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Beyond Pencil and Paper: Supplying NC Kids for School

August 3, 2011

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Colorful backpacks and shiny new pencils will be flying off the store shelves this weekend as North Carolina goes tax-free from Friday to Sunday for school supplies, clothing and footwear, as well as some recreational equipment and computers. According to one teacher, however, the most necessary preparation for going back to school doesn't cost a thing.

Elizabeth Foster, president of the Guilford County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators, says reviewing skills with children will better prepare them for being back in the classroom.

"What happens at home before school starts needs to be as fun as possible and engaging as possible. That's just as important as supplying them with pens and pencils and notebooks. "

Several educational studies show that parental involvement leads to improved classroom performance.

Karin Kent says she works with her two children year-round, reviewing reading and math skills. They're ready to go when they start school, she says, adding that she sees what can happen when parents don't take the time.

"I think kids whose parents don't always spend a lot of time with them in the summer need that first week or two with a little bit of reviewing, just to get their feet back underneath them. "

The National Retail Federation says the average shopper with children in kindergarten through 12th grade will spend about $600 this fall in preparation for the school year - about $2 less than last year.

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NC