Is it better to start school on a Monday or in the middle of the week? Weigh in

Is it better to start school midweek or on a Monday? That is the question I’m currently pondering.

RELATED: Do you know when school starts?

This week, on Wednesday, a bunch of schools started back including Lake Travis, Bastrop, Liberty Hill, Wimberley and Lago Vista. The next wave came on Thursday with Round Rock, Leander, Pflugerville and Georgetown joining them.

Parents and children stand in line at Deep Wood Elementary School on the first day of school to take photos. Round Rock ISD started classes on Thursday.  Henry Huey for Round Rock Leader.

On Monday, Austin ISD, Manor and Burnet return to class. Followed by Dripping Springs, Hutto and Smithville on Tuesday, and Eanes, Elgin and Marble Falls next Wednesday.

Bringing up the rear on Aug. 27, is Hays Consolidated, San Marcos Consolidated and Del Valle.

So, is it better to start mid-week or on a Monday?

That’s like asking: do you rip off the bandage in one jerky move or do you peel it away millimeter by millimeter?

A long time ago… like when my now senior in high school was in kindergarten … Austin ISD did start on a Thursday. At the time I thought, “That’s just crazy!” Why a Thursday?

Now I get it. There are pluses and minuses.

Pro mid-week:

You get a gradual ease in. For those anxious kids, it’s just a few days and then a weekend break. Whew!

RELATED: How to help a shy child get ready for school

You have two days to pick up school supplies before the next class, rather than one night. If you have a middle-schooler or high-schooler, you know what I’m talking about. The first time your kid goes to a class, they get a list of supplies they need. If you have a kid on an A-day/B-day schedule, it takes two days to see all of their teachers. If you start on a Monday, your kid doesn’t get their complete list until Tuesday.

Next Tuesday night, I and all the other frustrated parents of Austin ISD kids will be in the Walmart or Target scrounging for supplies that are no longer there.

RELATED: Dear Walmart and Target, kids still need school supplies

One year, I tried to out-guess the teachers and pre-buy supplies. I ended up with a bunch of stuff that neither one of my kids needed. Now I buy basics: notebook paper, pencils, composition books, pens. That’s it and wait until we get the list.

That means I’m with all of you desperate and irritated parents at the big box store. One year, my kid needed a certain kind of dry erase marker that I checked five different stores to find and finally located it in the CVS of all places. And then my kid transferred out of that class two weeks later. The time spent, the pressure around finding items, is crazy-making.

RELATED: Where’s the most popular places to buy school supplies?

Teachers get a weekend between the first few days of school and the first full week to get their classrooms back in order. (And yes, we know you’re not supposed to be working on the weekend, but we also realize that you do.)

Pro-Monday start date:

Teachers get a weekend between Meet the Teacher and the first day of school. They have time to touch base with parents who had questions at Meet the Teacher. They can put away all the supplies the kids brought to Meet the Teacher. They can follow up with the parents who weren’t able to make it.

Parents don’t have to find a half-week camp for their kids or take off a couple of days because they can’t find a camp for those two or three days.

High-schooler and middle-schoolers really get a sense of their whole schedule that first week. There’s no delay in figuring out if the course load is too crazy.

The transition could be easier if you have a kid who likes routine. Bedtime and wake-up time routines get established quickly. It feels like school has begun.

What do you think? Are you Pro Midweek Start or Pro Monday Start? Share your thoughts in the comments.

RELATED: How to take a good first day of school photo

RELATED: What to do the night before school starts

 

What to ask at Meet the Teacher event

This week, many elementary schools have Meet the Teacher events.

The folks at Edutopia website have compiled a list of 19 meaningful questions to ask your child’s teacher for a productive conversation during meet-the-teacher night.

Sixth grade teacher Sarita Lakey, left, greets student Brayan Lopez, as he arrives at Austin Achieve public school for the start of a new school year. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

As schools and parents across Central Texas prepare for the meet-and-greet, here are five questions from the Edutopia list that would work for most any grade level:

  • How will you respond if or when my child struggles in class?
  • What are the most important and complex (content-related) ideas my child needs to understand by the end of the year?
  • What kinds of questions do you suggest that I ask my children on a daily basis about your class?
  • Is there technology you’d recommend that can help support my child in self-directed learning?
  • What are the most common barriers you see to academic progress in your classroom?

