If you’re a Mom of an incoming Kindergarten student, these tips are for you
We feel you Mama, that is why we are writing this blog for those of you who have kids starting kindergarten, specifically in local ISD public schools including Plano ISD.
We hope that the pointers below will help you with the Back to School process and your kid navigate their first year at Kindergarten with ease.
Kindergarten is your child’s introduction to the school that they might be attending for a long time, so we all want the start to be a positive experience!
Let’s look at what you need to enroll your incoming Kindergarten child:
The child must be 5 yr old on September 1 to start Kindergarten. This is what you need for enrollment
- Student’s birth certificate
- Updated Immunization Records
- Student’s social security card (optional)
- Proof of residency (lease, gas, or electric bill)
- Parent/guardian photo ID
When you get everything submitted you then need to prepare for your kindergarten kid’s school needs. You may first talk to your kid and reassure them that everything is going to be alright and it is going to be fun with new friends.
You can also start sharing what to expect and what it is like to be in a “big school” like who the teacher is, what will be the daily routine etc.
Here are a few of the important things to prepare:
Let’s talk School Supplies
All schools provide a recommended supply list that may vary from grade to grade, school to school, and teacher to teacher.
And most of the schools sell it in a package via each school’s PTA that can save both Kindergarten parents and teachers time and money.
The right size backpack is also essential for your Kindergarten student. As your child gets older, they’ll need a bigger backpack to carry folders, books and other essentials, in addition to a lunchbox and water bottle.
The popular stores and brands for Backpacks are:
- Pottery Barn Kids
- Under Armour
Good quality backpacks can last 2-3 years!
Here in Texas, we have a tax-free weekend event for back-to-school shopping (Shhh… kindergarten mommies you may even get a few items for yourself) and it usually lies at the end of the first week of August. So, make sure you have it on your calendar so you can plan ahead.
You can save some money when you spend some time checking prices at various stores and save time if you can buy it online. Our favorite stores for school supplies are Walmart, Target, Office Max as well as all regular grocery stores.
Get the right School clothes
We all know that Kindergarten kids grow so fast, and if you overshop, you will end up with so many unworn clothes in the closet. Before you get carried away with shopping for cool stuff, check if the school has dress code requirements.
A dress code is typically imposed at most schools that don’t have a uniform; here is the Plano ISD dress code.
You should also check if there are any specific workout clothing and shoes for the gym or physical education, sometimes needing branded t-shirts with the school logo at middle school, which you can purchase via the PTA. For girls who like to wear sandals, be sure to provide tennis shoes for PE too.
Check your Kindergarten kid’s closet and create a list of what is needed. In the end, your kid really just needs outfits that make them feel comfortable and look good.
What do local Moms suggest?
Backpacks! Be sure to get a full-sized backpack. This way they can fit all of their items in it easily.
ALWAYS pack a full extra outfit in your child’s backpack- socks and all.
Even though your child has never had an accident… you never know!! And it is so much easier to quickly sneak that bag into the bathroom without anyone knowing than calling the office and interrupting you at work to bring clothes.
If your child cannot independently button their pants, use stretchy pants. For one, they are more comfortable 😉 and two they won’t have any issues in the potty!
For shoes, Velcro is best!
Last year we did a solid amount of target, some Kohls, and some old navy – leggings and T-shirt’s were (and still are) her jam.
This year we’re hitting Justice and Target for tax-free weekend. She was introduced to the Justice kool-aid in Kinder.
Must wear rubber souled shoes for gym class that is 4x a week. Girls must have shorts under their dresses.
There really isn’t much to worry about for elementary school
School lunch is free this year. In first grade, you will also send them with a snack. You will get their schedule from the teacher when school sta specific workout clothing and shoes for gym. They will have recess after lunch.
If you are interested in the bus you can look up the route to see what time the bus picks up/drops off. I find the bus to be too early in the morning so mine only takes the bus home. They have PE most days so rubber soles shoes are needed.
There will most likely not be a place to park to walk them so it’s either bus or carpool line. On nice days I’ll walk her to the building. On those days we park across the street in the neighborhoo
Let’s talk about School Lunch
PISD Advisory: In accordance with United States Department of Agriculture guidance, Plano ISD will offer all students access to free breakfast and lunch every school day during the 2021-22 academic year, regardless of household income. No application or eligibility determination process is required for a student to receive free meals this school year, the income eligibility requirement will likely resume in the 2022-2023 school year. A la carte items will be available for purchase.
So, make sure to check the school if you still need to add money to their account.
Although breakfast and lunch meals may be subsidized it does not include extra drinks or snacks. However, if you want to send your kid food for lunch, you need to practice at home.
Also start giving your Kindergarten kids simple instructions on how to open the lunchbox, the packaging of any meals, show your child how to open juice boxes etc. While it might sound silly, this practice actually helps a lot.
