Tag Archives: back to school

SantaRosaMom.com recap 8/18

The Taz and friends on their first day of school. Photo courtesy of the beautiful Claudine.

Hello all you moms and dads! Are you surviving school week? By now, almost all schools are in session. As one mom put it, “My vacation has finally started!” Whether you’re celebrating because the kids are back at school or missing your little crumbgrinder, there’s plenty of school related stuff and more going on at SantaRosaMom.com.

Be prepared for school
Goodbye lazy days, hello crazy-hectic days of the school year. The only sure way of avoiding the tailspin of carpools, sports, homework, signed papers, notes home, and what to pack for school lunch, you need a plan. Here are some of the things that have worked for me, and will also work for you if made a habit early on.

Backpack Charity Event
School supplies are expensive, right? Well for some students, the price of these supplies is downright overwhelming. Threads for Teens, the program created by 15 year old Allyson Ahlstrom, is accepting donations of supplies and money to give backpacks to teens from underprivileged homes. Read all about it and consider your own donation to this cause.
Note: If you’re still shopping for school supplies for your child, here is a list of supplies you should NOT be buying for them.

First Day of School Photos!
I’m looking for your photos! Did you get a photo of your child on their first day of school? Share them in our photo gallery! Upload your photo and tag them “school” to be included in our Back to School photo album. And be sure to check out some more photos of the first day in the Press Democrat photo gallery.

Calling all adorable toddlers!
Cupcake, the store for kid, baby, and maternity fashions, is looking for adorable kids to model their clothing for their fall season photo shoot. And they are holding a casting call to find the next Cupcake kids! If you have a child between 12 months and 8 years, read up on how to enter them. Who knows? Your child may be a star!

Being noticed
How many times have you felt totally invisible in a crowd of people? Little do we know, this might also be happening in our own household. With all the busy-ness that goes on throughout the day, it’s easy for us to not spend an ounce of quality time with our kids – or even give them an encouraging word.
What if we could change all that?

Upcoming Events
Lots of events are coming up that will be great fun or a valuable resource for your child. Whole Foods has several seminars on Gluten Free living, curbing headaches, and more. The Petaluma Library is in the midst of their library sale. The 3rd annual Treasure Hunt will be scavenging Petaluma this Saturday. And Just Between Friends (the consignment sale for young families) will be holding a seminar to teach how you can consign and make some serious cash. Check them out on our Events page.

Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you in the forums!

Crissi Dillon

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School supplies you shouldn't buy

School shopping can be more expensive than the holidays. And the stores are getting into it full force, practically since summer vacation began! With the major push for back-to-school sales at the stores, it’s possible you’ll actually spend more than you save. But while your child will need to fill their supply lists in preparation for the start of school, there are some things you should cross off your list before you even buy them.

Crayons, markers, pencils
If you’re like me, you have a whole box full of art supplies. So why are you buying brand new crayons, markers, or other desk supplies? Before heading to the local office supply store, check through your art supplies. Pens that still have ink, unbroken crayons, and anything else that seems decent enough for everyday use are perfectly acceptable as part of your child’s back-to-school package.

Book covers
My personal opinion is that book covers are a huge waste of money. I can never get them to fit properly. But more than that, why spend money on a decorated book cover when you can make your own? In our house we repurpose all those paper shopping bags we get at the store by wrapping our books with them. Then the kids can decorate them on their own to showcase their style and character. And if they have a need to doodle while in class, these book covers create the perfect outlet.

New clothes
If you didn’t already know, let me be the one to tell you: Your child does not need a brand new wardrobe just because school is starting. Sure, they probably need a few new items here and there. But in no way are you expected to go broke so your child’s closet is filled to the max with new duds. Check through their clothing and replace only the items they’ve outgrown or are getting threadbare. Another way our family has saved money on school shopping? We shop the secondhand stores like Plato’s Closet (1914 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa) that hold trendy but gently-used clothing for much less than the department stores.

Lunch box or backpack
These are two items your kid won’t grow out of. So why do they need a new one ever year? Do the zippers still work on the backpack, and is it free from holes? Is the lunchbox still capable of closing and free from last year’s lunch? Then it’s totally acceptable for this year as well. Of course, it might be harder to convince your 4th grader to take last year’s backpack or lunchbox if they’re covered in the cartoon characters they loved in 3rd grade. So if you must buy new, go for something a little plainer that can be carried around even as their tastes in style and interest changes.

Alarm clock
Yes, your child needs to wake up. But in this age of technology, the alarm clock is going the way of the Dodo Bird and the wristwatch. Why do they need a separate alarm clock if they already have an MP3 player or cell phone that does the same thing?

Be sure to check out some of the tips in the SantaRosaMom.com forums on DEALS we’ve discovered in the stores during Back-to-School shopping. And if you’ve discovered some deals of your own, pass them along!

Getting Back into the School Routine

It’s the time of year when kids cringe and parents jump for joy. Gone are the days of going to bed late and waking up around noon. No more video games for 4 hours straight, knocking on friends’ doors all day long to see if they can play, and seeing if it actually is possible that pajamas will stick to their skin if they wear them for a week without changing. It’s when your child, who has been looking at you for months through shaggy uncombed locks, suddenly looks like a shiny new kid with a haircut and unwrinkled clothing, a new backpack slung over their shoulder…and a scowl on their face.

