1. The Education Gradebook

Parents, check these tasks off your back-to-school list

A brand new school year starts next week, so like this mom, you might be rehearsing your bus stop happy dance.

Stop right now, thank you very much.

That happy dance will be a whole lot more fulfilling if you take a moment between daydreams of quiet, coffee-filled mornings and uninterrupted afternoons to run down this back-to-school parent preparedness checklist.


• Remind your kids to dust off that pesky alarm clock they've abandoned for the last three months. Getting an early morning routine started now — for you and your student — will make the first day of school run more smoothly. It starts with an earlier bedtime. Less grump, more excitement.

• Food: plan ahead. Gone are the summer days of casual snacking and come-as-you-please refrigerator grazing. With a new school year comes new eating patterns on-the-go breakfasts, packed lunches and easy-to-plan dinners — that fit around all your evening activities. And don't forget the all-important after-school snack.

• If your kid isn't into riding the big yellow bus, be sure to nail down your carpool arrangements or map out their walking route to school ahead of time. Nobody wants to be the late — or lost — kid on the first day. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reminds motorists and parents to be aware of traffic safety in school zones, especially in intersections and crosswalks.

• You can't walk into a Target or Walmart without running into one of their large back-to-school signs, but don't forget to stock your kid up with new supplies for the new year. For that snazzy first day outfit, visit one of several stores in the Tampa Bay area that are selling clothes at discounted prices or giving them away for free.

• There is a litany of immunizations Florida students need before starting school. Visit the Times' 2015 back-to-school guide for a full list of what is required in your county.

• Alas, the great TV debate. There's nothing wrong with munching on that after-school snack with a side of television, but get in the habit of limiting couch time. Homework will soon take precedence, and starting to wean TV time now will only make your life easier.

Times' education editor Tom Tobin offers more "timeless tips" for getting back into the swing of things here.