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Back-To-School and Your Child’s Eyesite

Dear Parent,

Family In Optics Store 640It won’t surprise you that I get the chance to talk to a lot of school teachers, administrators, and kids of all ages.

Keeping kids busy during the summer, getting them to and from school, homework, and trying to help them work up to their potential—these are all things that my wife Kelly and I (with our 7 children) have been dealing with since my oldest son started kindergarten over 30 years ago.

I have had a lot of conversations with family members about education since I was a young child. That doesn’t seem surprising since many in my family are teachers: my father, mother, three siblings, mother-in-law, and my one of my sons-in-law all have teaching degrees.

Schools Are Trying To Do Their Best, But….

I believe that most teachers and schools are trying to do a good job of teaching, but they face many difficulties. Class size, classroom materials, support from administration and parents—the list goes on and on.

As a parent, you cannot address many of the challenges of education. However, there are a number of things you CAN do, in spite of the school your kids attend, to help them reach their future potential and be happy in life.

I remember a single mom who told me she worked long hours and was too tired to help her daughter with her homework. She believed it was the school’s job to educate her daughter. Even though I sympathize with her and her situation, there is no substitute for your involvement in your child’s education.

You Can Help Your Child Reach Their Potential

Recently I was talking with a school administrator who drove in from Santa Barbara on a Saturday morning for her annual eye exam. After talking about her school and some of the challenges they face, I told her I was writing this letter to parents now that summer is here. I asked her opinion on activities parents can do in the summer with their kids that are both fun and educational.

Here are some of the things she mentioned (and a few extras). Check off the ones you might be interested in!

11 Fun Things To Keep Your Kids Happy All Summer

  • African American Father And DaughterThe Los Angeles Public Library offers free and low-cost passes to the LA Zoo, museums, parks, and science centers through their Discover & Go program. (I have personally used this with my own kids and grandkids). Go to for more details.
  • Read to them and with them. Many local libraries have free activities as well as summer reading programs.
  • Spend quality time building relationships. If your kids ask “can you play with me?”, try to make time instead of saying you are too busy.
  • Cook and bake together! Your kids can hone their math skills by measuring ingredients and then enjoy the tasty end result. You can even pick a country you want to learn more about and then cook a cultural dish.
  • Spend time outside. Create scavenger hunts, go to the beach, hike, bike, build a fort, have a campout in your backyard, play hide and seek, or have a water balloon fight. Just don’t forget to wear sunscreen and sunglasses!
  • Monitor computer and television time. Excessive screen time is bad for the eyes and can lead to symptoms of computer vision syndrome including dry and red eyes, blurry vision, headaches, and neck/back pain.
  • Attend local movies in the park – check out the upcoming showings in Playa Vista, Marina Del Rey, and Torrance. The Dockweiler Youth Center will be showing family movies on Friday nights this summer.
  • Break out the board games and watch time fly. Some great ones that come to mind are Operation, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, chess, and Scrabble.
  • Home Depot does a kids workshop on the first Saturday of the month where they have free DIY projects. Check out to register online.
  • Get creative with learning to paint, craft, sew, knit, crochet, dance, play the piano or another instrument. They can also build Legos, put together a puzzle, or write a short story.
  • Get your child ready for the new school year by getting their annual eye exam.

Did you know that many school-aged children who struggle in school have undiagnosed vision problems?

That’s because much of what your kids are learning in school is presented to them visually. They have to be able to see the board in class as well as read their textbooks in order to succeed academically. Their vision is also essential for performing in sports because of the necessary hand-eye coordination.

The summer days are slipping by quickly, but don’t let the most important things slip out of sight!

Even though there are some things you cannot change, you can do these three simple things in your kids’ best interest.

  • Schedule an eye exam.
  • Limit computer and screen time.
  • Get outdoors and enjoy educational experiences.

Give our office a call at (310) 670-4411 to set up your appointment. I am looking forward to seeing you and hearing about your summer activities!

All the best,

Dr. Harold T. Ashcraft

P.S. You can also visit us online at to set up a time to come in!