RELATED: Teachers offer this advice for going back to school

Remember, Meet the Teacher is as much a get-to-know you session for you with the teacher and for the teacher with you. It’s also a crazy time for teachers who are meeting as many as 25 to 30 students and their parents for the first time.

Here are our don’ts for that day:

Find more information and tips about back to school with our special back to school site, statesman.com/back-to-school-2018.

— Statesman education editor Robert Eckhart contributed to this blog.

Eating late at night could put you at risk for cancer, study finds

What time of day you eat could make a difference when it comes to cancer. A new study of from Spain that was done from 2008-2013 on 1,826 people who had either prostate cancer or breast cancer and 2,193 people who did not asked about how close to bedtime people ate meals. The study was published in the International Journal of Cancer in July.

What it found was that people who didn’t eat within two hours of their bedtime had a 20 percent decreased risk for prostate cancer and breast cancer. They also found a similar reduction in people who ate before 9 p.m. verses people who ate after 10 p.m.

Having the occasional slice of pizza late at night isn’t a bad thing, but doing it all the time might increase your risk of cancer, a new study finds. American-Statesman 2014

Why would that timing matter? The study researchers seemed to think it had to do with the body’s circadian rhythms and their disruption. Dr. Vivian Cline, an oncologist at St. David’s Medical Center and Texas Oncology, says that like many studies, it brings up more questions than they answer, but this study had a large number of participants and it was asking participants to go back multiple years to look at their lifestyles.

We’ve already known that smoking is a risk factor, but studies are also looking at things like excess body weight and exercise, and like this one circadian rhythms. Other studies revealed that people who work nights have an increased cancer risk — again thought to be about the disruptions in circadian rhythms, Cline says.

Dr. Vivian Cline is an oncologist at St. David’s Medical Center and Texas Oncology.

We aren’t talking about eating late at night once or working an overnight shift once, she says. “We’re talking about habitual late-night eating.” With night-shift employees, doctors found it disrupted their glucose, cortisol and leptin levels. These workers also had a higher level of inflammation. All of this speaks to increases in cardiometabolic diseases and cancers.

“A lot of factors go into cancer,” Cline says, “It’s a dance between genetics and environment.”

While we can’t really do much about our genetics, “you can do something about your environment.”

So, why would eating less than two hours before going to bed mess with the circadian rhythms. “It’s intuitive,” she says. “When you eat a lot and go right to bed, you don’t sleep as well.”

For her patients with cancer already, Cline says if they are complaining about heartburn and not being able to sleep, she might recommend not eating within two or three hours of going to bed to see if that helps before adding another pill to their regimen.

For patients who are coming to her before they have cancer because of their heightened risk factors, she now might recommend not eating within two hours of going to bed in addition to talking to them about excess body fat, glucose levels and definitely smoking.

Smoking is still the No. 1 risk factor and the No. 1 thing she counsels against, followed by excess weight, increasing physical activity and healthier diet.

Sometimes that means having a nonjudgmental, yet tough conversation about weight. “Let’s look at your diet and reduce fat, salt and sugar and exercise regularly so you’re not in my office for a cancer diagnosis,” she says. “We need to try to make me obsolete.”

While eating late won’t move to the top of that list of risk factors, it is something that she says she’ll now talk to her patients about.

Shopping for back to school this tax-free weekend? Pick up diapers for Austin Diaper Bank

Tax-free weekend is almost here. Friday-Sunday, you can get most clothing and school supplies tax-free. That’s an 8.25 percent savings.

You know what you can also get? Diapers, both ones for babies and ones for adults.

RELATED: What’s tax-free this weekend and what’s not

The Austin Diaper Bank needs your diapers. AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2016

The Austin Diaper Bank would be happy to have your donation. Right now, they particularly need size 5 and size 6, but they’ll take any size diapers and they’ll take ones for adults, too.

“While diaper donations slow during the summer, the need does not,” said Holly McDaniel, executive director of the Austin Diaper Bank, in a press release. “If we can’t replenish some of our supplies, some of our neighbors in Central Texas may not get the diapers they need to keep babies or other family members clean, dry and healthy during these hot months.”

