10 Back to School Essentials You Might Be Forgetting

10 Back to School Essentials You Might Be Forgetting | Houston Moms Blog

It’s not until we’re standing in the middle of Target, clutching a paper list of school supplies in our hand, mentally screaming that nothing matches what the school’s asked for, that we — as parents — realize everything we thought we knew about back to school is completely wrong. It’s never easy, and it’s never simple. Somehow, though, we forget from one year to the next everything that back to school encompasses.

This year, however, we’re rallying together for the betterment of parents everywhere and compiling a complete tip-list for all of the back to school essentials you just might be forgetting…

Supplies ::

That list from the school? It’s nothing less than a compilation of mental torture. Eight thin markers. Eight? The markers come in packs of ten. Two hundred count looseleaf, wide-ruled paper? It comes in a pack of 175 … and that’s if the store hasn’t sold out. Three glue sticks? Six pencil erasers? Sulfite Construction Paper? 18×20 WHITE construction paper? A white vinyl binder … with brads? What in the world is happening right now?

Who comes up with these lists? 

Although it’s cheaper to purchase the supplies at the store — around $15, depending on the list — purchasing the pack from the school can save every parent the grief of standing in the middle of Walmart or Target, mentally screaming at that list clutched against the hand.

Take it from us; eat the cost and buy the pack.

Registration ::

Every year, before school starts, the district opens registration for former and incoming students. For Kindergarten parents, the registration requires information regarding the history of the child … and it sometimes feels as if they want to know whether your child was born through natural birth, or through a Cesarean. 

The most important information to focus on is emergency contacts, school visitors, the child’s allergies, and any medication the child requires at school.

Oh, and don’t forget to save a utility bill that states your name and address. The school uses those to verify zoning.

Clothes ::

Children seem to sprout during the summer months. Whether it’s freedom from the confines of a school building, or the ability to run and eat {and eat, and eat, and eat} with free abandon, summer is the month where clothes stop fitting. They also get dirty and torn during this time. 

There are so many deals and discounts that occur before school, which makes clothing shopping easier. Also, if the school requires uniforms, there are places that carry the standard outfits at a discount. Walmart, Target, and The Children’s Place are stocked full of plain, collared shirts and khaki or navy shorts and pants. Be on the lookout for coupons, sales, and deals at these stores. 

Shoes ::

Most schools require close-toed shoes, which is the most important thing to remember during back-to-school preparation. If your children can’t lace their shoes, buy a pair with sturdy velcro. If they can tie their shoes, remember to teach them how to double-knot. There’s nothing worse than a classroom full of kiddos tripping over their laces.

Lunches ::

Do we pack or do we buy? Can we do both throughout the week? The answer to that is yes! If money is sent with the child, then the school will set up an account under his name. Make sure to ask the school which website stores the lunch account, so that the balance can be checked and adjusted throughout the year. Also, find out what happens to the if the account gets low, or if the funds aren’t there. Usually it’s a cheese sandwich — but some schools don’t have a backup program in place. 

Backpacks ::

Backpacks are usually the easiest part of back to school. Everyone remembers the backpack — how else do the mountains of supplies, like that ever-annoying white construction paper, get to the school? But, can it have wheels? Usually not. Is it supposed to be mesh or plastic, because the district has a policy in place regarding see-thru backpacks? These are things to check on before you spend time and effort monogramming initials into that backpack bought at Pottery Barn.

Arrival & Dismissal ::

How will our littles get to school and back home? Will our children walk, ride a bike, ride the bus, or be driven by a parent? Where are the school’s bike racks? Where are the car riders dropped off in the morning {because it’s likely different from where the school and daycare buses arrive}? When does the school open its doors for early arrival? 

Will we drop off in the morning and have daycare pick up in the afternoon?  Where does the bus pick up and drop off, and what times does that occur? Who will be home to meet the bus, or is the child a latch-key kid? Where is the spare key, in the event that children are children, and they lose their key due to a hole in the backpack?

Arrival and dismissal are without a doubt some of the most important logistics to get into place prior to the first day of school.  Be sure you have a thorough plan figured out, that it is communicated clearly {and repetitively} with your child, and that it is well documented in your child’s school paperwork.  Also, most schools will encourage you to begin your child’s regular transportation on the first day of school.  So while it might be tempting to walk your child into class and watch them out the window until the principal scurries you off, it will make for a much easier transition if you kick off the school year with whatever mode of transportation you have decided on for the remainder of the year.

Pictures ::

Oh, the pictures. Are we crafty moms? Are we front door moms? Are we poster board moms? Are we chalk board moms? Do we pose by the school’s sign? Do we pose with props by the house? Will we stand in front of the garage door, and pose for our “before and after” picture?

If you’re not sure, play around. Make a test chalkboard the week before, or set up the props by the front door to see where the shadows are. Also, be prepared for tired and slightly overwhelmed children. A grumpy child picture is just as amazing as a smiling child one; plus, there are more stories involved. 

Snacks ::

Most elementary school teachers ask that we pack a small snack for our littles to munch on, because a 10:00 AM lunch followed by a 3:00 PM dismissal is a long time for tiny tummies. Snacks should be mess-free, and should not require a utensil, napkin, or wipe of any kind. Therefore, yogurt, strawberries, or the crunchy granola that falls into a million pieces should be avoided during snack time. Also be cautious of sending foods containing allergens, because those ingredients are not as actively monitored as they are in the lunch room setting.

Extracurriculars ::

If the kiddos are involved in fall or year-round sports, put a plan in place surrounding extracurriculars. Will dinner be before practice or after? If it’s after, how long will dinner take to prepare? Are snacks required for hungry tummies? Is there a snacking method for dinners? Will dinner be ready in a crock pot?

Plan ahead, and be prepared. Create a plan of action concerning everything that will happen the first day and first week of back-to-school. What’s more, plan it out with your children. Have them talk you through what will happen, when it will happen, and how it will happen, so that everything goes as smoothly as it can on that first day.

Back-to-school can seem simple, or it can be completely terrifying, depending on whether we are Kindergarten moms or veterans to everything school related. Hopefully, with these tips, the madness won’t seem as overwhelming.

Do you have any other back to school tips to share with Houston moms?  Let’s hear them in the comments below!

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