Do you and your teens know about a meningoccal vaccine they should be getting?

Last week the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study that will be in the September issue of “Pediatrics” that found that doctors aren’t talking to their teens and their parents or young adults about getting the serogroup B meningoccal vaccine.

That vaccine was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunication Practices in 2015 for people age 16 to 23.

Live Oak Health Partners Community Clinic LVN Donna Donica  vaccinates a student for back to school at the Live Oak clinic in San Marcos in 2017. Teens need vaccines, too.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

What researchers found was that only 51 percent of pediatricians mentioned the vaccine to patients in this age range and only 31 percent of family practice doctors mentioned it. The good news was that when doctors talked about it, 91 percent of them recommended it to their patients. Doctors were more likely to recommend it when there was a disease outbreak or incident of the disease locally.

What other vaccines do kids need? Here is the current school vaccination schedule:

Kindergarten-Sixth Grade

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: four or five doses depending on which version your kid got.

Polio: four or three doses

Measles, Mumps and Rubella: two doses

Hepatitis B: three doses

Varicella: two doses

Hepatitus A: two doses

Seventh graders

All of the above, plus

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: three doses of the primary series plus a booster within the last five years

Meningococcal: one dose

Eighth- throught 12-graders

All of the above, but if the diptheria/tetanus/pertussis shot has not been given in the last 10 years, a booster is needed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends these vaccines for the 11-year-old or 12-year-old check up:

  • HPV vaccine
    Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps protect against HPV infections that cause cancer. For kids age 9-14, it’s two doses, one six months to a year after the first. For kids 15 or older, it’s three doses, the second one to two months after the first; the third, six months after the first.
  • Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine
    Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against some of the bacteria that can cause infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). These illnesses can be very serious, even fatal. It recommends one dose at 11.
  • Tdap vaccine
    Tdap vaccine provides a booster to continue protection from childhood against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also called whooping cough).
  • Flu vaccine
    Preteens and teens should get a flu vaccine every year, by the end of October if possible. It is very important for preteens and teens with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes to get the flu shot, but the flu can be serious for even healthy kids.

RELATED: FluMist will be back this year

The CDC recommends this vaccine at the 16-year check up:

  • A second dose of meningococcal ACWY
  • meningococcal B vaccine.

 

Why isn’t glioblastoma, the cancer John McCain had, more successfully treatable?

The news that Sen. John McCain decided to discontinue treatment for glioblastoma and died on Saturday from it had us wondering about the survival rates of this cancer and the treatments.  McCain was diagnosed in July 2017 after surgeons removed a blood clot above his eye.

We asked Dr. John Kuo, the chair of the department of neurosurgery at Dell Medical School and the surgical director of the Mulva Clinic for Neurosciences, about this form of brain cancer and the advances in treatments that have been made.

It’s a very rare cancer, Kuo says, even though it’s been in the news recently because of McCain’s diagnosis and the diagnoses and deaths of Bo Biden, Vice President Joe Biden’s son, and Sen. Teddy Kennedy.

Sen. John McCain has decided not to continue treatment for glioblastoma. Alex Wong/Getty Images 2017

Cancers that originate in the brain affect only about 7 or 8 people out of 100,000. We don’t know what causes glioblastoma, though. It’s not linked to known outside factors like smoking, and it’s not genetic, Kuo says.

Unlike other cancers in the brain that originate somewhere else, glioblastoma begins in the brain in support cells called astrocytes (they look like stars). Astrocytes support and surround neurons. Glioblastoma infiltrates the brain, Kuo says.

In other cancers, you can cut out the tumor and a margin of healthy cells around it. In glioblastoma, “you can’t do that in the brain safely,” Kuo says. “The nature (of glioblastoma) is the cells left behind are likely embedded and invaded in the brain. That’s why it’s incurable.”

Typically, doctors will try to surgically remove as much as they can do safely. Sometimes, depending on where it is in the brain, they might not be able to remove much.

Then patients get radiation to the remaining cavity and the surrounding region.

Then they get a new chemotherapy in the form of a pill that was show in 2005 to make a difference in the survival rates for six to 12 months. Doing all three — surgery, radiation and chemotherapy — gave people a 5 percent survival rate in the first five years.