You can drop diapers off at these locations:

Whole Foods Downtown (Outdoor Bin)
525 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703

AustinBorn
5555 N. Lamar Blvd. Suite C127
In PS Business Park

Austin Diaper Bank Warehouse (Outdoor Bin)
8711 Burnet Road, back of Building B, 78757

BabyEarth (Outdoor Bin)
106 E. Old Settlers Blvd.
Just east of I-35 in Round Rock
Store hours: M-Sat 9-8 and Sun 11-6

Big Sky Pediatric Therapy
9433 Bee Caves Road, Suite 101
Near Laura Bush Library at Cuernavaca
Store hours: M-F 8-5

College Nannies + Tutors
3736 Bee Caves Road, Suite 3
In Walgreens shopping center
Store hours: M-Th 10-8, F 10-4, Sun 11-4

Dance Xplosion
9600 Escarpment Blvd. Suite 750
By Starbucks
Store hours: M, T, TH, F: 9-12, 3-7, W: 3-8, Sat. 8:30-12:30

Evans Family Dental
9001 Brodie Lane
Right behind Jet’s Pizza
Hours: M-Th 7:30-4

Just4Kids
101B Pecan Street W.
In Pflugerville
Store hours: M-Sat 10-7 and Sun 12-6

Kid to Kid Austin
14010 N. U.S. 183, Suite 420
By Barnes and Noble and Texas Land and Cattle
Store hours: M-Sat 10-7 and Sun 12-5

Special Addition
7301 Burnet Road
Across from Ichiban
Store hours: M-Fri 10-6 and Sat 10-5

Wells Branch Community Library
15001 Wells Port Drive
Austin, TX 78728
Hours: M-Thurs 10-8, Sat 10-6 and Sun 1-6

If you don’t want to mess with the stores, you also can shop the bank’s Amazon wish list. 

Find out more about the bank at www.austindiapers.org.

Before school starts, find family fun in Austin, Aug. 10-12

For some of you, this is the last weekend before school starts. Others of you have more time, yet still the summer is dwindling.

Find something fun

FRIDAY

That’s My Face, Youth and Young Adult Film Series continues with “The Mask You Live In,” 6:30 p.m. Friday. George Washington Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St. austintexas.gov

Art Smart Public Mural Project.  1 p.m. Friday, Pleasant Hill Branch.

Lego Lab. 3:30 p.m. Friday, Hampton Branch. 2 p.m. Friday, Carver Branch.

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

Zilker Botanical Garden Woodland Faerie Trail. The trail is full of homes people have created for the fairies. Open through Friday. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road. zilkergarden.org

Summer Stock Austin’s “The Music Man.” 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Friday. $26-33. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

Summer Stock Austin’s “Rob1n.” Musical by Allen Robertson and Damon Brown explores what if Robin Hood was a girl. 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday. $9-18. thelongcenter.org

Jessica O’Brien, left, and Riley Wesson perform in the musical “All Shook Up” at Zilker Hillside Theatre. Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman

FRIDAY-SUNDAY

Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp offers morning movies for a $1 to $5 donation. Plus you can collect stamps for prizes. “Prince of Egypt,” 10 a.m. Friday, 10:15 a.m. Sunday, Mueller. 10 a.m. Friday-Saturday, Slaughter Lane. “Despicable Me,” 10 a.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Sunday, Lakeline. 

Zilker Summer Musical’s “All Shook Up.” 8:15 p.m. Thursday-Sunday through Aug. 18. Free, but donations are welcome. Zilker Hillside Theatre, 2206 William Barton Drive. zilker.org

“Beauty and the Beast” comes to the stage at Zach Theatre. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $25-$150. Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org

SATURDAY

Splash Bash. Free community event with swimming, bounce house and more. Learn how to prevent drowning as well as have fun. 1-4 p.m. Saturday. TownLake YMCA, 1100 W. Cesar Chavez St. austinymca.org

The Austin Humane Society Teddy Bear Surgery, 1 p.m. Saturday. Free, but you must register, austinhumanesociety.org, 512-646-7387. Austin Humane Society, 124 W. Anderson Lane

Families create events play with different media at Laguna Gloria.
RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Create Ice Paintings during Contemporary Austin’s August free Families Create event, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. thecontemporaryaustin.org

