chaos with less stress and anxiety.

Before you know it, you'll be packing lunch boxes and backpacks and kissing your children goodbye as they board the bus or enter the school building. But you'll know that you've done everything you can to prepare them well for the first day back at school.

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