Last weekday before school starts. What are you doing?

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This was Ben Villalpando at the start of the school year last year. Monday he heads to high school.
This was Ben Villalpando at the start of the school year last year. Monday he heads to high school.

This was Ben Villalpando at the start of the school year last year. Monday he heads to high school.

We’ve hit the doctor’s offices, but hopefully, you’re actually doing something fun before the daily balance of school, homework and after-school activities begin.

Don’t forget to send us your first day of school photos at readerphotos@statesman.com and hashtag them on Twitter and Instagram at #atxfirstday. We love seeing their shiny faces.

Read our back-to-school stories here and here. You can find more at austin360.com/backtoschool.

For those keeping tabs on my to-do list, here’s where the Villalpando family now stands

1. Get back on a sleep schedule. Gradually start going to bed earlier and waking up earlier. It will make that first week so much easier. School-age children need at least 10 hours a day. Both kids were up at 11 p.m. last night when I went to bed, so we’ve failed on this one.

2. Get your yearly physical, especially if you want to play sports. Make sure you are up-to-date on shots. Get the list of required vaccinations by age from your school district or the Texas Department of Health Services, and be aware that additional shots are needed in middle school and high school. Done, surprisingly in June, and I even know where the sheet is.

3. Figure out where the bus stop is or how you are getting to school and back. By mid-August, most districts have bus stop information online. Yes! Our information arrived in the mail on Thursday. Check your local school district’s website for yours if you don’t already know it.

5. Find out when Meet the Teacher is scheduled. Meet the Teacher is a great time to ease into the school year with important information, such as who your teacher is, which friends are in your classroom and what other supplies you might need. Some schools even let you drop off supplies on this day. For kids in middle school or high school, find out when you can get your schedule, your books and maybe a locker if you’re allowed to have one. Done.

6. Get reading and put down the screens. If you have assigned summer reading, are you done yet? If not, start cranking in these next two weeks. No assignment? Pick up a book anyway and get in the habit of learning again. Done, and we’ve also tried to reduce screen time and go outside, too.

7. Start investigating after-school activities. What kinds of clubs, sports or music lessons do you want to do this year? Do they work with your family schedule and finances? If you did activities last year, do you want to sign up again or do you want to try something new. We still have some questions about one of Ben’s, but for Ava, we are all set for Girl Scouts.

8. Get your homework space ready. Where are you going to do your work? Do you have a desk, a space at the kitchen table or a comfortable chair with a lap desk? Do you have all the supplies you need at home, including paper and pencils? Does this space have good light and few distractions? Ava took care of her desk area. Ben’s is still a work in progress. He doesn’t really care, so we’ll have to get it ready this weekend for him.

9. Look ahead at the calendar. When are the big events happening at school this year that you don’t want to miss? Put them on your family calendar. When are the random days off and extended breaks? What will you do on those days? Do Mom and Dad need to get you a babysitter, find you a camp or take the day off? We’ve done that and even managed to schedule doctor’s appointments on some of those days so kids won’t miss too much school. And, we figured out at high school orientation what a “late start day” is and how it works.

10. Enjoy these last weeks of vacation. If you’ve wanted to try out a new pool or go to a new park, this is your chance. You can find my list of cool things to do before summer ends at austin360.com/raisingaustin. Still can’t get these people to leave their air-conditioned rooms. Oh, well. They did get to sleep in a lot and build a lot of things with Legos as well as play a lot of video games. They are happy and ready to head back to school.

How is your family doing?


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