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Vogt's Notes: Motorists, be on lookout for school buses, children

Reflecting on my school years, I have fond memories of good ol' bus 7A. We students in the Crystal Lake neighborhood were proud to ride the Lakeville School District's only flat-faced bus.

Reflecting on my school years, I have fond memories of good ol' bus 7A. We students in the Crystal Lake neighborhood were proud to ride the Lakeville School District's only flat-faced bus.

It was especially fun those few times each year when we convinced our bus driver to drive the route in reverse on the way home. I don't think that would fly these days.

Luckily, I don't recall any bus accidents or near misses. Please take a moment to read our page A1 story on a school bus stoparm violation that occurred 13 years ago in the Pine River-Backus School District. The incident was recorded, and I urge you to view this compelling video on our website, pineandlakes.com.

Both the story and video are stark reminders that we drivers need to be careful on the road. No matter how late we are or how much in a hurry we are or how impatient we are, it's just not worth it to push the rules of the road and risk lives.

School buses are on all roads across the lakes area in full force beginning this week. Read our Ask the Trooper story on page A6 outlining school bus safety tips. Even if we think we know the rules, it doesn't hurt to brush up on them periodically.

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Following are good back-to-school tips from Education Minnesota to help parents get back into the swing of a new school year. These tips also are worth rereading even if we think we know it all.

• Get to know your child's teachers and support staff at the beginning of the year. Let them know you want feedback on your child's progress during the school year, as well as how you want to receive it - via email, text message, phone or in person. Meet with other school staff members who interact with your child every day.

• Set a regular place and time for your child to work on homework. Establish a distraction free "learning zone" (away from the TV, tablet or other distractions). Set a bedtime, too. Research shows that the quality and quantity of sleep has a profound impact on learning.

• Establish high expectations. Offer encouragement and praise for the effort your child puts into projects.

• Read as much as possible. Research proves that reading to small children and reading with older children leads to better academic performance.

• Prepare for your parent-teacher conferences. Remember conferences can begin in October, so it is not too soon to begin preparing.

These are great tips, and I urge all parents with school-age children to follow them.

Personally, this is the second year I don't have a child going back to school. I have to admit I don't miss the shopping trips for school clothes and school supplies. For the past two years, when the school supplies started showing up at area stores, I've felt a sense of relief that I didn't have to worry about buying them.

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I do still have a college student who bought her own school supplies and clothes, which is just fine with me. But you can bet I'll remind her of the rules of the road regarding school buses, and I'll show her these back-to-school tips.

Here's to a safe and successful 2016-17 school year.

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