Take note that most schools only have 30mins lunch break so be sure to train your child to eat quickly (many spend their break chatting and don’t finish their lunch).
If your child has an allergy, usually, they can sit at a separate table in the cafeteria.
Have your child practice eating their “school lunch.” Actually pack them a lunch, set a timer for 20 mins and have them practice eating and opening their things independently. My FAVORITE lunchbox is the Bentgo boxes. So easy peasy for them!!
We use the Contigo kids water bottles. They are easy to clean and don’t leak.
We just got these from Amazon and love it! Simple Modern 14oz Summit Kids Water Bottle Thermos with Straw Lid – Dishwasher Safe Vacuum Insulated Double Wall Tumbler Travel Cup 18/8 Stainless Steel – Fox and The Flow
Get a bento style box, like a Yumbox, PlanetBox, etc. The box will go into an insulated lunch bag with (usually) a thin ice pack. Most insulated lunch bags will have space for a juice box or a small water bottle. Don’t count on them remembering to bring a separate water bottle to lunch or to bring it back to the classroom if they do.
I also always keep a hand sanitizer or hand wipes in there bcs I also don’t count on them to wash hands before eating. Usually you’ll also pack a separate snack. You’d want to put that in a completely different box as it will be stored separately and eaten at a different time.
Snacks differ by teacher/school so wait to get anything for that until you hear from the teacher.
PASAR or After School Care
If you live in Plano and your Kindergarten student goes to PISD, PASAR is there to help.
The Plano ISD elementary afterschool care program provides a safe, positive environment for students enrolled in the program. The students can work on their homework and join some fun recreational activities.
Other After School Care recommendations from Plano Moms:
Depending on which school you’re at, there will be different options close by.
Children’s Ark does after school pick up, I would just call and check on your specific school. They were my back up but thankfully we got into Pasar at our school.
There are after-school programs at Boys and Girls Club. The prices are good and they pick up from some schools.
Children’s Learning Adventure picks up from a bunch of PISD schools. Primrose does also.
Your daughter’s school might be able to give you the list of daycares that pick up kids at the school. I’ve seen Children’s Learning Adventure, Primrose Schools, The Learning Experience, Legacy Learning Center. I believe there are more.
The weekday program at First United Methodist picks up from some schools as well.
Check the nearby daycares (preschools, Montessori schools) that pick up from your Elementary school; they have shuttles. Some have afterschool programs that are not much more expensive than PASAR and slightly better evening hours.
Transportation for Kindergarten Kids
Riding the Bus
For PISD kids, check bus eligibility here. And if you are eligible, you need to decide if this is a good choice for your Kindergarten kid and if your 5-6 yr old can handle this new mature experience. You definitely need to prepare yourself or the family for what will happen before, during, and after each bus ride.
I am a PISD bus driver and I assure you we take every precaution to protect your little ones. Many of the buses have belts. We do not let the littles off the bus when dropping off after school until we see parents/family members come meet the kids. We take every precaution for safety. Kinders and even my first graders are in the front with me. I talk to them the whole ride and I can see them because they are up front with me.
They love riding the bus!
Carpool Drop off & Pick-Up
Carpool information drop-off and pick-up are typically disseminated through email. Make sure you ask the teacher during the “meet the teacher” if you have questions.
However, there should be a carpool guideline and usually a map which the school can provide, and it should be easy to follow.
When the kids are a bit older, they can walk to school without you.
Do NOT get out of your car in the carpool line! Teach your child to get themselves and their crap out of the car( yea they can do it) or park and Walk them in! Don’t get out and block the whole line.
If you have 3 kids, teach them ALL to get out or walk them in!
Volunteering at School
Volunteering at your kid’s school is one way to show your support and a great way to show your kid that you are taking a great deal of their education. The school relies on volunteers for some school activities, and they will surely appreciate your time.
You can volunteer for your kid’s classroom, join the PTA or volunteer during social events.
You need to fill out ALL the volunteer paperwork, PTA, and clearances up front. That way when there’s something you want to help with, you’ll already be set up. It makes it feel less like you are dropping your kid off at a secure government facility.
Meet the Teacher
Meet the teacher is exciting since it is the first time you and your kid get to meet the teacher. This is usually when you receive important information like a class schedule, class rules, breakfast/lunch information, etc. This is your chance to ask all the questions you may have. The PISD “Meet the teacher” session is typically the day or two before school starts.
They will release teacher info on the portal like the day before but your school FB page/website should announce those dates ahead of time.
And, the best way to avoid misunderstandings with teachers is to have a clear line of communication from the beginning. So, get all necessary apps that your teacher may be using for contact, the Remind App, FB or WhatsApp groups or text reminders.
Do not forget to sign up for the PISD E-News, to get email notifications too, and be sure to sign up for your school’s emails too.
Everything is going to be fine, Mama.