Thinkery. Baby Bloomers, for birth to age 3. Splash into Summer in August. 9 a.m. Saturday. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

The Williamson Museum offers Hands on History. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. 716 S. Austin Ave. williamsonmuseum.org

Paramount Theatre’s summer series. “Grease,” 1 p.m. Saturday. $6-$12. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org

“Daniel Tiger.” (PBS)

Alamo Drafthouse Events. “The Karate Kid,” 1 p.m. Saturday, Village. “PBS Kids: Back to School with Daniel Tiger,” 10 a.m. Saturday, Lakeline. 10 a.m. Saturday, Mueller.  drafthouse.com

The Bullock Museum is offering its Summer Family Film Series: “Toy Story,” 2 p.m. Saturday. $5. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com

BookPeople events. Vanessa Roeder reads “Lucy and the String.” 2 p.m. Saturday. Story time. All in the Family, 10:30 a.m. Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com

Barnes & Noble Saturday 11 a.m. story times at all locations. “A is for Astronaut.” barnesandnoble.com

Gods and Heroes Party. 2 p.m. Saturday, Howson Branch.

Bianca Serra, 4, visited the Umlauf Sculpture Garden with her family where she prayed with a bronze statue of a nun. LAURA SKELDING / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

SUNDAY

Austin Symphony Hartman Concerts in the Park. 7:30 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 26. Free. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum remembers President Lyndon Baines Johnson during Family Day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, 605 Robert E. Lee Road. umlaufsculpture.org

Get Curious with Tumble! A Science Party for Kids. 2 p.m. Sunday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com

Family Matinee “The Nut Job 2.” 3 p.m. Sunday, Little Walnut Creek Branch.

Austin Ukestra-Ukulele Group. 1 p.m. Sunday, Recycled Reads.

Get kids with food allergies ready for back to school with these tips

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When your kid has a food allergy, diabetes or another life-threatening condition, back to school can be stressful. What will happen if your kid with a peanut allergy accidentally sits next to the kid with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and gets exposed to peanut butter? What will happen if your kid with celiac disease is offered a birthday cupcake or is told something is gluten-free and it’s not? Or if your kids with diabetes has a low blood sugar moment?

Maplewood Elementary School students eat lunch in the cafeteria. If your child has a food allergy, talk to the school ahead of time to negotiate how to avoid that food. Tamir Kalifa for American-Statesman 2015

Dr. BJ Lanser, who is the director of the Pediatric Food Allergy Program at National Jewish Health, offered these tips about managing food allergies, that could be applied to other conditions as well:

  • Meet with school staff members: Set up meetings with principals, teachers, nurses and cafeteria staff. This ensures that everyone is informed and prepared and allows a parent to understand how a child’s school manages food allergies.
  • Create a written plan: Work with an allergist to develop an action plan that outlines all necessary information on your child’s allergy, including how to prevent accidental exposures and how to recognize and treat symptoms of an allergic reaction.
  • Post pictures: Tape pictures of your child to the classroom wall with information on their allergies to alert anyone that comes into the room. You can also post one on your child’s desk, which can serve as a secondary reminder when snacks are served.
  • Make safe snacks: Pack allergen-free snacks for your child in case someone brings in a treat for the class. Send the snacks to school with a label specifying that they are safe, or leave some with their teacher so your child won’t feel left out during classroom celebrations.

I’ve also written about how to handle school issues when you have a child with a gluten intolerance or Celiac’s disease. A lot of the same principles would apply to any food allergy or intolerance. Some of the suggestions:

  1. Have approved snacks at school for the teacher to give out if there is a cupcake day.
  2.  Educate the teacher and the classes’ parents about why your child can’t have the cupcake and offer parents solutions of what they could bring for your child.
  3. Empower kids to be their own advocate and understand what they can and cannot have.

We’ve also gathered tips from chef Amy Fothergill, who has kids with gluten allergies and has a gluten-free cookbook. She suggests:

Have good communication with teachers and other parents. Be vocal about what your child’s food needs are and be proactive about finding solutions. However, don’t expect that the teacher or parent will change what they are planning to suit your child. It’s nice when it happens, but not realistic to depend on that.

Try to pre-plan with similar food alternates. Fothergill finds out ahead of time when there will be a party at school or what a birthday party host will be serving. If it’s not what her children can eat, she will make her children the gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free equivalent if that is possible. A teacher even asked her to make the whole class gluten-free spaghetti for an event so that it wouldn’t be an issue.

