1. Back to School!

Back to School!

It’s that time of year again! Whether you're a parent or educator, below are resources and tips that can help you prepare for the new school year.

Subsidized Health Care for Children
Health insurance is important to ensure regular check-ups and preventive care such as immunizations and dental care, as well as emergency treatment, for children.

Medicaid and CHIP: You can find no-cost or low-cost health care for your children through the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Although each state manages its own program, it is generally open to families of four that make up to $44,100 per year.

These programs offer many benefits, including:

  • Doctor visits
  • Prescription drugs
  • Emergency care
  • Hospital Care
  • Dental services
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Vaccinations

You can get more information about the health coverage options in your state by calling 1 (877) Kids Now (1 (877) 543-7669) or visiting “Programs in Your State” on

Community Health Centers: provide primary medical and dental care to people of all ages, whether or not you have health insurance. Services include immunizations, checkups, dental care, prescription drugs, and mental health services. You pay what you can afford, based on your income. Visit to find a Health Center near you.

Affordable Care Act and Children: Also, keep in mind that students going to college can remain on their parent’s health insurance policy until the age of 26 because of new provisions in the Affordable Health Act.

Check-Ups and Immunizations
It's a good idea to take your child in for a physical and eye exam before school starts. If your child will be participating in a sports activity, your family doctor may have to sign a release form to permit your child to participate.

Most schools require your child's immunization shots are up-to-date. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has complied information and resources to help individuals know what is needed for their children and to help them prepare for their doctor visit.

Remember that each state has different immunization requirements. Let your healthcare provider know if you have any questions or concerns about the vaccines your child is scheduled to receive.

School entry may require documentation of immunization records, so be sure to contact your school ahead of time to find out what might be required, and be sure to bring any school forms for your healthcare provider to fill out and sign. Failure to keep immunizations up-to-date could result in your child not being able to attend school. It's also helpful to keep a copy of the records for yourself and your child's school.

Homework Help
Homework can provide many benefits for children. It can improve memory and comprehension, develop study skills, and teach children how to manage time. You can help by making sure your kids have a quiet, well-lit place to do homework and provide assistance, but not complete answers. Learn how to help your kids with homework and succeed in school (each of these resources are also available in Spanish).

General Homework Tips for Parents:

  • Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework.
    Avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions, such as people coming and going.
  • Make sure the materials your child needs, such as paper, pencils and a dictionary, are available.
    Ask your child if special materials will be needed for some projects and get them in advance.
  • Help your child with time management.
    Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Don't let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates.
  • Be positive about homework.
    Tell your child how important school is. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires.
  • When your child does homework, you do homework.
    Show your child that the skills they are learning are related to things you do as an adult. If your child is reading, you read too. If your child is doing math, balance your checkbook.
  • When your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers.
    Giving answers means your child will not learn the material. Too much help teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for him or her.
  • When the teacher asks that you play a role in homework, do it.
    Cooperate with the teacher. It shows your child that the school and home are a team. Follow the directions given by the teacher.
  • If homework is meant to be done by your child alone, stay away.
    Too much parent involvement can prevent homework from having some positive effects. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independent, lifelong learning skills.
  • Stay informed.
    Talk with your child's teacher. Make sure you know the purpose of homework and what your child's class rules are.
  • Help your child figure out what is hard homework and what is easy homework.
    Have your child do the hard work first. This will mean he will be most alert when facing the biggest challenges. Easy material will seem to go fast when fatigue begins to set in.
  • Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration.
    Let your child take a short break if she is having trouble keeping her mind on an assignment.
  • Reward progress in homework.
    If your child has been successful in homework completion and is working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g., pizza, a walk, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effort.

Shopping for School Supplies
During the month of August, some states offer a "sales tax holiday," which means that certain products won't be taxed during a set period of time. This is a great opportunity to save money on back-to-school items including clothes, shoes, and supplies. Check to see if your state participates in sales tax holidays.

Plan Healthful Lunches
As you prepare to send your children back to school, remember that nutrition is an important factor in academic performance. Studies have shown that children who eat healthful, balanced breakfasts and lunches are more alert throughout the school day and earn higher grades than those who have an unhealthy diet. Get tips on packing a healthful lunch.

National School Lunch Program: The National School Lunch Program provides free, low cost, and nutritional lunches to eligible students. Enrollment is open year-round, so this program is especially useful if your family has had a sudden loss of income. Some key facts about the program include:

  • It’s open for children up to 18 years of age
  • It’s offered at daycare centers, public schools and private nonprofit schools enrolled in the program. Learn more facts about eligibility at alternative educational programs.
  • School lunches meet federal nutritional requirements, which means they limit fats and saturated fats and provide one third of the recommended dietary allowances of proteins necessary for a healthy diet
  • Schools usually send application notices at the beginning of the school year. However, you can enroll at any time by filling out a form and submitting it to the school

Find out if your family qualifies for the National School Lunch Program or subsidized health care.

For more information and resources on how to prepare for school:

U.S. Department of Education has a variety of resources, including: