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by Vaun Thygerson
Staff writer and mother of three

In Hawaii, Aloha can be used to say both, “Hello” and “Good-Bye.”  This word seems apropos for August, because we are literally saying “Hello” to school and “Good-bye” to summer - two major highlights of our year.  Plus, it’s just a really fun word to say.

First, we say, “See ya next year,” to the lazy summer days, and in the same breath, we say, “Welcome Back,” to our favorite teachers and principals for another school year for our kiddos.  It’s a bittersweet moment for us all.

I said “Aloha” a lot this summer as my family spent our summer vacation in Hawaii.  We made memories for a lifetime on three different islands:  the Big Island, Maui, and Oahu.  My kids have exciting adventures to write in their annual first-day-of school essays, “What I Did This Summer,” complete with snorkeling, volcano tours, luaus, and fire dancers.

So, as we say “Good-bye” to our summer and all of its audaciousness, we say “Hello” to another academic year of promise and performance.  My youngest child is entering the Big Kid world of school – first grade.  He’s ready with his Darth Vader back pack and matching lunch box.   This year he gets a desk, recess with his older brother, and he stays there until 1:35 p.m.  My other two children don’t have quite as big of a transition – more of the same as my eight-year-old goes into third grade and my thirteen-year-old enters eighth grade.   However, a new journey awaits each child every new school year.

Each new experience brings many opportunities for your children to gain knowledge.  One of the best ways to encourage your children to broaden their horizons and learn more about the world around them is through reading.  In Tracie Grimes’s monthly book review, “Teaching Your Children Well Through Reading,” on page 27 she writes about how reading opens up new worlds for you and your children.  She says reading helps children learn about a life beyond their own.  Some of the books she recommends include “Secrets of the Garden:  Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard,” by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, “The Klampie Mystery,” by Luis Rodriguez, and “Lola Reads to Leo,” by Anna McQuinn.  And, for mommy, she suggests, “Sweetgrass,” by Mary Alice Monroe.

Summer vacations are another way to help children learn more about life and experience new things, but Tracie Grimes says you need to manage expectations when traveling with your children.  In her Humor at Home article, “The Family Trip,” she explores the distinction between a vacation and a trip.  She writes about the reality of family trips versus the picture-perfect vacations portrayed in television commercials.  For a laugh, make sure to turn to page 10.

Also in this issue, check out, “Going Gluten Free.”  This article features two local families, the Trovatos and the Noguchis, who have found many health benefits by adhering to a gluten-free diet.  Many families have had to make this lifestyle choice due to Celiac Disease and/or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  Turn to page 11, to find out how these families made the switch and learn from their experiences.

This month, as we sharpen our pencils and fill up our shopping carts with new school supplies, we anxiously await all that this academic year has in store for us.  Also, as our children write their essays reminiscing about their summer vacation, they have made many memories to recount in proper penmanship on their crisp, white paper.  August is a great month to simply say, “ALOHA!”

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Tags: Enrichment, Featured Story

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