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back to school

Lisa Kocab with her son PJ, who has down syndrome
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

As kids head back to school, it’s worth remembering that all kids have the right to a free education. But as we've pointed out time and again, free doesn’t necessarily mean equal. Where you live can have a big impact on the quality of education you receive, especially if you have a child with special needs.

 

 

building missing windows
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Neighborhoods matter.

A big part of the reason why is that good neighborhoods usually have better schools.

 

kid and school bus
Isabelle Acatauassu Alves Almeida / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

We've already reached the middle of July and this summer seems to be flying by.

Many stores already have pens, pencils, and notebooks prominently displayed. Their racks of new backpacks are fully stocked.

And while many parents will be falling back into the same school year routine as years past, others will be sending kids to school for the first time. If you're one of them, how can you make this transition easier for your little one?

1. Start your school routine early

user Andrew Taylor / Flickr

Thousands of children across Michigan will start kindergarten next week, and the truth is many of them won't be prepared to learn. For many low-income children, this will be their first time in a classroom, so they're playing catch-up from the start. From there it's a short hop, skip and jump to a full-blown achievement gap between low-income kids and their more wealthy peers by the time they're in middle school.

courtesy Melissa and Jeffrey Rice

The long, glorious summer is over for Michigan's kids. But the new school year does offer an opportunity for a fresh start

Today, we bring you a story of what that fresh start can look like from a kid's perspective. Leah Rice recently turned nine. Last year, she went through a difficult time with her family. Over the summer, we gave her an audio recorder. The story she tells on her own is different than the story you'd hear from the adults in her life. But Leah's story is a reminder of the importance of family, fun and the chance at a new beginning.  Click above to listen.