Now, an innovative treatment developed in Israel has extended that from 5 percent to 13 percent when added to those three, Kuo says. It’s called tumor treating fields. Doctors place grids on a shaved scalp and using electricity and magnetic fields, they disrupt cells as the cells are dividing. Using tumor treating fields now has FDA approval.

With glioblastoma, Kuo says, the younger the patient is the better treatment tends to work.

The median length of survival once diagnosed is about 15 to 18 months, Kuo says, which means that half the people will live that long, half will not.

Dr. John Kuo

While 5 or 13 percent survival rate in five years, might not sound like a lot, Kuo is seeing improvements in everything related to glioblastoma. Surgeons are able to do better surgery, more safely using microscopes, GPS mapping and fluorescence to see where the cancerous cells are. They also have better radiation techniques, new chemotherapies and innovations like tumor treating fields.

He also believes that eventually immunotherapy treatments that look at the biology of that person’s specific cancer cells will be applied to glioblastoma. “I hold a lot of promise and hope that research will help us beat this,” Kuo says.

“People think very dismally of this and pancreatic cancer,” Kuo says. “There’s a lot of research going on in this and that carries over to other cancers. We’re really hoping to make dents in this in quality and length of survival. There’s hope.”

 

 

Bring your young superheroes out to play this weekend in Austin, Aug. 24-26

We’re all adjusting to this back-to-school thing. Spend this weekend catching up on sleep, staying cool, and enjoying fun activities as a family.

Here are some of the family events we found:

FRIDAY

Back-to-School Dance, 6-9 p.m. Friday, Givens Recreation Center, 3811 E. 12th St. austintexas.gov

Toybrary

Austin. Unicorn Swimming. 10 a.m. Friday. 2001 Justin Lane. toybraryaustin.com

“Rise of the Black Panther.” Meet author Evan Narcisse. 7 p.m. Friday, Carver Branch.

Spider-Man fights off the Green Goblin in a demonstration at the Erwin Center for “Marvel Universe Live.” RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

Heroes in a Half Shell: A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Celebration. Mondo Gallery offers art of the cartoon. Noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Mondo Gallery is located at 4115 Guadalupe St. mondotees.com

FRIDAY-SUNDAY

Marvel Universe Live! Now you can see your favorite action heroes live. 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday. $25-$90. Erwin Center, 1701 Red River St. uterwincenter.com

“Beauty and the Beast” at Zach Theatre. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. $25-$150. Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org

Alamo Drafthouse Kids Club. Kids movies for a $1-$3 donation. “Kung Fu Panda.” 10:20 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Mueller. 11 a.m. Friday, 10:35 a.m. Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Slaughter Lane. “Paddington 2.” 10 a.m. Friday-Sunday, Lakeline. drafthouse.com.

SATURDAY

Zach Theatre Open House. Try out some of the classes for children age toddler to fifth-grade. 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. This week it’s at the Downtown Austin location, 1510 Toomey Road. RSVP on a link on zachtheatre.org

Thinkery. Splash Into Summer this August for Baby Bloomers, 9 a.m. Saturday. $5. Tinkering Take Home. For ages 4 and older. Make a sewn circuit. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.thinkeryaustin.org

BookPeople events. 10:30 a.m. story times. Coloring story time, Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com

Barnes & Noble. 11 a.m. Saturday story times. This week hear “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates.” barnesandnoble.com

Minecraft Club. 1 p.m. Saturday, Ruiz Branch.

Sherwood Forest Faire brings stories of Robin Hood to Scottish Rite Theater.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY

“The Legends of Robin Hood.” Directly from Sherwood Forest Faire, Robin Hood and his merry band of outlaws are bringing mischief to Austin Scottish Rite Theater. 12 and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8-$12. Austin Scottish Rite Theater. 207 W. 18th St. brownpapertickets.com/event/3527404.

SUNDAY

Hideout Kids: “Mission Kid-Possible.” Enjoy a kid-centric improve. $5 11 a.m. Sunday. Hideout Theatre, 617 Congress Ave. hideouttheatre.com

Come Dance 2018. Ballet Austin’s annual free day of dance allows you to sample a variety of the organization’s community dance classes, including ballet, Bollywood, hip hop, Brazilian, African, Irish dance and more. No RSVP is necessary — just get yourself moving. 1 to 5:45 p.m. Sunday. Butler Center for Dance & Fitness, 501 W. Third St. balletaustin.org.