I can’t promise you that the scowl will disappear completely. But I can guarantee that, in most cases, it does get better. And, with the help of some local moms and teachers, I have compiled a list of some definite DO’s to help get your child on track in the transition from the lazy days of summer to the busy days of school.

The first, and most important, is to set a bedtime and stick with it. Caren McLerran, a kindergarten teacher at R. L. Stevens Elementary, suggests that routine is vital when it comes to bedtime. “Begin early enough to get ready and have a settle down time to read a story. It should be consistent every school night. Children thrive on routine.”

On that note, reading to your elementary kids is an extremely vital part of a kids’ development. I admit it, I have gotten out of practice when it comes to reading to my kids now that they are at an age where they can read by themselves. Problem is, kids don’t always read on their own time. But there are reasons why kids need to be read to. It helps them to be able to hear more carefully the emotions involved in reading so that they can read the same way on their own. And Caren gave a point that I had never thought of, to use reading as an opportunity to “discuss the story and ask them to make predictions. Talk about the plot, the characters, the setting, and the problem and resolution. Ask what they liked or disliked and why. It’s important to stretch those summer-mode attention spans and re-spark those higher order thinking skills.”

Timeliness is another important factor, and it sets the tone for the day. It’s those extra few moments spent at home that can determine whether your child will be there on time, or if they will have to get a tardy slip. And being tardy not only reflects on your child’s school performance, it is incredibly disruptive to the class. The teacher must catch the tardy student up to speed while the rest of the class must wait. Santa Rosa mom, Kari Cagle, came up with a simple solution. She has her daughter, Kassidy, “put her outfit out the night before and pack up her backpack and homework the night before as well.” You can even go one step further and have the kids plan out their lunches, and pack as much as they can the night before. This way they aren’t wasting time standing in front of the refrigerator trying to decide what to eat. It also helps to have a lunch meal plan for the week, easily accessible on the refrigerator so that there is no guesswork involved.

Ask any teacher what their number one hope for every student is, and organization will be at the top of the list. Kari told me, “One thing we always do is restock her home supplies as well as her school supplies. It’s always a good idea to get them excited about homework. New fun things like new pens, pencils, color pencils, crayons, erasers and other supplies seems to get my girl in the mood to do homework. There’s nothing like breaking in a new crayon!” Another important tip is to “make up a homework kit,” Caren McLerran offered. “Have all of the pencils, erasers, crayons, scissors, glue, paper and folders that they will need for the year. Get a container to put the supplies in and figure out a quiet spot that will be designated as the “homework spot”. This way when they actually start getting homework they’ll be ready to hit the ground running. Homework should be done early and not right before bed when our brains are sleepy.”

High school teacher, Jessica Dennis, gave a different view, “Since I’m a high school teacher, it’s a little different, I suppose, because we treat students like mini-adults. You know, school is their “job” so once summer is over, they’re back on the clock, so to speak, and we simply expect them to start being responsible. Organization is obviously important, so it’s vital to have all the school supplies ready to go early on….but with high schoolers, they need to do it themselves, so parents shouldn’t dictate an organization system, but rather work with kids to develop one that works for them individually. Not all students can have immaculate binders, and not all kids can use a daily planner.”

In my family, the one item we cannot do without is our dry erase calendar. Listed on that calendar is every single thing we are doing each month. The kids know where we need to be at any given time, and that takes the surprise out of it. It helps them to prepare for the day, and to know what’s going on for tomorrow. If they have soccer practice the next day, they know that they are going to need a clean uniform and will have to locate their gear. If they have a book report or a project due, it is listed on the calendar so they can be aware of the date every day, and work towards being done by the due date.

Perhaps one of the most important tips is YOUR involvement in your child’s school life. Parents, even junior high and high school parents, need to keep involved at the school. It is important to meet and keep in contact with your child’s teachers, go to the PTA meetings, and attend Open House and Back to School night. To better understand your child’s workload, check your student’s planner and homework lists every night, and look at their homework. There will come a time when the work they are doing will surpass even your knowledge, but you can at least be familiar with what they are expected to learn. “The advice I’d have for my parents is to be excited for school to start, and to share that excitement with the kids,” Jessica Dennis said. “Talk about what this year is going to hold, and discuss ways your kids can get involved in the school community, whether through sports or clubs or other activities. A student who is “plugged in” will always be more successful than one who feels like they’re just going through the motions.”

It’s not like school is a kid’s favorite place to be. And no wonder when they have to break free from waking up in the afternoon and beating their high score on Guitar Hero. But with a little prompting and a lot of organization, school won’t be faced with feelings of dread. And this school year could be your child’s best year ever.

(See a version of this article in today’s Sonoma Living section of the Press Democrat)


Have more tips on getting back into the school routine?  Share them here, or on the forums at SantaRosaMom.com.

