It is time for back to school, Houston! This time can be some of the most exciting and stressful times of the year. Especially these days when every day at school is not guaranteed – will we stay in person? Will virtual rear its ugly head? Who is ready to skip back to school and start homeschooling?!
Kids have a lot to look forward to. They get to see friends again, maybe start at a new and unknown place, and (not to mention) new clothes, and shoes, and binders – oh, my! However, from the parents’ side, it is the “return of the routine.” Running with your kids (and breaking up bickering) all summer is great but so is the reliability of bedtime and knowing how to schedule each day.
Now you have to prep to make sure backpacks are ready and lunches are made and kids are in bed on time. So, as they said in the eighties, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have. The facts of life,…” And, that’s it we’re all just aiming for that sweet spot of just enough and not too much.
In an effort to be a very useful website here is your
Guide for Back to School Houston 2023!
- School Start Dates
- Registration and Immunizations
- Return of the Routine
- Top Nine Back to School Tips
- Things College Students Need…and, 5 to Skip
When to Go – School Start Dates (for students):
Registration & Immunizations
You will feel better having all of this done in advance, but not to worry your school district has to take your kiddo even if you enroll in on the first day of school (or the 13th). The benefits of early registration are many. First, the school will be ready for your child. Meaning they will have had time to get records in order and put them in the best environment for their back to school 2022 success.
When you show up after school has started your child will likely just be put in a class until all that is sorted out. Which, means if many people are doing this (and they do) that the first week or so of school can see some bloated classes which leads to a downtime in teaching and activities and stressed teachers (you would be a little stressed too if your class kept getting interrupted and eventually you had more students than desks).
To enroll most schools will require you to bring:
- Proof of your child’s age and identity (birth certificate & Social Security Card),
- Proof of your identity and residential address (driver’s license and utility bill), and
- A record of your child’s current immunizations signed by a doctor (many schools will let you enroll and give you a 30-day window to get these done).
- If transferring, a transcript or report card from last school attended.
Immunizations can be a bit of a hot topic but for most children, this is the right thing to do. The perceived dangers of vaccines drop significantly past toddlerhood so once your child is school ready it’s a great time to get caught up if you’ve previously used a relaxed schedule.
We live in an international city there are people coming and going from all over the globe and who knows where your apple came from? When you put people together they get sick and sickness spreads rapidly. Don’t rely on the health of other children to protect your child. In many cases, the disease is much worse than the side effect. And, many of those dangers are well past by the time your child reaches grade school.
If you are still on the fence know you do not have to get all of the vaccines or get them all on the schedule provided. You can do one or two at a time or just get the Texas Minimum State Vaccine Requirements for Student K-12. If you are still not going to do it you must qualify for an Exemption.
Low Cost or Free Immunization Opportunities
- Various dates citywide – Harris Health’s monthly calendar
- Various dates citywide – Texas Childrens’ Mobile Clinic monthly calendar
- March – Texas Children’s Health Fairs
- May 20 – Alief Community Health Fair
- June 27 – Harris Helath at Steve Radack Community Center
- June 27 – Community Health Expo
- July 22 – GPCO Health-Fair & Back -2- School Event (Pre Registration required)
- July 27, 28, 30 – Immunization Clinics (Humble)
- On hold in Houston – Care Van (Spring Branch)
Back to School Houston 2023 – Supplies
Back to school supply shopping can be easy – just pick up the package from your local store that has partnered with the school district – or buy directly from your school or PTO. However, this is one of those categories that the “I Wants” shine brightly because every store has new and colorful supplies on display and as far as things-our-kids-beg-for go, school supplies can be an affordable splurge.
Always get your list items first and follow those instructions to a ‘T’ – even if you think it stupid that Mrs. Smith only wants chartreuse folders just buy the chartreuse folder. I guarantee you Mrs. Smith has a reason or a mandate and she is a little stressed trying to put together a great year for your kids.
If you find the most amazing chartreuse folder that will cause your child to bloom and grow then either write their name on it or just talk to Mrs. Smith and explain that when she gets a pile of chartreuse folders you would really appreciate it if your child could use the one you bought.
Teachers are people and most have children and will pick up what you are putting down. And, I promise, they will appreciate the talk over a steaming parent that they have to deal with for a year because they inadvertently angered them over a chartreuse folder.
If you need a little help with school supplies this year, check out a couple of these options:
- 26th Annual Back to School Supply Giveaway sponsored by the Morales Memorial Foundation – August 5th
- United Way Free School Supply Resources – Many dates and foundations participate citywide; some require registration beginning in June – distribution is usually August
- Life After Life Free Bck to School Backpack Giveaway – June 24
- GPCO Health-Fair & Back -2- School Event (Pre Registration required) – July 22
- Back 2 School Giveaway Health Fair – August 5
- Mayor’s Back to School Fest – August 5
- Back To School-Health & Wellness JamFest – August 19
- HISD Community Resource Guide – search the topic ‘Back to School Supplies’
Texas Sales Tax Holiday
- Shop for back to school 2022 in Houston on August 11-13th, 2023
- The law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced less than $100 from sales and use taxes.
Fun & Useful Supplies
After you get those items if you have some room in the budget these were the most fun and/or useful and unique school supplies we found for this school year.
Does anyone else like the smell of freshly sharpened pencils in August???
Liquid Motion Bubbler Pens | Aside from being super cool they write like regular pens, can be used as stress/ anxiety relief, and a timer.
Popping Bubble Sensory Fidget Toys | They are already among us might as well have fun with them!
Cocoon GRID-IT Organizer | Originally designed to keep cords and whatnot it can be used for loads of things and it’s about the size of an iPad.
Customizable Allergy Wristband – better safe than relying on a page in a file!
No Tie Shoelaces – Whether your child can tie laces or not these are fun and easy for everyone!
No-Iron Clothing Labels – These are great, they are washer and dryer safe and you can just write on them with a permanent marker and stick them on.
Protective Cable Covers – They are great for identifying whose charge is whose and keeping the cord from breaking.
Lap Desk – If there is one thing we learned last year is that everyone needs to be prepared to work from home with very little notice. And, we all need our own space to get that work done.
Refillable Hand Sanitizer Bottles – Pandemic or no, clean hands help stop spread illnesses and are a great hygiene habit.
Return of the Routine
School start times can be as early as 7:15 am. That, of course, excludes time for getting up, dressed, fed, packed, actually getting there, catching buses, or going in early for sports. The routine is paramount. This time of year can make kids anxious – schedules and expectations will reduce back to school anxiety.
Experts recommend school-aged children get 9-11 hours of sleep. Teenagers need 8-10 hours. And, everyone needs at least 7 hours. Which means bedtime for the average elementary aged child should be around 8 pm. This can be hard because sunset is usually after that, but it is definitely better than a morning fusspot.
A couple of weeks is ideal to learn a new routine but even a few days will help out. Get back in the habit of waking kids up, getting dressed (as opposed to lounging in jammies all morning), and eating a healthful breakfast.
And, remember, you do not have to do it all by yourself! Kids can be taught to get their backpacks ready, dress themselves, eat breakfast, and even fix their own lunches (yes, really).
If all this seems overwhelming and too much prep you can always homeschool! ?(Spoiler alert: routines still help and there’s organization required there too!)