Austin Symphony Hartman Concerts in the Park. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Free. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

BackYard at Waller Creek Sunday Funday. Games, face-painting, bounce house and more. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Free for kids younger than 12, $5 adults. 701 E. 11th St. backyardbaraustin.com

Save these dates: Trail of Lights will return

I know we just sent kids off to school, but Tuesday, The Trail of Lights announced the dates for the 54th running of the Christmas lights spectacular.

The official grand opening will be Monday, Dec. 10 and will be free that day.

The famous Trail of Lights tunnel of lights will shine again in December. American-Statesman

The lights will continue 7-10 p.m. Dec. 11-23 in Zilker Park. Children younger than 12 are always free. Seven out of the other 14 nights also will be free. The Trail will offer fast passes, and parking and shuttle passes for an extra fee and available in advance. Ticket availability will be released in October at austintrailoflights.org.

What will be new this year?

  • A 13-foot lighted carriage
  • 12 7-foot lighted guitars
  • A 25-foot spiral holiday tree

The Trail expects to feature 2 million lights, more than 65 displays, 30 food trucks and three stages. It also will host interactive experiences and  50 private holiday parties.

The Trail of Lights season begins on Nov. 25 with the lighting of the Zilker Holiday Tree. 

The Austin Trail of Lights Fun Run is planned for Dec. 1. It’s a way to see the lights before the trail officially opens. It’s a 2.1-mile run.

The fundraising preview night will be Dec. 8 and will include activities such as food tastings not available during the rest of the Trail’s nights.

Once again, the Trail of Lights Foundation Board is hosting STARS at the Trail, private viewing of the trail by local nonprofit organizations’ clients Dec. 2, 3 and 4, as well as during the public nights. Organizations can apply by Sept. 18 to be considered at austintrailoflights.org/stars-application.

Heroes Night on Dec. 11 will honor first responders and current military and veterans and their family.

The Trail is also looking for entertainment for its stages. You can apply at www.austintrailoflights.org/performer-application by Sept. 28.

 

CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card gives us some hope for healthier babies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card. How is the U.S. and Texas doing when it comes to reaching the Healthy People 2020 goals that were established in 2010 by this committee that has representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Education.

In many areas, we’re meeting those goals. 83.2 percent of infants in the U.S. have been breastfed at least once. (the goal was 81.9 percent). We’ve also more than met the proportion of infants who are breastfed at a year (35.9 percent are); and the percentage at three months (46.9 percent are). The six-month mark we didn’t quite hit the mark in infants who are breast fed (57.6 percent vs. the goal of 60.6 percent) or those that are exclusively breastfed at that time (24.9 percent vs. the goal of 25.5 percent). We also didn’t do as well as hoped in the percentage of infants given formula before 2 days old (17.2 percent instead of 14.2 percent).

That six-month mark is important because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants are exclusively breastfed the first six months and then it becomes a part of the diet as food is introduced. 

How did Texas do when it came to these numbers?

  • 85.0 percent of infants were ever breastfed
  • 56.6 percent were breastfeeding at 6 months
  • 35.2 percent were breastfeeding at 12 months
  • 48.0 percent were exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months
  • 24.1 percent were exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months
  • 18.3 percent of infants were given formula before 2 days of age

RELATED: What can pediatricians do to encourage breastfeeding?

What can you do to encourage a new mom to breastfeed?

  • Make sure she checks out what kind of support she’ll receive at her hospital when it comes to lactation consulting. Hint: It’s usually 3 a.m. when you need a consultant. Babies feed just great from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • She can also ask the hospital what percentage of their infants are given formula vs. babies that are exclusively breastfed while there.
  • Feed her. Bring her healthy meals and plenty of water.
  • Offer to take care of her other child, help around the house or hold the baby while she takes a nap.
  • If she’s a work colleague, link her to another mom who has been pumping at work, who can help her make the transition back to work easier.
  • Link her to your local La Leche League. 
  • Connect her to Mothers’ Milk Bank to become a milk donor. 
  • Realize that sometimes there are reasons why breastfeeding wasn’t the right choice for that mom and baby and do not pass judgement.

