Here are 10 more tips to consider when you’re out shopping:
Go early. That means not the week before school starts. It also means early in the morning on a weekday when stores are fully stocked and not crowded.
Shop other areas of the store. When the back-to-school aisle gets congested, head to the regular office supplies aisle. It’s less crowded and you can knock a bunch off items your list away from the crowds.
Your time is money. You can save money by shopping many stores, or you can save on gas and time by choosing one big store. If you just need a couple of easy items, skip the crowds and go to a smaller store like a drug store or a dollar store.
Anticipate needs. Think about what supplies you will need at home the entire school year. Stock up during sales on basics like pencils and notebook paper for middle-schoolers and high-schoolers before they get their official lists. Ask parents of a kid one grade older than yours what their child needed last year.
Shop for value not just price. Remember, a cheap backpack won’t last the whole year. A thin T-shirt isn’t worth the $4 after the first hole.
Bigger isn’t better. Back-to-school specials might make the 10-pack of pencils less expensive than the 30-pack or the two-pack of glue sticks a better value than the eight-pack.
Use coupons and store deals wisely. Before you go, look online to see what specials are out there, but don’t get suckered into store deals. The 5 percent you save at one store might not be enough to overcome to great prices at another store.
Tax-free weekend (Aug. 5-7) isn’t always the best. You’ll be fighting crowds and sometimes the 8.25 percent you save isn’t as much as the 10-, 20-, 30-percent off deals that happen at the end of the back-to-school season.
Don’t bring the kids. For basics that will be shared with the whole class or are standard items, go it alone. Bringing the kids means more opportunities for unnecessary items to get into your basket.
Do bring the kids, but set a budget. For personal items like backpacks and clothes, let kids pick them out, but set a limit of how much you are willing to spend. For a really smart lesson, bring the $30 cash you have allotted for a backpack and lunch box, or the $200 for new clothes, and let your child figure it out. When the money is gone, it’s gone.
Who do your kids think Batman is? Ben Affleck? George Clooney? Val Kilmer? Or Michael Keaton? If they don’t know the Adam West Batman, it’s time for an introduction. Paramount Theatre is celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Batman: The Movie,” with a screening 1 p.m. Saturday. The Batmobile will be there a will Batman and Catwoman and Voodoo Doughnuts, plus giveaways from Toy Joy. Tickets are $10, $6 for kids. Purchase tickets at www.austintheatre.org
If Batman’s not your thing, there’s still a lot to do this weekend. Here are some ideas:
Friday Flutters. Search for butterflies and get a behind-the-scenes tour of the insectary. 7 p.m. Friday. $10 adult, $5 children. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org.
Will Dupuy. 2 p.m. Friday, University Hills Branch, Austin Public Library.
Summer Stock Austin: “The Addams Family.” 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 2 p.m. Saturday. $34 adults, $27 children and seniors. “The Steadfast Soldier.” A new musical from The Biscuit Brothers. 2 p.m. Sunday. 10 a.m Friday-Saturday $17 adults, $12 children and seniors. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org.
“Mary Poppins.” See everyone’s favorite nanny come to life. $29-$79. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 4. Zach Theatre’s Topfer Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org.
“Shrek The Musical.” Zilker Summer Musical is back. Free. 8:15 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Aug. 13. Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Drive. zilker.org
Thinkery.Fizz, Bang, Pop! Play with science and make noise. For ages 4-7, 11:15 a.m. or 1:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday $8 child, $8 adult. Exploring Explosions. For ages 8 and older. 3:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8 child, $8 adult. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. Thinkeryaustin.org.
Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park. Hear the music of Big Band. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Long Center City Terrace, 701 W. Riverside Drive. austinsymphony.org.
Back to Hogwarts! Noon, every Sunday in August, Faulk Central Library.
Judy Knotts, who served as principal for St. Gabriel’s Catholic School and St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, has decades of experience leading schools. She served on the board at the Principals’ Center at Harvard and was a consultant to schools for 15 years. Statesman readers might know her for the wise religion columns she writes, mostly on the topic of homelessness, which appear in the Saturday Austin360 section.
Knotts, who did her doctoral dissertation on which new organizations make it five years and which ones do not, found the same truth about which schools were successful and which ones were not. It’s all about the person leading the organization or school and whether they are supported.
