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Back To School: Cheat Sheet For Readiness

And, here we go again … us mothers having mini anxiety attacks when the thought of school being back in session does a drive-by in our head.  I’m not delusional.  I have had at least three moments this week when a small moment of “OMG” hit me.  Why does this happen to me over, and over, and over?  Seriously … yet again, I have fooled myself into thinking I’ll casually drift thru summer, picking up little tasks here and there that will eventually carry me right up to the first day school and “Poof” – everything is magically done for me!  

“What are these “things” you speak of, Bridge?” I am sure some of you are thinking.  Heck, my husband even asked me that same question, although his inquisition was almost in a condescending overtone because, in his mind, there surely isn’t ALL that much to do to get the kids shuffled into a new school year.  What at great opportunity for me to spell it out for him!  So, I have spent a good number of hours reading thru the emails that are now flooding my inbox from both the elementary and middle school (YAY!  This fall I will now have two kiddos in separate schools – separate schedules – separate activities.  Shouldn’t there be an official olympic sport on moms with kids in multiple kids at different schools?)  I had a moment with myself and had to face the facts: I need to boost my organizational skills to the next level.  So, in my quest to get control of the growing To-Do list, I would be remiss if I don’t share this cheat sheet I have made for myself with my fellow moms (Insert Disclaimer: My cheat sheet offers some general cheating … but has been tailored specific to cheat sheeting for the Spring Branch ISD.  Nevertheless, I am confident you’ll find some stuff useful for those moms outside of the Spring Branch ISD that also want to get ready and organized!)


Quick List.

  1. Complete Student Paperwork.
    1. Where: Skyward
    2. Who Should Do This: Mom or Dad
  2. Prepare For Grade and Attendance Awareness.
    1. Where: Skyward
    2. Who Should Do This: Mom and Dad
  3. Complete Summer Reading BEFORE August 22, 2016.
    1. Where: Barnes & Nobles / iTunes
    2. Who Should Do This: The Budding Spring Branch Middle School (SBMS) 6th Grader
  4. Register on InfoCenter. (Mom):
    1. Where: InfoCenter
    2. Who Should Do This: Mom and Dad
  5. Read Dress Code. (Mom and Kiddo)
    1. Where: SMBS Dress Code Page
    2. Who Should Do This: Mom/Dad, and Kiddo
  6. Master The Lock.
    1. Where: “Lock Spin” on iPhone and Android
    2. Who Should Do This: Kiddo
  7. Order School Supplies.
    1. Where: Unofficial List (from SBISD site) + Target Page
    2. Who Should Do This: Mom or Dad
  8. Replenish School Lunch Account.
    1. Where: Skyward
    2. Who Should Do This: Mom or Dad
  9. Prepare Calendar With School Activities.
    1. Where: SBISD 2016-2017 School Calendar
    2. Who Should Do This: Mom and Dad
  10. Register Your Volunteer Time.
    1. Where: SBISD Volunteer Page
    2. Who Should Do This: Mom and Dad



Cheat Sheet Details.