RELATED: Doctor wants you to stop feeling guilty about no breastfeeding.

RELATED: Does breastfeeding reduce your risk of breast cancer?

RELATED: Does breastfeeding reduce your risk of endometrial cancer?

Do your kids need a prescription to play?

In an updated study about children and play from the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors are urging parents to have their children, especially young children, play more because of the lessons that play teaches them.

“We’re recommending that doctors write a prescription for play, because it’s so important,” said pediatrician Michael Yogman, the lead author of the report in a press release. “Play with parents and peers is fundamentally important for developing a suite of 21st century skills, including social, emotional, language and cognitive skills, all needed by the next generation in an economically competitive world that requires collaboration and innovation. The benefits of play cannot really be overstated in terms of mitigating stress, improving academic skills and helping to build the safe, stable and nurturing relationships that buffer against toxic stress and build social-emotional resilience.”

Kyle Scarbrough makes the sound of a firefighter using a firehose as he and his son Alden, 3, and Maggie McCreery, 7, play on the fire truck in the Zilker Playground. AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2017

What the study and others like it note is that children are playing less.

Here are some stats this study offers:

  • Children’s playtime has decreased by 25 percent from 1981 to 1997, and we bet that if someone did a current study, it would be even less.
  • About 30 percent of kindergarten children don’t have recess and instead have more academic lessons, says research from Advances in Life Course Research.
  • In a study of 8,950 preschool children and parents, only 51 percent of those children went outside to walk or play once a day with a parent.

RELATED: Kids stop playing by age 9

Part of what has happened is that academics have replaced play at a very young age, and parents don’t know how to play with their children or they are fearful about safety concerns to let their children play.

RELATED: How to play safely

What does play do for kids?

It enhances brain structure and function and promotes that executive function, the study says

When kids play, stress is reduced and kids learn to regulate their stress. One of the things the study found was that preschool children who were anxious about going to school were twice as relieved of their stress when they were able to play with their teacher of fellow students for 15 minutes instead of listening to a story. Kids with disruptive behaviors were also less stressed and disruptive when a teacher played with them one-on-one.

Children who played as preschoolers had a better advantage when it came to paying attention and behaving appropriately in the classroom.

RELATED: Reading, playing with your children could reduce hyperactivity

Preschoolers who were given lessons in early math skills didn’t do any better in math in elementary school.

Play helps kids do what’s called scaffolding: building one skill on top of another skill.

Early learning happens socially. Think about the baby who picks up cues from the mom to smile because the mom smiles.

RELATED: Kids want to play more, but they think video games count

Of course, the study also looked at play in rats and changes in the brain structure of the rats who played and the rats who weren’t allowed to play. “Rats that were raised in experimental toy-filled cages had bigger brains and thicker cerebral cortices and completed mazes more quickly.”

And in kids, the study notes that “Children who were in active play for 1 hour per day were better able to think creatively and multitask.”

Play also helps our children be physically active, be socially aware, learn self-regulation skills, language development, imagination and more.

RELATED: Where are the best playgrounds in Central Texas?

So, parents, get out there and play with your children. Yes, you can put the phone down and they can put down that tablet or gaming device. Also, make sure that your child’s school still has elements of play such as outdoor time or recess.

Zach Theatre is starting a new class for parents and young children to play together called Wee Play. It will be showcased at the open house on Saturday at it’s 1510 Toomey Road location and on Sept. 1 at its 12129 RM 620 N. location.

RSVP FOR THE EVENT HERE https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeph6Az5LLi_Uv5nugwYNEVICfNz1CMZuKYgNACvcat64iHYw/viewform

The open houses are 10 a.m. to noon. Here is the schedule for the day:

10:00 A.M. – Sign Ups for Sample Classes Main Campus begin/All Stations open

10:05 A.M. – Back to School Confidence-Building Activities

  • Want to get your student ready for new situations?  Come try some activities that over time will help your student’s confidence, resilience, and flexibility in a new place.

10:20 – 10:40 AM – 1st Set of Sample Classes

  • 1 yr – Wee Play
  • 3.5 – 5 – Story Drama
  • K – 1st – Broadway Kids
  • 2nd – 3rd – Create a Play
  • 4th – 5th – Improvisation

10:45 A.M. – Confidence-Building Back to School Activities

  • Want to get your student ready for new situations?  Come try some activities that over time will help your student’s confidence, resilience, and flexibility in a new place!