Try to always have food on-hand. Fothergill keeps a freezer of food, especially baked goods for parties. She also sets up teachers with either pre-packaged cookies or frozen cupcakes they can keep in the freezer at school for when parties happen. Of course, on the occasion when her kids don’t have access to an alternative, they learn that “they can’t always get what the want,” she says. “Sometimes you have to wait.”

Eat before an event. If her kids are headed to a play date, she has them make a gluten-free sandwich beforehand. If there aren’t good choices at the event, they won’t be hungry.

Bring something with you. She also tries to have snacks on-hand wherever they go.

Learn where there could be cross-contamination. They stopped eating things like corn chips and fries because of the cross-contamination that happens when a restaurant fries the onion rings or the chicken nuggets in the same fryer as the chips or the fries. She’s also learned to always ask questions even if you would think something like a risotto would be gluten-free, but you find out that that particular chef puts flour in his risotto. She’s also learned to look at beauty products as well.

And again: Empower kids to be their own advocates. It gets easier with time, but her kids have learned how to talk to adults and their friends about their food needs. “It makes them independent,” she says.

Halloween, which is really only two months away can be a difficult time for kids with food allergies or intollerances.

Marty Barnes, founder of Casey’s Circle, supporting medically fragile kids had these suggestions for handling things Halloween:

  1. Encourage neighbors to stock non-food items in their trick-or-treat basket, such as glow bracelets, stickers, tattoos, noise makers, bouncy balls.
  2. Put a sticker on your child that says “non-food items only.” That way you don’t have to explain at every door why you can’t take the candy.
  3. Place a sign on your door that reads “Non-food items available here.” Or paint a pumpkin teal. The Food Allergy Research & Education group created the Teal Pumpkin project to represent that you are food-allergy friendly by having non-food treats at your house. You can download a Teal Pumpkin sign here. 
  4. Take the candy if you don’t want to be impolite, but take it to an orthodontist participating in the Halloween Candy Buy Back program. I searched my ZIP code and found three locations nearby.

There are a lot of great things happening in the world of food allergies. ‘Specially for Children, which is affiliated with Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, is now a FARE site.  This means that kids who are at ‘Specially for Children can participate in research studies, like a peanut allergy study.

Austin school district, health officials warn parents about West Nile virus

Last night, we got this message from Austin Public Health and Austin Independent School District:

A batch of different types of mosquito breeds are seen after being collected by the City of Austin in 2016. AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In recent weeks, Austin Public Health has seen an increase in mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile Virus in the Austin area.

We’d like to remind you of symptoms and preventative steps because we know this is a time of year when families and students are spending a lot of time outdoors.

Most people infected with West Nile Virus do not have any signs or symptoms. However, if you do see symptoms such as fever, headache, tiredness, body aches or skin rash, seek medical attention.

Some preventative measures for your family are:

  • The best defense is with an EPA-approved insect repellent. Follow directions and apply as directed. epa.gov/insect-repellents
  • Stay inside when mosquitoes are active. For most mosquitoes in the U.S., activity peaks during the dusk hours.
  • If you have to be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants that are light colored. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors.
  • Drain any water that collects around your home. Mosquitoes need only a teaspoon of water to breed.

For more information on preventative measures, visit cdc.gov/features/StopMosquitoes/ or austintexas.gov/health.

We look forward to seeing everyone back at school Aug. 20.

Thank you,
City of Austin Health and Human Services and Austin ISD

This follows news that mosquitoes in Cedar Park tested positive for West Nile.

In July, Travis County was put on alert for one West Nile case.

RELATED: Five things to know about West Nile Virus

Looking for ideas on how to prevent mosquitoes? Last year we tested 16 repellents to see which ones worked best. Hint: DEET matters.

RELATED: Why do mosquitoes bite some people and not others?

 

Back to School: Plan ahead for tax-free weekend

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Tax-free weekend is coming. That’s the three days before school starts when you won’t have to pay sales tax on school supplies, clothing, diapers, shoes and more.

Before you go hog wild loading up your shopping cart, remember to ask yourself: Is this really a good deal?