  1. Complete Student Paperwork.  Oh the horror of it all … seeing the massive packets of paperwork the teachers send home the first week of school … asking for you to complete it ALL – and in record time!  And, if you have more than one kid, just forget about getting it done in one night.  I know it isn’t the teacher’s fault, but if your kids are in sports and after school activities, like mine … finding the “extra” time to do this is almost near to impossible.  So, this year I am going to look that packet in the face and say: Done and Done!  That’s right!  Parents, you can go onto Skyward and complete the forms online – FIST BUMP!  Love yourself this year and lessen the frazzle by completing the paperwork online – BEFORE school begins.  (HINT: Paperwork for all kids, regardless of which school they attend in Spring Branch ISD can be done thru this online parent access portal.)
  2. Prepare For Grade and Attendance Awareness.  Another great feature of Skyward is the fact you can establish what type of information you’d like to be kept abreast on regarding your child(ren).  In particular, you can establish your preference for being notified to your child’s grades, whether they did or did not turn in an assignment, and even to their attendance.  So, if your preference is to be “in the know”, make sure you set your preferences in Skyward!  (Psst … this can be done for any child in Spring Branch ISD, regardless of which school.)
  3. Sixth Grade Reading List.  In reading the fine, hidden print of one of the emails sent by the Spring Branch Middle School, it seems there is a Sixth Grade Reading List AND it is urged all kids entering sixth grade should read at least one of the books below PRIOR to school starting.  They’ll want to do this because there is a project they will be doing on their reading over the summer.  Barnes & Nobles is always a great place to source your books, and you can also get them thru iTunes should your kids have preference for digital copy.  But, if you can’t get out of the office in time to get the books for the kiddos, try Amazon Prime or Google Express:
    • The Raft, by S.A. Bodeen (Price Estimate: $10 – $16)
    • Twerp, by Mark Goldblatt (Price Range Estimate: $7 – $15)
    • Wonder, by R.J. Palacio (Price Range Estimate: $10 – $11)
  4. Register For InfoCenter.  Schools use a variety of medians to send messages and notifications in broadcast to parents.  In Spring Branch ISD they use InfoCenter.  Therefore, if you haven’t already, quickly register here:
  5. Get Familiar With The SBMS Dress Code.  The last thing you want to happen is you buy new school gear and find it isn’t in the bounds of the dress code – D’Oh!  I found a quick cheat sheet on the dress code for SBMS.  It isn’t more than a 1-minute read – promise!
  6. Master The Lock!  I was floored when Max came home from his tour of the SBMS campus and said he felt the hardest thing he’ll have to master is how to unlock the lock on his locker!  I guess I must have forgotten how intimidating it can be to be given a code to remember … while under pressure of time between classes … whilst remember the good ol’ left-right-left pattern you should dial to unlock the lock.  So … to conquer this head-on, I did two things: (1) bought him a practice lock, and because he is my techi – (2) got him the app “Lock Spin” on his iPhone.  This app literally looks like a lock that you have to spin!  You are given generated codes and are tested on your ability to unlock the lock with the code given, and speed is the challenge!  
  7. School Supplies.  I find at the elementary school we are quite spoiled if we just order the school pack and it will be graciously awaiting our first day upon arrival back to school.  That dream is crushed going into middle school!  In my perusing of the Spring Branch ISD website, I was able to get my hands on the unofficial school supply list and it did come with a disclaimer that often times teachers give kids their preferred supply list once school commences.  In any event, it seems an unofficial list has been crafted that helps incoming students get a common list of items most teachers expect.  Knowing myself, I’m not sure I’m interested in walking thru the deserted isles of tumbleweed school supply sections at stores the week school begins to find a depletion of left-over, half broken packages of supplies.  So, if you’re like me and want to at least get the 90% coverage of supplies, here you go!  Here is the list directly from the Spring Branch ISD site.  AND … I did find that Target has Spring Branch Middle School’s list in their nifty bag of supply lists.  You can click here and choose which store you prefer to pick-up your supplies.  Of course, if time isn’t on your side and you’re so over driving thru Houston traffic – no worries – Target will also deliver!  Or, again, you can opt to use Google Express if you prefer they pick-up your items and deliver them to you 🙂  Gotta love Google.  OHHHH … and don’t forget, if you order your supplies this weekend it is Tax Free!
  8. Lunches.  My kiddos are accustomed to homemade lunches and this will probably remain, even with Max going into middle school.  Yet, for those rare rainy days when I am just not able to get a nicely packed meal out the door before they leave for the day I always like to have their school account with some cash.  Therefore, before school starts, don’t forget to put some money in their school account, should you also opt to have this option for them.  If you are a Spring Branch ISD parent, you can add funds thru the Skyward site!  If you’re also looking for some good lunch ideas and snacks for the kids, you should definitely check out our section on the blog on Everything Kiddos: Lunches & Snacks.  We’re updating menus and recipes often so keep checking it out throughout the year and let us know what your kid’s favorites are 🙂
  9. Prepare The Calendar.  I’m noticing a lot of the newsletters coming out from the schools are already publishing important dates to Meet The Teacher days, Fall Parent Teacher Conferences, PTA meetings, etc.  Take the 30 minutes it requires and put these dates already on your calendar so that you don’t miss out!  For Spring Branch ISD parents, here is the 2016-2017 School Calendar 🙂
  10. Register To Volunteer.  I know I’m not the only mom around like wishes to be involved in helping our schools wherever I can be of value.  Spring Branch ISD has a volunteer program that you must register for.  You should get ahead and register now if you’re available to donate time at any capacity to the school(s): Click Here to view the volunteer program details.  


We are on the countdown to less than 3 weeks before school starts again here in Houston, Texas.  Let’s get our lean, mad organizational and preparation skills going and get your kiddos and families ready for an AWESOME start to school 🙂  Please let me know what you think about this post by submitting your comments below.  Also, please feel free to share this post with others you feel it will help!!!  If you have any questions please let me know  – I want to make sure you have whatever you need to conquer these last few weeks of summer getting off to good start for fall school!

Thanks TBSH friends — Biggst XOXO, Bridge

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