11:00 – 11:20 AM – 2nd Set of Sample Classes

  • 2 yr – Wee Play
  • 3 – 5 – Broadway Babies
  • K – 1st – Act the Story
  • 2nd – 3rd – Musical Theatre
  • 4th – 5th – Acting and Scene Study

11:25 A.M. – Back to School Activities

  • Want to get your student ready for new situations?  Come try some activities that over time will help your student’s confidence, resilience, and flexibility in a new place!

11:40 AM – 12:00 PM – 3rd Set of Sample Classes

  • 1 yr – Wee Play
  • 3 – 5 – Story Drama
  • K – 1st – Broadway Kids
  • 2nd – 3rd – Intro to Acting
  • 4th – 5th – Musical Theatre

Slow down, drivers. Kids are back in school

This morning, while the school bus was approaching to whisk my son off to his final year of high school, I watched as car after car tried to pass the slowing-down-with-its-lights-on school bus. Trying to game the system and get around my kid’s bus, makes you a jerk.

You’ll start to see kids like Travis Bradley and Julian Gonzalez running for the bus. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

All over Central Texas as kids go back to school, we have kids and parents who aren’t sure where they are going, who aren’t sure what the traffic pattern at school is yet, or are waiting for buses that are running late.

Let’s all practice our patience and be safe.

If you haven’t watched this 2016 video from Austin Independent School District of two students getting hit by cars after getting off the school bus, watch it. Also read Melissa Taboada and Katie Hall’s story about the 900 cars AISD caught that didn’t stop for school buses in the first week of school that year. 

Those big yellow school buses are a reminder that school is back in session and there are lots of kids and parents walking around, and not just in and around a school bus. Watch out for kids walking or riding bikes to school and from. Watch out for their parents walking to bus stops before or after the bus gets there.

RELATED: How to take a good first day of school photo 

Slow down. Stop. And Think.

If you did hit a kid or a parent and he or she was seriously injured or died, how would you live with yourself?

Kristen Hullum, MSN, RN, the trauma injury prevention coordinator at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, offers the following tips on how to keep your children safe between home and school.

Street Safety

Kids who walk, bike or take the bus to school must be familiar with street safety rules. Remind them to use crosswalks whenever available; always wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter or skateboard; and never assume that a car can see them. Help them understand how to take extra precautions when watching for vehicles and crossing streets safely. Use the sidewalk when available, and walk facing the flow of traffic.

Children should wear reflective strips on their backpacks, shoes or jackets if walking or riding to school in the dark.

Remind children to keep their “head up, phone down.” Many students can be seen walking to school while texting. It is easy for them to become distracted—and lose awareness of their surroundings and moving vehicles—while using their phone.

Lap and shoulder belts have been available on Texas school buses for many years. Insist your child always wears their seat belt on the school bus and sets an example for other children. Remind them to stay in their seat until the bus comes to a complete stop, to keep their arms and head inside the windows at all times, and never to assume that cars will stop for the bus or children crossing the street — they still must watch carefully for vehicles.

Playground Safety

More than 20,000 kids visit the emergency room every year with injuries sustained on the playground. The majority of these injuries are related to falls. Remind children to be aware of moving swings, broken equipment, platforms from which they could fall and activities that may not be appropriate for younger kids.

Children should always be closely supervised when playing on the playground, and injuries (even minor ones) should be reported to teachers and parents so they can be monitored.

Ask children to report safety hazards to an adult to prevent other children from getting hurt.

 

Sports Safety

Be sure your child wears the proper sports safety equipment for whichever sport they play.

Monitor your children for subtle signs of an injury—limping, grimacing, holding or rubbing a certain area. If your child ever hits his or her head, with or without a helmet, monitor the child carefully for signs of a concussion, and see a physician immediately if symptoms occur. Signs include confusion and forgetfulness, changes in mood or behavior, loss of consciousness, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, blurry vision and complaints of “just not feeling right.” If you suspect a concussion, see a physician and have your child refrain from further physical activity. When in doubt, sit it out.