Tax-free means you’re saving 08.25 percent and if that’s on top of already low sales prices, it could be a good deal. However, sometimes retailers will end a sale during tax-free weekend or they will wait until after it’s over to put something on sale. The real sale price can be the better deal.

The school supply aisle at Target won’t be this orderly much longer. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

Also know that when you’re shopping — especially if the kids are in tow —  things might end up in your basket that are taxable, not on sale and not a good deal.

What’s tax-free Aug. 10-12?

School supplies: Binders; backpacks and book bags; calculators; cellophane tape; blackboard chalk; compasses; composition books; crayons; erasers; folders — expandable, pocket, plastic and manila; glue; highlighters; index cards; index card boxes; legal pads; lunchboxes; markers (including dry-erase markers); notebooks; paper; pencil boxes and other school supply boxes; pencil sharpeners; pencils; pens; protractors; rulers; scissors; writing tablets.

Clothing: Most clothing; socks; most shoes; ties; coats; pajamas; swimsuits; uniforms; underwear; sports jerseys; sports hats.

Others: Adult and baby diapers.

What’s not tax-free?

Athletic items: Sports shoes like cleats or fishing boots; sports equipment; sports clothing only used for the purpose of a sport (so not jerseys, swimsuits, sweatpants and yoga pants).

Sewing items: Fabric, buttons and zippers.

Accessories: All accessories including jewelry and watches.

Bags: Purses; luggage; wallets and briefcases, or more than 10 backpacks.

Anything more than $100

RELATED: Which store has the best deals on school supplies?

 

Back to school: Teacher recommend doing these things right now

We asked Austin-area teachers to help us prepare for the upcoming school year. They offered advice for things to do before school begins:

Julian Knox, sixth-grader, and Emma Ocampo, second-grader, get ready for the first day of school.  LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Starting a new school? Check out when the transition camp might be. If you’ve missed it, call the school to see if there is another opportunity for you to walk the halls before school starts.

Read. Read as a family as well as read independently. Find books you love, but if they have a science or social studies-theme that can be helpful. If you know you’ll be studying U.S. history this school year, maybe find a fictional book based on an event in U.S. history. If you don’t love reading, consider putting the closed captioning on the TV and reading that.

Start putting the phones, tablets and video game systems away for longer periods of time. If you’ve been attached to electronics all summer long, time to break yourself of that habit.

Go on educational field trips. Check out the new downtown library. Go to the Thinkery or the Austin Nature & Science Center or the Science Mill.

RELATED: Eight fun things to do before school starts

Keep a journal. Write down what you did this summer before you forget. It can be an online journal or a physical one. Attach photos or drawings.

Rediscover math. Yes, we know you haven’t thought about math in two months, but try reviewing some math facts or find a math game to play. Kids can even test their parents to see if they know their times tables or how to subtract 25 from 57. Make it fun so it doesn’t feel like math. Do activities like make cookies to practice fractions.

Establish a routine again. If you haven’t been going to bed or getting up at school-time hours, start doing that again. It will help you not be as exhausted that first week — and when we say “you,” we mean both students and parents.

Check the school website’s calendar and announcements. That’s where schools will put up important information like Meet the Teacher, the plan for the first day, changes from last year and Back to School Night.

Attend the Meet the Teacher event as a family. It sets the tone that school is important and it lets teachers know that you’re active participants in it. You can even consider bringing the teacher flowers or another small acknowledgement.

RELATED: Things to ask at Meet the Teacher

Talk about the upcoming school year. Parents, be encouraging about what a great school year this is going to be. Build up how much fun your kids are going to have and some of the things they can look forward to. If kids have fears about the upcoming year, listen to them and help them plan how to deal with those scary things.

Go school supply shopping together. It helps get everyone excited. Even if kids share supplies with the rest of the class, a new backpack can be a fun find.

Reunite with school friends. It will help to build the excitement if you plan something fun with the friends you’ve been missing.

Sources: Inez Flores, Mills Elementary; Erica Green, Kiker Elementary; Juli Naranjo, Cowan Elementary; Beth Ann Cole, Boone Elementary; Lori Pearce, Fulmore Middle School; Nancy Stewart, Cedar Park Middle School; Katherine Ratcliffe, Kealing Middle School; Jo Patrick, Fulmore Middle School

Fill your weekend with fun, events to get ready for school, Aug. 3-5

School is lurking. Some of this weekend’s events are helping you directly get ready for school. Others keep the brain active, which is a good thing as we get closer and closer to the school bell ringing.