Back to School Supplies

School is right around the corner, and there only a few more shopping days left to get your child prepared for the school year. Here are the links to the Santa Rosa’s different school districts’ general websites:

Bellevue Union School District

Bennett Valley Union School District

Mark West Union School District

Oak Grove School District

Piner-Olivet Union School District

Rincon Valley Union School District

Roseland School District

Santa Rosa City Schools

Wright School

All schools in Sonoma County can be found at the website for the Sonoma County Office of Education.

This is a sample of the lists that schools are putting out there so that your child is well prepared for the start of school, courtesy of BVUSD.

8 broad-tip Crayola
Classic markers
8 thin-tip Crayola
Classic markers
12 Crayola colored pencils
12 glue sticks (no purple)
1 set of 8 Crayola
Watercolor paints
1 box of 16 regular
Crayola crayons
For the classroom:
1 magic scotch tape (Last name A to H)
1 bottle of pump hand sanitizer (Last name: H to N)
1 box unscented wipes (Last name: O-Z)
1 box Kleenex tissue
Special Note:
Please do not label these with your child’s name as they will be community classroom supplies.

First Grade
Markers—Crayola or Rose Art Brands — Broad-tipped (10 pack)
Markers—Crayola or Rose Art Brands — Narrow-tipped (10 pack)
Gluesticks—3 large (1.41 oz.) —white only— Ross, UHU, or Scotch brand. No colored glue.
Crayons—24 pack—Crayola Twistables (No colored pencils)
2 thick, black, low odor dry erase markers
Erasers—3 large white erasers
Special Note:
Please do not label any of the items. We will have pencil boxes on each desk that will house this equipment. Please do not send any items that are not on the list. We have limited storage space in our classrooms and the student’s desks are too small to house any additional supplies.

Second Grade
Broad Tipped Crayola
Markers-8 or 10 pack (regular colors only)
Fine Tipped Crayola Markers – 8 or 10 pack (regular colors only)
Crayola Colored pencils – 24 count
Crayola or Prang
Crayons-16 or 24 count (not Twistables)
12 No. 2 Pencils – sharpened please!
2 Gluesticks- please no oversized gluesticks.
Backpack – large enough to carry H.W. folders and library books to and from school.
For the classroom:
Additional donations are always welcome!
One ream of 81/2”x11” white copy paper.
One LARGE box of Kleenex.
Special Note:
Please do not send pencil boxes or binders. Please send a note on the first day of school describing your child’s after school routines (which bus your child takes, car pick up, YMCA, Brownies, etc…)

Third Grade
1 small snap top pencil box (5x8inches) that will hold all your supplies in your desk
Felt tip water-based markers (thin or fat tipped)
Color Pencils
2 Large Glue Sticks
#2 pencils
Fine tip and Ultra Fine tip black Sharpie markers
Scissors (7”-8” work best, no longer than 8 inches)
For the classroom:
1 large box Kleenex tissue
1 package of baby wipes or hand sanitizing wipes
Special Note:
Please do not bring the following items to school:
Mechanical pencils, any pencil sharpeners, correction fluid (“whiteout”)in any form, post-it notes, milky pens or fancy art supplies, other folders or binders.

Fourth Grade
One 8×5 (no larger) box that will hold your supplies in your desk
2 boxes of pencils
3 yellow highlighters
4 blue/black Expo dry erase markers
1 clean old sock
12 colored pencils
2 large erasers
2 large stretch book covers
1 small stretch book cover
16 count crayons
1 pkg of 12 fine tip markers
1 pkg of 12 broad tip markers
2 large glue sticks.
2 barrel pencil sharpeners
For the classroom:
2 unopened pkgs. of wide ruled binder paper
2 large boxes of Kleenex
Special Note:
Note that some of these items will be shared with the entire class, please do not label with your child’s name.

Fifth Grade
1 hard cover binder (1 to 1.5 inches) Cloth covered binders, or binders larger than 1.5 inches will not fit in your desk.
Binder dividers – 5 minimum
1 pocket folder in binder for homework
2 barrel Pencil sharpeners
1 box of 12 regular pencils
1 pack of 4 black, thick, low odor dry erase markers (chisel point)
1 clean old sock
1 small Box or Pouch that will hold all your supplies in your desk
1 set of 12 colored pencils
1 jumbo glue stick
a wooden ruler with metric and Customary measurements
For the classroom:
2 large boxes of Kleenex
3 pkgs. of wide ruled binder paper-100 count

Sixth Grade
1″ – 1 ½” hard cover binder with inside pocket (no zippered binders) zippered pencil pouch for binder
5 tab dividers for binder
12 #2 pre-sharpened pencils (no mechanical pencils)
1 large eraser
Barrel pencil sharpener
1 pink, 1 blue, and 1 yellow highlighters
1 four color pen (red, blue, green & black)
1 black Papermate Flair felt tip pen*
2 black dry erase markers*
1 white board eraser or clean old sock
1 large glue stick*
6 stretch book covers (3 extra large, 1 large, 2 small)
Shoebox lid
For the classroom:
2 pkgs. wide ruled binder filler paper (unopened)
1 large box Kleenex*
Colored pencils
Washable felt tip markers
* may need to re-supply


Know of any killer Back to School shopping deals?  Share them on the forums at SantaRosaMom.com!