Keep kids well hydrated. Ensure they are drinking plenty of water or electrolyte replacement fluids before, during and after sports activities. Monitor for signs of heat exhaustion—confusion, lack of sweating (a sign they have already lost all fluids through the skin), nausea, headache, pale skin, rapid heartbeat and muscle cramping. Kids experiencing any of these symptoms need to be moved to a cooler place, drink lots of fluids, use a damp washcloth to cool their body and seek medical attention if symptoms do not resolve quickly.

Did you take first day of school photos?

We want to see your first day of school pictures! If you do remember to take a photo, send it to readerphotos@statesman.com or tag us @statesman on Twitter or Instagram.

Is it better to start school on a Monday or in the middle of the week? Weigh in

Is it better to start school midweek or on a Monday? That is the question I’m currently pondering.

RELATED: Do you know when school starts?

This week, on Wednesday, a bunch of schools started back including Lake Travis, Bastrop, Liberty Hill, Wimberley and Lago Vista. The next wave came on Thursday with Round Rock, Leander, Pflugerville and Georgetown joining them.

Parents and children stand in line at Deep Wood Elementary School on the first day of school to take photos. Round Rock ISD started classes on Thursday.  Henry Huey for Round Rock Leader.

On Monday, Austin ISD, Manor and Burnet return to class. Followed by Dripping Springs, Hutto and Smithville on Tuesday, and Eanes, Elgin and Marble Falls next Wednesday.

Bringing up the rear on Aug. 27, is Hays Consolidated, San Marcos Consolidated and Del Valle.

So, is it better to start mid-week or on a Monday?

That’s like asking: do you rip off the bandage in one jerky move or do you peel it away millimeter by millimeter?

A long time ago… like when my now senior in high school was in kindergarten … Austin ISD did start on a Thursday. At the time I thought, “That’s just crazy!” Why a Thursday?

Now I get it. There are pluses and minuses.

Pro mid-week:

You get a gradual ease in. For those anxious kids, it’s just a few days and then a weekend break. Whew!

RELATED: How to help a shy child get ready for school

You have two days to pick up school supplies before the next class, rather than one night. If you have a middle-schooler or high-schooler, you know what I’m talking about. The first time your kid goes to a class, they get a list of supplies they need. If you have a kid on an A-day/B-day schedule, it takes two days to see all of their teachers. If you start on a Monday, your kid doesn’t get their complete list until Tuesday.

Next Tuesday night, I and all the other frustrated parents of Austin ISD kids will be in the Walmart or Target scrounging for supplies that are no longer there.

RELATED: Dear Walmart and Target, kids still need school supplies

One year, I tried to out-guess the teachers and pre-buy supplies. I ended up with a bunch of stuff that neither one of my kids needed. Now I buy basics: notebook paper, pencils, composition books, pens. That’s it and wait until we get the list.

That means I’m with all of you desperate and irritated parents at the big box store. One year, my kid needed a certain kind of dry erase marker that I checked five different stores to find and finally located it in the CVS of all places. And then my kid transferred out of that class two weeks later. The time spent, the pressure around finding items, is crazy-making.

RELATED: Where’s the most popular places to buy school supplies?

Teachers get a weekend between the first few days of school and the first full week to get their classrooms back in order. (And yes, we know you’re not supposed to be working on the weekend, but we also realize that you do.)

Pro-Monday start date:

Teachers get a weekend between Meet the Teacher and the first day of school. They have time to touch base with parents who had questions at Meet the Teacher. They can put away all the supplies the kids brought to Meet the Teacher. They can follow up with the parents who weren’t able to make it.

Parents don’t have to find a half-week camp for their kids or take off a couple of days because they can’t find a camp for those two or three days.

High-schooler and middle-schoolers really get a sense of their whole schedule that first week. There’s no delay in figuring out if the course load is too crazy.

The transition could be easier if you have a kid who likes routine. Bedtime and wake-up time routines get established quickly. It feels like school has begun.

What do you think? Are you Pro Midweek Start or Pro Monday Start? Share your thoughts in the comments.

RELATED: How to take a good first day of school photo

RELATED: What to do the night before school starts

 

Keep kids hydrated, safe from heat stroke at recess, band and football practice

Every afternoon around Central Texas, the band kids are marking their halftime performances on the parking lot pavement. The football players are practicing downs on the field. The cross country runners are setting new paces on trails and sidewalks. And the elementary-schoolers are on the playground for recess.