Check out our weekend calendar of fun family events in and around Austin:

 

Explore the Thinkery without your parents during Parents Night Out. RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2013

FRIDAY

Parents’ Night Out, 5:30-10 p.m. Friday. Kids must be 4 or older and potty-trained. $45 first child, $25 each additional sibling. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

Toybrary Austin. Henna Fridays. 10 a.m. Friday. $5. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane. toybraryaustin.com

Teen Videogame Free Play. 2 p.m. Friday, Central Library.

Music and Movement. 11 a.m. Friday, Old Quarry Branch.

Teen Book Club. “Uglies,” 10:30 a.m. Friday, Cepeda Branch.

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

Summer Stock Austin’s “Rob1n” musical by Allen Robertson and Damon Brown explores this possibility. 11 a.m.  Friday. 10 a.m. Saturday. $9-18. thelongcenter.org

FRIDAY-SUNDAY

Zilker Botanical Garden Woodland Faerie Trail. The trail is full of homes people have created for the fairies. It’s open through Aug. 10. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road. zilkergarden.org

Zilker Summer Musical “All Shook Up.” Zilker Summer Musical returns with the music of Elvis. 8:15 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays through Aug. 18. Free, but donations are welcome. Zilker Hillside Theatre, 2206 William Barton Drive. zilker.org

Summer Stock Austin’s “The Music Man.” 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Friday. 2 p.m. Sunday, Saturday. $26-33. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

“Beauty and the Beast” comes to the stage at Zach Theatre. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 2. $25-$150. Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org

Alamo Drafthouse Kids Club offers movies for a $1-$5 donation. Plus you can collect stamps for prizes. “Paddington 2.” 10 a.m. Friday 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Slaughter Lane. “Prince of Egypt.” 10 a.m. Friday-Sunday, Lakeline. Events: PBS Kids Back to School with “Daniel Tiger,” 10 a.m. Saturday, Slaughter Lane.  “Christopher Robin” Cereal Party. 10:20 a.m. Saturday, Lakeline. 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Mueller. drafthouse.com

Last year Bryan Mondragon, 7, yells for his mother and siblings to wait up as he packs his new backpack with more school supplies during the Austin Independent School District’s Back to School Bash. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2015

SATURDAY

AISD Back to School Bash. Get free backpacks and supplies, medical screenings and vaccinations with shot record, and haircuts and more. Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. Buses leave from Guerrero Thompson and Summitt elementary schools; Bedichek, Martin, Mendez and Covington middle schools; and Lanier and Reagan high schools. austinisd.org/bash

Heart screenings for student athletes. Call ahead at 512-478-3627, or visit StDavids.com/YoungHeart to schedule your screening. 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. Heart Hospital of Austin, 3801 N. Lamar Blvd.

Nordstrom and the Kindness Campaign Back to School Bash. See the fashion show, meet Enoughie and the magic mirror. Noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. $15 VIP tickets. Barton Creek Square. tkckindness.org

Hey Lolly Music Sing-Along. 10 a.m. Saturday. $3. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org

Thinkery. Baby Bloomers for children younger than 3. 9 a.m. Saturday. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

Dr. Kold. Watch what happens when you play with liquid nitrogen. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday. Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org

Toybrary Austin. Unicorn Swimming. Swim in the unicorn pool. 10 a.m. Saturday. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane. toybraryaustin.com

BookPeople. 10:30 a.m. story times. Shapes and Sizes, Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com

Barnes & Noble events. 11 a.m. Saturday story time. “Cece Loves Science.” barnesandnoble.com

SATURDAY-SUNDAY

Felt Food, for kids 4 and older. Learn to sew by making food out of felt. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday. $8.  Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

From top left, Jennifer and Kevin Miller react as their daughter, Laurel, 4, center, takes part in an inertia game at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

SUNDAY

Paramount Theatre’s summer series. “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” 1 p.m. Sunday. $6-$12. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org

Bullock MuseumFree First SundayFriendship. Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com

Austin Symphony Hartman Concerts in the Park. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Free. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org