For weeks, Deandra Houchin has been working to get her daughter ready to go back to school.

Lacey, who will be a first-grader at Greenwood Christian School, has been doing worksheets and participated in the summer reading program at the local library. Bedtime already has been moved to her school-year time.

Houchin said she wants to make sure that her daughter is prepared academically and physically when school starts in a couple of weeks.

“It’s just to keep her prepared, even with the shorter summer, (she) would forget and have a rougher transition,” Houchin said.

One county school starts Wednesday. Several start next week, and the rest begin not long after that.

With the first day of school approaching, many parents have started preparing their children for that shift from vacation mindset to school mode. Other parents have struggled with how to get their kids ready for school with a shorter summer break that is packed with activities.

The first thing parents should do is get their youngsters back into a school routine and building habits they will use throughout the school year, said Greg Moore, owner of the Sylvan Learning Center in Franklin.

Students can lose what they learn if they aren’t stimulated a little bit academically, Moore said.

“I tell adults: ‘You go on a two-week vacation, and we forget our passwords,’” he said.

The same can be true of students.

Parents also should do activities that make kids think critically for an extended period of time, Moore said.

Reading is a good place to start for students who didn’t spend the summer in a reading program, he said.

Making students do other activities, such as going to the grocery store and counting up the price of the items as they go is a good activity to get students back in school mode, Moore said. That activity also can be done year round, he added.

Often teachers can tell when a student has not been engaged in learning for most of the summer, Moore said.

“Mainly it is to help teachers, so they don’t have a third of students dozing off,” he said.

With most local schools on calendars that shorten the summer break, some parents find it difficult to make time to work with their children academically and allow them to enjoy a summer break.

For example, county fair week fell the week before some school districts were due to start class, making moving bed times up and working with them on reading and worksheets nearly impossible, some parents said.

Shara Marlin of Greenwood moves the bedtime of her three school-age children up to 8:30 p.m. weeknights before school starts.

But her youngsters were involved in the fair and would have less than a week to start getting into a school mindset while still catching up with friends at the fair and doing sports and other extracurricular activities.

“It’s still light out,” she said. “No one wants to go to bed.”

The key is to keep the students on a schedule similar to the one used during the school year, Franklin mom Gwen Owens said.

Owens’ three daughters are home-schooled. Throughout the summer, they kept the same schedule as if they were in school, she said.

“They pretty much do stuff throughout the year,” she said. “We like to keep them in the same mindset.”

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.