The start of the school year is still weeks away, and no doubt most of us are reluctant to give up those lazy summer days.
But a little preparation now can go a long way toward saving some time and money. Tackling a few of the following tasks here and there — and having the kids participate, too — can also help ease the transition and set a successful and more pleasant tone for the entire family.
Here are some items for your checklist:
• Make sure your child is up-to-date on immunizations and school physicals. If your child needs to have any medication administered during the school day, be sure to call ahead to get that required physician's note.
• Take stock of all the school supplies you already have on hand: leftover paper, markers, pens, pencils, scissors, crayons, folders. Check the batteries in the calculator, wash the lunch box out, and if you haven't already, clean out the backpack that might still be filled with the remnants of the past school year.
• Do the same for clothing and shoes. Sort out your child's closet and dresser drawers to see what can be used this year. See what your kids have grown out of as well as what should be tossed out, passed on to others or donated to local thrift stores.
• If you haven't already, create a handy and organized space to store school supplies so you won't be caught off guard when the filler paper runs out come homework time. A bookshelf or open bin rack placed in a closet works wonderfully. Leave room for items that you know you will be purchasing in the future.
• While you're at it, create a quiet, well-lit study area that's away from the television and stocked with homework items such as pencils, pens, paper, a dictionary and a ruler.
• Find a place for your child to hang a backpack, sweater, jacket, musical instrument, umbrella or anything they might need to grab in a hurry on their way out the door on a busy school morning.
• Peruse the weekly sales and start shopping for school supplies and clothing items you know you will need: filler and computer paper, pocket folders, computer printer ink, poster board (for future projects), nap mats, sneakers, socks. Remember you live in warm, sunny Florida, so you should fight the urge to shop for the pricier "fall clothing" items that will be marked down after the start of the school year.
• If you have little ones, get out the permanent marker and label clothing, backpacks and lunch boxes.
• Create a calendar — a dry erase calendar or regular calendar hung on a door or the fridge will work fine — so you can post upcoming assignments, open houses, dental and doctor appointments and other extra-curricular activities.
• Purchase a file box or create your own out of a recycled box to store your child's completed school papers. This is a good way to keep track of completed and graded assignments as well as your child's progress throughout the year.
• If you haven't already, get your child a library card. Make a visit and check out some books. Think "back to school," Florida Sunshine State Readers and books that are of general interest to them.
• Don't let them wait till the last minute! Make sure your child is working toward completing any school work that was assigned over the summer and will be due during the first week of school.
• Contact any friends or family members who might be asked to pick up your child in case of an emergency to see if there is any change. Gather those emergency contact numbers, your child's student number (if they have been assigned one) and write them down on a small index card. Make extra copies for you and your child so you will have them handy come orientation day. Post one on the fridge or by your home telephone so they can be found in a hurry.
• Program your cell phone (and your child's) with any necessary telephone numbers: your child's school and friends, the transportation department, the doctor, your work telephone numbers, and so on.