Lazy days of summer are over

Groggy children will wake up Sept. 5, as parents nudge them into a new schedule.

The pressure to get back on a school schedule is the hardest part for Elise Vazelakis, mother of four children, Alex, 10, Nicholas, 6, and twins Helena and Marie who will turn 5 this month. All four will attend Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School.

“The summer for me and my four children was relaxing,” said Vazelakis. “We wake up, have a big breakfast and go play at the beach . . . all of sudden it’s getting everybody geared up to be out the door by quarter to eight”

But Vazelakis said she looks forward to each new stage in her children’s lives.

“Right now I love having a 10-year-old who is kind of an adult but still a little kid,” she said. “It just keeps getting better.”

“I am pretty involved in the school,” said Vazelakis, who is a full-time mom.

Aside from helping in the classroom, she is also involved in the Parent Teacher Association.

“I love this job, to be a mom,” said Vazelakis, who owned a public relations business, which she closed after her twins were born.

“I have never regretted it,” she said.

Vazelaki said her children love school, learning and socializing. For them it’s a thrill, but it is also the end of an era for a mom who is excited about the kindergarten experience awaiting her daughters.

Dee Dee Cooper, a school librarian, has her daughter, Chelsea, well-prepared for kindergarten.

“She has been working on her letters and math during the summer,” said Cooper, who indicated the priority for Chelsea is to have fun and be excited about learning.

“Learning to be kind to people — the golden rule to do unto others as you would have them do unto you [is fundamentally taught in kindergarten]. As adults we still have problems with it,” she said.

The most costly preparation for parents in readying their children for school is shopping for supplies and the clothes.

However, shopping for elementary grade school children is not as costly as when the children reach middle and high school.

All they need at this stage is a backpack, lunchbox and school supplies.

Cooper’s son, Randall, will be attending fifth grade this year, and he is starting to pay attention to clothing styles. Shorts have to be a certain length and Cooper can’t go shopping for him alone because he refuses to wear what she chooses.

Lynda Marsolek comes from the other end of the spectrum. Her son Tuffer, who is 18, graduated from Malibu High and will attend Loyola Marymount College in Palos Verdes.

“It sure goes fast from the time they start kindergarten to the college years,” she said.

The pressure of clothing is not an issue in private schools. And during the three years her son attended Malibu High, she did notice money spent on clothing increased.

“With uniforms you can have five to six sets for every day but for other wardrobe you need more,” she said.

Since he will stay in a dorm at the college, Marsolek said she will miss him, but she realizes it’s a time of growth for her son.

The college experience is one that starts early on for parents.

“Financially, you plan from the time they start kindergarten,” said Marsolek, who also has a daughter in the ninth grade at Louisville High School.

Parental involvement does not end with the beginning of the school year, however, as parents’ help is essential during the entire year also.

“Our school depends on parental support to run,” said Cooper, who actively participates in her childrens’ education.

Anne Payne has been teaching elementary grades for many years. Five years ago, when Point Dume Marine Science Elementary opened, she joined four other teachers at the school, which has since then grown, with a waiting list.

“It’s a very big event,” said Payne, when discussing back-to-school preparation.

Parents and children alike are eager to find out what classes their children will attend, she said.

She noted, nowadays, parents are involved throughout the school year, helping in the classroom and with fund-raisers, which have become necessary so that schools can offer music and art programs as well as have the essential supplies.

“We could not do what we do without volunteers,” said Payne, who thinks that misconceptions exist about Malibu parents playing tennis and getting nails done.

In fact, they are very active in the classroom, said Payne, as she told the story of a family where the mother, father and the grandmother all participated in the classroom environment.

Teachers also have their work cut out for them. At the end of each school year, everything needs to be packed so the classrooms can be cleaned. The packing and unpacking is like “decorating a house in one week,” said Payne.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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