And it’s 100+ degrees.

Members of the Bowie Bulldogs including senior nose guard/tackle Cooper Laake, prepare for this season at a practice. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

We asked Dr. Lisa Gaw, a pediatrician with Texas Children’s Urgent Care, to give us some tips on keeping kids cool, hydrated and not experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

How much and how often should you drink water?

If you’re out in the sun, she recommends that at least every 15 to 20 minutes you take a break and drink water. If you feel thirsty, you need to drink water. That’s a sign that your body is in the earliest stages of being too hot.

Rather than give you a ratio of how many ounces of water per hour, Dr. Gaw likes to tell parents and kids that your urine should be closer to a light lemonade-colored yellow rather than a yellow that looks more like apple juice.

If you no longer feel the need to go to the bathroom, that’s a warning sign.

Should it always be water?

Water is great, but if a kid is very active, think about a sports drink like Powerade or Gatorade to replace the electrolytes and salt rather than just water. What you don’t need is an energy drink like a Red Bull or a Monster drink. You don’t need the caffeine. The same is true for soda.

Charles Vancil wears a hat to stay cool from the heat as the Connally High School Band takes precautions against heat while practicing outside. Photo by Ariana Garcia

What are the warning signs of becoming overheated, having heat exhaustion or heat stroke?

The first warning sign is that you are thirsty. You might also have muscle cramps.

For heat exhaustion, you might feel hot, dizzy, light-headed, nauseated or weak.

With heat stroke, you’ll feel all of those things, but you’ll also feel confused, possibly become unresponsive. Your body won’t be able to regulate its temperature, and your body temperature could climb to 104 to 106 degrees. You’ll stop sweating because you cannot regulate your temperature.

What should you do if you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms?

If someone becomes unresponsive or is very confused, call 911.

For less-severe symptoms, go to a cool, shaded area, hopefully with some air circulation. The person should start sipping water. Add cool towels or cool compresses around their neck, in their groin area or under their armpits to cool down their core temperature.

Want to have a great school year? Follow these teachers’ advice

Some kids around Central Texas started school this week. Others start next week or the week after.

We’ve already shared what advice teachers have for parents at the start of the school year, but what about the rest of the year?

Mirielle Badgley-Finan and Avery Knox are excited about school starting. Now let’s keep that excitement all year long. LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Here’s what they suggest:

Avoid being overscheduled. Before signing up for many after-school activities, see what you can handle with school. Try to avoid late evening extracurriculars. Sleep is important.

RELATED: How to help shy, introverted kids go back to school

Have a backpack and binder cleaning out party regularly. Consider doing it whenever we have a school holiday or at the start of a new grading period.

Establish positive communication with teachers, parents. Read the regular emails and notes your child’s teachers sends. Ask questions but not in an accusatory way.

RELATED: Parents want to hear more from teachers, teachers want to hear more from parents

Look for ways you can help teachers. Does that teacher need help copying papers or cutting things for an upcoming project? Ask how you can help, even if you can’t be at school during daytime hours.

Attend as many school activities as possible. If you can, chaperone a field trip. Come to games and performances. Be that embarrassing fan in the stand cheering for your kid, just don’t undermine the coach or director.

RELATED: What does your school nurse want to know?

Give teachers praise. Like something that the teacher did for your child or the rest of the class? Parents and students always can drop teachers a handwritten note or an email. ‘Thank you” goes a long way. Think about nominating a particularly great teacher for an award.

Get to know the staff at your school. The principal and vice-principals, the secretaries, the counselors all can be good allies to have.

RELATED: What to ask on Meet the Teacher night?

RELATED: How to take a great first day of school photo?

Sources: Inez Flores, Mills Elementary; Erica Green, Kiker Elementary; Juli Naranjo, Cowan Elementary; Beth Ann Cole, Boone Elementary; Lori Pearce, Fulmore Middle School; Nancy Stewart, Cedar Park Middle School; Katherine Ratcliffe, Kealing Middle School; Jo Patrick, Fulmore Middle School.

RELATED: Sending a kid off to college? Follow these tips