Back to school basics from six leading ladies


SUNGLASSES, CHECK! Bug spray, check! Pencil sharpener … come again?

As summer comes to a close, parents are faced with the daunting task of getting their kids ready for school again.

“It looms over your head constantly,” says actress Cynthia Dale, who is currently balancing her role as mom and as lead actress in Love, Loss and What I Wore at Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre.

“Nowadays finding school items that are environmentally friendly is important — like water bottles and sandwich containers. There are some great health food stores out there that sell eco-friendly lunch box containers, and you can search for products online, too.”

One such online find is w w w. c r e d i b l e –, a Canadian company that has designed a wide variety of colourful and sustainable containers for meals on the go.

A really great resource is Grassroots Environmental, with locations both in the Annex and in Riverdale, also offers such green school supplies as a staple-free staplers and ecofriendly stationery.

And while back-to-school shopping is obvious for August, former MuchMusic host turned PR consultant Teresa Roncon swears she never has to leave home for school supplies.

“You don’t have to spend money; you’ll find dozens of pencils and markers and crayons in their room,” she says.

“In August I clean and go through everything, test out all their markers, sharpen their pencils, everything that’s not working I throw out. You need to start with a clean slate.”

To carry all the treasures, Teresa recommends a once-in-a-fewyears stop at Roots for a backpack that will last, and last.

“I bought my daughter one a while ago and I just washed it and let it dry. It looks brand new.” ET Canada host Rosey Edeh says that top of list for her is to remember to sign up her daughter for her extracurriculars.

“Everyone clambers for the coveted spot,” says Edeh, referring specifically to daughter Micha’s piano lessons “If you put it off, you wind up getting the 9 a.m. on Saturday. But get in there early and talk to the teacher during the summer, and you’ll get the spot you’re aiming for.”

And with the kids occupying most lobes of the brain this August, Edeh advises parents to take a moment and think of their own fall itinerary when scheduling in the kids’ hobbies.

“Think about yourself, too, make the schedule convenient for your own needs.You’ll be less stressed in the fall. Get that done early.”

One woman with momhood on the mind is former VJ extraordinaire Erica Ehm, who celebrates moms with her popular site

With one child in private school and the other in public, Ehm is quick to advise from both sides of the spectrum.

“For private, buy your uniforms a little big in hopes that they’ll get through the year in them,”she says. “Then get ready for an awesome year where small classes ensure the teachers treat the child as an individual.

“For public, I was shocked that the public system provides all school supplies for all the children. No pre-school-shopping rush necessary. Buy a minimum of two pairs of shoes — one indoor and one outdoor.”

Sultry songstress and mother of two Molly Johnson agrees. “Shoes, shoes, shoes are always an issue. Kids grow so much over the summer.” she insists. “Haircuts are a must by the end of August. The boys are always looking a little shaggy.”

But with all this talk of appearances, how does the parent best acclimatize a summersoftened child to academia.

“We often do drive-bys and see the school,” says Ehm. “Sometimes we go and play in the schoolyard to get them comfortable on the property.”

“We start reading and doing some math a few weeks before — but not too much because I don’t want to turn them off the idea of work, which will be all consuming all too soon.”

Alyson Schafer, host of call-intelevision program The Parenting Show, (reached at the cottage on her birthday) is always glad to give advice.

She talks over the dog barking and the happy chatter of her 15- and 16-year-old daughters.

“They’re bragging about getting 12 hours of sleep in four days right now. But on Labour Day weekend we focus on getting their body back on the clock, getting up in the morning, aiming toward shifting.”

“They’re zonked and tired, and they want to organize, and they would die if I booked going somewhere then. They need that long weekend just to be home and be calm and quiet.”

Until that time comes, though, Schafer imparts some words of wisdom to parents who are feeling burdened on the beach.

“You have to know to manage expectations. I know that from September to Christmas that it takes that long to settle in,” she explains.

“A lot of stress happens once school begins, forms, shots, etc. Managing your expectations, knowing the onslaught is coming will help.”

The cool-as-a-cucumber Molly Johnson says that the back-toschool blues rarely seep into her system. She prescribes a positive attitude to help ease back into the scholastic world.

“I am looking forward to seeing teachers and getting back into the community.”

With that mindset, parents shouldn’t be too quick to stash away the lounge chair.

“Support your teacher and the curriculum,” says Johnson. “Get to know the parents of the kids in your class, and it will be the holidays before you know it.”


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