The back-to-school “to do” list can get stressful for parents and children as the start of the new term quickly approaches. Between shopping, readjusting mindsets, registering for school and squeezing some final moments of fun out of summer and more, parents can definitely get overwhelmed.
Here are 10 tips for parents to have a stress-free start to this school year.
- Start establishing a new routine. “Parents should work now to normalize as much as possible,” said family therapist Shawn Lockridge. “Parents may have been a little lenient during the summer on bedtime and screen time. It’s important that children who have been staying up late, especially on video games, are given time to get back into the structure of school years.”
- Check vaccinations. With COVID-19 still raging, and other preventable diseases coming back, Lockridge encourages all parents to check with their health care provider, health department or school system on getting updated vaccinations. And don’t wait. “A lot of parents don’t think about vaccinations until right when school starts then they’re scrambling to try and get into the crowded doctor’s office,” Lockridge said. Call your child’s doctor and schedule a visit for updated vaccinations or physicals ahead of the school year. Texas has a minimum state vaccine requirement for grades K-12. Students must show evidence of acceptable vaccinations before entry, attendance, or transfer to a child-care facility, public or private elementary or high school in Texas.
- Make sure kids get some sleep. Adequate sleep is essential to a successful school year. That involves shutting off electronic devices, keeping weekday and weekend routines consistent and potentially installing black-out curtains to keep the room dark. “Kids need about 10 hours of sleep a day, which is more sleep than people realize,” Lockridge said.
- Get to know your kids’ teachers. This one is self-explanatory but you’d be amazed at the number of parents who don’t bother. If you can’t make orientations, make it your business to get up to the school during your child’s first week. Or at least connect via email. Don’t wait until the last week of school to do this (which many teachers say is quite common).
- Be aware of the financial commitment. There’s nothing like getting your back-to-school shopping out of the way, only to discover your child needs $40 for a gym uniform, $30 for a lab fee, $10 for an ID, etc. Make sure you’re aware of all the expenses you will incur so you’ll be better prepared to tackle them.
- Be aware of extra-curricular activities. Find out what extracurricular programs you can sign up for. Talk with teachers and school officials. The last thing you want is your child to be set on being on the football team, only to discover tryouts were three weeks ago. Take notes of important dates throughout the year – first day of school, PTA meetings, registration deadlines.
- Get wardrobes organized. Enjoy school-shopping with your child and involve them by giving them choices. That way you’ll avoid early morning fights over what to wear, especially if your children don’t wear uniforms. Organize your child’s clothes for the entire week. Pick every outfit out on Sunday afternoon and lay them out or hang them up for the week.
- Get a head start. Prepare yourself for early mornings and prepare what you can the night before. Being ready for a school morning is the best thing that you can do to get your family off to a great start. It makes a HUGE difference (and cuts back on stress and chaos during the mornings).
- Check your inventory. Do you have supplies that can be reused? Do you still have items in good condition? Take your time to sort through which items you don’t need and make a list of ones you do before you head to the store.
- Plan menus. Start your child’s day out right with a great meal. Plan some easy, healthy, after-school snacks to fill your kids just enough until dinnertime. School meals changes might occur. In the case that they do, start planning what lunches and snacks you will pack. Search for what will be served at the school’s cafeteria and what you can make at home. How much do meals cost at school? How much money do you need to spend on meal prep? Parents should always have fruits and vegetables that the children eat prepared, washed and ready to go. Pre-made sandwiches for afterschool snacks or for in-between activities are a great way to stay out of fast-food drive-thrus.
Check out resources and schedules
By Laura Onyeneho
The key to having a productive and stress-free return to school starts with proper planning.
With the costs of products and services increasing, this is a perfect time to search for places to buy school necessities while getting the most bang for your buck.
Utilize community resources for assistance. Here are a few in the Houston area.
Society of Champions Back to School Giveaway
Date: Aug. 6
Time: 12 p.m.- 3 p.m.
Location: 18103 Cypress Trace Rd.
Back 2 School Festival hosted by the City of Houston
Date: Aug. 13
Time: 8 a.m.-2 p.m., or until supplies last.
Location: George R. Brown Convention Center
B&P Charities and Nonprofits Back to School Backpack Give Away
Date: Aug. 13
Time: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Location: 2915 S Sam Houston Pkwy. E. Suite 400
Junior League of Houston’s Back to School Bash
Date: Aug. 21
Time: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
To purchase tickets, visit jih.org
SCHOOL DISTRICT/ DATES STARTING
Aldine ISD, Aug. 17
Alief ISD, Aug. 8
Channelview ISD, Aug. 15
Crosby ISD, Aug. 11
Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Aug. 22
Fort Bend ISD, Aug. 10
Galena Park ISD, Aug. 11
Houston ISD, Aug. 22
Humble ISD, Aug. 9
Katy ISD, Aug. 17
Klein ISD, Aug. 10
New Caney ISD, Aug. 8
Pearland ISD, Aug. 17
Sheldon ISD, Aug. 17
Spring Branch, Aug. 16
Tomball ISD, Aug. 16
Take advantage of Texas’ tax-free weekend
Aug. 5-7 is the state’s sales tax holiday weekend. You don’t have to pay taxes on items purchased online or in person as long as your shopping cart of items is under $100 including delivery fees. If you are looking for school supplies or clothes that are exempt from tax visit comptroller.texas.gov.