School District


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Getaways on a Budget

Getting away from the everyday hustle and bustle can be wonderful. Unfortunately, many families are financially strapped and never take that much-needed weekend getaway. With so many discount and coupon websites available, however, a weekend trip with the family is much cheaper than you might think!

Here are a few pointers to help you find the best deals for your family excursion…


Choose a location you can drive to. For a weekend trip, you want to maximize the time at your chosen destination, so keeping your drive-time to four hours or less is recommended. Draw a four-hour radius around your hometown, and decide which city within that circle would be the most fun for your family to visit. The larger the city, the more activities and discounts you will find.


Websites like will give you a list of hotels within the vicinity of where you’re going. Decide on the price you’re willing to spend on a room, and choose the highest rated hotel within your price range. You’ll be surprised at the low rates you can find for high-quality hotels!

TripAdvisor can be helpful in your hotel search, too. Not only does it provide reviews on hotels within your price range, but it also provides key information about parking, nearby attractions, and even available discounts. Once you’ve found a hotel, bed and breakfast, or other lodging option, TripAdvisor will search multiple discount sites simultaneously and help you get the best value for your money.


What you do on your getaway can make or break the trip. To maximize your spending cash, subscribe to discount sites like Groupon or LivingSocial, and watch for entertainment deals in your destination city. These deals can range anywhere from paintball and laser tag to local water parks, spas, and restaurants. By arranging activities through these discount sites, you are guaranteed to save at least 50% off the retail value for your excursion.

Searching your destination city’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) website is another great way to save on entertainment. These sites often have links to coupons and discounts. Check out the Kansas City CVB for an example.

Lastly, let Google do the work for you. Search “coupons for (your destination),” and see all the wonderful sites that come up!

In short, the key is to take the time to plan and research your trip. By following the above guidelines, you will find deals you didn’t even know were available. Plus, with all of the cash you save, you’ll already be well on your way to saving for your next getaway!

Middle School Transition

Have you noticed that your tween is acting a bit oddly? Is it the dreaded physical or hormonal changes of adolescence, or is it anxiety about an upcoming change in his/her life—the big leap from elementary to middle school? Chances are it’s a combination of both, resulting in your child acting out in ways that aren’t so thrilling to you. It’s not easy to make the transition from being the “oldest” at an elementary campus to being the “youngest” at a new, unfamiliar middle school.

Here are a few tips compiled from the Association for Middle Education:

  • Association for Middle Education (AMLE) gives a scientific explanation of this particular stage of childhood development that describes both physical and cognitive characteristics.
  • Great Schools describes the logistical, social, and academic concerns of the pre-teen in an easy-to-understand way. 

Logistical Fears:Will I be able to find my classes? Can I get across campus without being tardy? What if I can’t get into my locker?

  • Be sure your child attends orientation, or take her and a few friends to explore the school. Find the restrooms, cafeteria, and her locker. Make the trek in scheduled order from classroom to classroom. Time the route so she can be confident that getting there on time is feasible.
  • Buy a lock for your child’s locker in advance, and practice opening and closing it. Make sure your he has the combination memorized or written in a binder. If remembering a combination is too overwhelming, consider a keyed lock, but keep in mind that those keys are easy to lose.

Social Fears: Will I be able to make new friends? Will the big kids bully me?

  • Encourage your child to participate in sports or clubs. Doing so will enable her to meet others with similar interests, and the interaction immediately creates a sense of belonging and security.
  • Help your tween learn basic social skills at home such as joining a conversation without interrupting, adding something relevant to a conversation in progress, and making eye contact. Remind him that his actions directly affect others. Acting in a positive manner yields positive benefits and vice-versa.
  • Be sure your child knows that if she ever feels threatened or bullied, she can talk to you or a school counselor without shame or fear of retribution.

Academic Fears: Am I as smart as the other kids? Can I handle an increased load of homework and higher teacher expectations?

  • In elementary school, grades may have been based on a number scale or with marks like a check-plus, but in middle school, letter grades are more likely. The new grading system brings out the competitive nature of students. Be sure your child understands that grades are not a contest, and that marks are his personal business. As a parent, do not over react to grades. Changes in grades are normal during the adjustment period. See PBS Kids for more helpful information.
  • Middle school teachers have many more students to manage, and they expect students to take on more personal responsibility. You can teach time management skills by creating a schedule together and prioritizing school, home, and extracurricular activities.

While most of us consider children to be quite adaptable, change can still be intimidating. By taking an active role in helping your child be prepared for a new experience, you are helping to ensure that he/she will make the transition as smoothly as possible. All of life is filled with making changes, and teaching your child healthy coping skills at this stage can help set a positive pattern for the future.

Drugs and Alcohol - Talk to Your Kids

Sooner rather than later, it’s going to be time to talk to our children about drug use. Just because the topic is a sensitive one, it doesn’t mean bringing it up to them should be as scary as we’d all think. We have frequent opportunities in our day to day lives where we can address the subject organically and without too much discomfort for either parent or child. Listed below are guidelines for ways we can initiate a dialogue with our children about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse regardless of their age group.

We can introduce the topic of drug use to our children by as early as kindergarten or first grade. During this time in a child’s life, the best way to handle this discussion is by using teachable moments. These moments can be anything from giving our child prescription medication for a fever to seeing a commercial on TV for alcohol or even witnessing a family member smoking a cigarette. We need to use these moments as springboards to offer up detailed examples in understandable terms. By doing this we can explain exactly what drugs are and what they should be used for, as well as the potentially harmful side effects. Our children are the most observant of our behaviors and guidance at this age, so this is the best time to build a solid foundation for future discussions.

The older our kids get, the more we can transition from telling them what we think to asking them open-ended questions regarding their own thoughts on drug use. Children are more willing to have these honest and open dialogues with us in the years leading up to their teens, so we need to use this time to nurture that communication. At this stage, we want to make sure we get kids thinking about the subject and the consequences and remind them that we’re always available to discuss any concerns that they may have in a safe and welcoming environment.

Once our teens are in high school, their awareness and access to people using or talking about drugs will start to increase. By this point, we should have already established a clear understanding with them about what our expectations are when it comes to drug and alcohol use. We can create and discuss simple, direct agreements about how we expect them to behave and the repercussions of their actions. While we want to do our best to discourage our kids from hanging out with anyone who might participate in underage drinking or smoking, we need to also make sure that we remind them that they can feel safe coming to us if they end up in a situation where they need our help, no questions asked.

If we can promise to do our best to be prepared and willing to have these discussions with our kids, then we should feel confident that they’ll turn to us if they ever have questions or problems. If you don’t know where to turn to get answers, or if you need assistance finding a way to open up a dialogue with your children, please visit the following websites for countless free articles and advice.