The start of the school year is about a month away, and the Andover YMCA/Community Center is hosting an expo to provide helpful information for parents.
The Back 2 School Family Expo at the Andover community center, 15200 Hanson Blvd. N.W., is next Saturday, Aug. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Health professionals will be on-hand to answer questions on hearing, vision, dental and vaccination. There will be free hearing and vision screenings.
Parents can also find out more information about charter schools, home schooling, tutoring, after school programs, childcare, driver’s education, insurance programs for those playing sports, financial planning, vacation planning and much more.
The best part about this expo is that it is absolutely free. There is no admission charge and only 18 of the 108 vendors will be selling anything at the expo itself.
This expo was organized by stay-at-home mothers including Lucy McKiddy of Plymouth and her goal is to inform parents about the many services out there.
“It’s a place where parents can come and don’t have to worry about being nickel and dimed,” McKiddy said. “You don’t have to worry about saying no to your kids because it’s all free.”
McKiddy is referring to the many fun activities for kids to try out while their parents are spending time talking to other adults about serious matters. There will be bounce houses, face painting and something called balloon twisting.
Something everyone should enjoy are live dance routines, musical performances and karate demonstrations from local groups.
In short, there will be plenty to keep parents and kids occupied and informed.
McKiddy said the reason she and three other stay-at-home moms started an organization called Minnesota Media Group and wanted to hold an expo like this is to provide a comprehensive resource list for other parents. Sylvan Learning Center is a well-known company and they will be at the expo, but there are many tutoring services out there. Some specialize in specific subjects like math. There are even free tutoring services out there.
McKiddy has a 12-year-old son who she is home-schooling now because he was falling behind his peers in the classroom and the teacher did not have the time to give him the extra tutoring he needed. She will be enrolling him in a public school again this fall because he has made improvements at home.
Some students really struggle with high school and drop out. There are ways to still earn your general equivalency diploma (GED) online, however.
Minnesota Connections Academy and Paladin Academy are just a couple of examples of vendors who will be on-hand to speak about alternative educational opportunities.
There are so many extra curricular activities children can be doing. Some programs are affiliated with the schools and some are run by private companies. There are so many choices even amongst specific activities that can cause parents to be overwhelmed. For example, McKiddy’s son takes karate lessons. When she was searching for places to take him to there were wide-ranging costs. On top of that, some charged registration fees while others did not.
At the expo, you will be able to directly talk with the owners of these businesses to see how each are different. Your children may even take an interest in a new activity you never would have thought of before.
One area of the expo called The Lunchbox Lane will include vendors such as Grass Roots Co-Op and Snack Healthy to provide healthy choice options for kids who bring their own lunch to school.
“We’re trying to make it where parents can come and get as much information as possible before sending their kids back to school,” McKiddy said.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]