Back To School Basics

COVER STORY | By Kassidi McKayla Kaminski –

The early morning alarm on the first day of school. Every parent knows that sound all too well and dreads its impending arrival (and trust me –  so do your kids). Between new schedules and kids of different ages, the transition from summer relaxation to the new school year can be rather complicated.  So, where’s the path of least resistance here?  Dr. Rebecca Deurlein, CEO of Teenager Success 101, and Tim Kaminski, director and owner of the Gingerbread Kids Academy, offer advice on how to ease children of all ages back into the routine of school and prepare them for the upcoming year.

Maintain a Schedule

“I’m a huge advocate of taking summer as a time of rest and relaxation. Kids need a break!” said  Deurlein of the summer months. However, she advises that teenagers not completely shut down during the summer. Instead, they need some sort of schedule – whether through a job, a camp or classes –  to reduce the shock value that comes from a new school schedule in August.

And that goes for the younger children as well.  “Maintaining a routine – a regular schedule – throughout the summer is crucial to getting your Pre-K and Kindergarten children ready for a successful school year,” said Kaminski.  “Getting up at the same time each morning and going to bed at the same time each night will dramatically help younger children adjust to a school schedule.”

Summer FUNdamentals

Keeping children busy and engaged in learning is another important factor. Summer is a perfect opportunity for a “summer bridge activity,” which is Deurlein’s term for a program that keeps a child intellectually engaged and progressing, whether that be through an art class, a reading program or a writing camp.  An example of a free “summer bridge activity” for a child could be his school’s required summer reading. “Don’t let your child wait until the end of the summer to finish their summer reading,” stressed Deurlein. “They won’t want their teacher’s first impression of them to be a rushed piece of work.”

The same principal holds true for younger children. “Continue practicing reading and math skills by doing fun summer activities geared specifically for younger children,” said Kaminski.  Local libraries are great resources for fun, free learning activities for younger children, and summer camps are also a way to keep children engaged. Pacing your child with scheduled activities through the summer months is a critical step in making the back-to-school mania a little less hectic.

Supplies for Success

School supplies are important at any age, but when it comes to teens, Deurlein highly recommends something easily downloadable to a teenager’s phone. “As your teenager moves up in high school, they’ll need to have more responsibility over their schedule, and organization starts with their cell phones.” It’s no secret that teenagers love their cell phones. Utilizing the Calendar application on their phone is a simple way to set up reminders for class, deadlines and appointments on a device they always have on hand. Other applications such as Outlook or ColorNote (a favorite of Deurlein’s) work well for organization. Additionally, Deurlein recommends that both parents and their teens familiarize themselves with the latest websites for homework help, such as Khan Academy, for academic success.

For younger children, Kaminski recommends arming them with comfort. “A favorite toy or object that fits into their backpack can help younger children assimilate to being in a new environment,” he shared. “Daily notes of encouragement from mom and dad can make children feel special and successful, and photos of family members can put a child at ease.”

Making certain that younger children know their personal information – such as their first and last name, where they live and the names and phone numbers of mom and dad – is also important. “Give younger children a list of basic contact information to keep in their backpack, and work with them to help them learn it for themselves before they go to school,” said Kaminski.  He adds that providing younger children a small calendar either at home or in their backpack so that they can mark off school days also helps them keep track of time during the week making them more comfortable knowing when the weekend time with family will be occurring.

Be Prepared

For high schoolers especially, Deurlein strongly recommends that the preparation for college and college applications begin freshman year. In an increasingly competitive society for academia, teens need all advantages. An easy way to tackle this in the summer months is to set your teen up with a mentor. “Teens aren’t always into listening to their parents when it comes to college but having an objective, outside party really helps,” shared Deurlein.  A mentor can help your teen set college goals and mediate his or her thoughts about college without the added pressure of a parent’s projections.

For younger children, preparation means practice and reassurance. “Young children need time to practice new routines,” shared Kaminski. “Over the summer is the perfect time to plan a visit to the new school prior to the first official day of school.”  Schools are open in the weeks prior to the first day of school and being familiar with a new environment can help ease fears.

“Constantly reassure your child who will be there in the afternoons to pick them up, or if they are riding the bus home, emphasize who will be there to greet them when they get off of the bus,” said Kaminski, who also likes to implement a “buddy system” for young children. “Find neighborhood friends near your child’s age who will also be going to the same school, and create a ‘buddy system’ where they can come and go to and from school together.”

First Day Jitters

When the anticipated first day of school finally arrives, Dr. Deurlein reminds parents to be cognizant of their child’s emotions. “For underclassmen, social acceptance is the hardest thing to overcome, in addition to general study skills and organization,” she noted. “For upperclassmen, this might be the first time they’ve really started to struggle in higher level classes.”

Establishing new relationships with both children and teachers also has an emotional impact on younger children. “Learning that they are now part of a group and understanding that there will be people they get along with and people that they struggle to get along with can be a new and unsettling experience for younger children,” shared Kaminski.

So, sign your kids up for that art camp. Take them to weekly sports practices.  Get them with a mentor, and browse the Internet for the latest educational tools. Then maybe that first day alarm won’t sound so harsh after all.

All of your Fort Bend ISD “back to school” questions can be answered by emailing AskFBISD@fortbendisd.com or by calling 281.634.1000. All of your Fort Bend ISD “back to school” questions can be answered by emailing AskFBISD@fortbendisd.com or by calling 281.634.1000.

School Savings

Tax-Free Weekend in Texas is August 11th – 13th.  The sale applies to four main categories – footwear, backpacks, school supplies and clothing –  and can be used for purchases in stores, online or by telephone.  On average, a shopper saves $8 on every $100 spent, so mark your calendars for this money-saving weekend!

Some tax-exempt school supplies include:

Pencils/Pens Hand Sanitizer Loose-Leaf Paper Lunchboxes
Spiral Notebooks Erasers Binders Highlighters
Crayons/Markers Glue Folders Rulers
Tissues Scissors Pencil Pouches Calculators

For more information on Texas Tax-Free Weekend,

visit https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/publications/98-490/


Get Ready, Get Set, Go – Back to School!

The first day of school for Fort Bend ISD students is Tuesday, August 22nd. The registration for the 2017-2018 school year is currently open for all grade levels. For more information, visit www.fortbendisd.com. To help get your kids “back to school ready,” below are some tips and resources:

Be Prepared:

Students can purchase school supplies before the first day of school, and show up ready to learn. For a list of school supplies for Fort Bend ISD elementary and middle school students, visit www.fortbendisd.com/Page/1055.

For the New Kids on the Block:

For more information on registering new students into Fort Bend ISD, including age requirements, required documents, bus routes, attendance zones and much more, visit www.fortbendisd.com/Page/85.

Making a Move:

For more information on student transfers at Fort Bend ISD, visit www.fortbendisd.com/Page/504