“Success all depended on the principal,” she says. “It didn’t matter whether they are low income or high income (schools).” It also didn’t matter which country they were in, she says.
When schools weren’t succeeding, they often had principals who were going through the motions or working to take the pay check and going home. They were people without passion or unethical people, or they could even be well-intentioned people who didn’t have the right training.
As school begins, parents often worry about which teachers their children will get, but really they should be thinking about who is leading the school. Good principals make teachers better, Knotts says. Like the way teachers help children grow, the principal’s job is growing adults (teachers), Knotts says.
“Teachers clearly are important, but ask any teacher what drives excellence, it’s if the principal is creating a culture, a community of care.” Knotts says. “If (teachers) are supported and cared for, they can do their work, then they perform the best.”
Teachers will “do their best work with a gifted principal or they will leave,” she says.
Education is everyone’s business, Knotts says, “We all have a role to play.” Supporting the principal as a parent is a great way.
Knotts would love to have parents hand principals her book to give them better training, but parents also can help by creating a better relationships with them by following these tips:
Notice when good things happen and let the principal know. Principals often only hear complaints, not praise. Positive feedback helps create a more positive environment.
Don’t constantly complain. When parents constantly complain, principals don’t know whether this time it’s a serious complaint.
Take problems or concerns to the teacher first instead of right to the principal. It raises red flag when parents skip a couple steps. It says: ‘They think they are more important than everyone else,” she says. Even if the problem is the teacher, start with the teacher. You want to build a collaborative relationship for the whole year. If that doesn’t work, then you can work your way up to the assistant principal and then principal.
If you do need to talk to the principal, make an appointment first and let the principal or the school secretary know what the appointment is about. It gives the principal time to do the research and makes your meeting together more effective.
Volunteer at the school. Even if you work full-time, there are smaller jobs you can do. “We love those parents, and it’s human nature to want to help them out,” Knotts says.
Be involved in your child’s education, but not too much. Know when the science project is due without doing it.
Don’t complain about teacher assignments. “Your child is not going to have the perfect teacher ever year,” Knotts says. It’s just one year, and while you might not think that the teacher is the ideal teacher for your child, you want your child to have experience with a lot of different leadership styles over the course of their school career. A difficult or strict teacher can help them learn, too, as will the ultra-relaxed teacher. (If you do need to request a teacher change, read how to do it.)
Be optimistic about this school year with your child, even if you don’t feel optimistic. Try not to put fear in their minds by bringing up your own worries about things that might or might not happen. “I know you’re going to have a great year,” she says, is a great thing to say.
Knotts says she doesn’t miss waking up at 6 a.m. to be out the door by 6:20 a.m. totally engaged, but she does miss growing teachers. “Schools are wonderful, organic communities where people grow,” she says. “If works it’s a wonderful environment.”
Back to school shopping is tough, but if you have a daughter who walks into the girls’ department at any department store or big box store in Austin and wants to run away at the sight of everything pink and purple and ruffled all over, what are you to do? And if you have a son that doesn’t want to wear another blue or red shirt with a truck or superhero on it, what do you do then?
“We all started our businesses because the clothes that we saw out there are limited, and we all started our companies because they didn’t support our children’s interests,” says Girls Will Be co-founder and Austin mom Sharon Choksi.
The Clothes Without Limits site, clotheswithoutlimits.com, lets you shop its different lines all in one place. There you’ll find items like:
Dresses with mathmatical symbols on them, $19.99 from Svaha
A pink body suit with a construction digger on it, $25.95 from Baby Blastoff
Clothes Without Limits is trying to bring awareness that “clothes are sending negative messages to our kids,” Choksi
says. Just as parents and the media got behind the idea that there is no such thing as “gender appropriate” toys, Clothes Without Limits would like to have the same conversation about clothes.
The toy discussion has seen great strides recently. Retailer Target removed its gender-specific signs in its toy departments last year, toy brands like GoldieBlox and Roominate brought new engineering toys to the market, and the public outcry over the action figure for new “Star Wars” heroine Rey not being on the shelves caused #WhereIsRey to go viral and get Rey figures into stores. The same discussion needs to be had for clothes, Choksi says.
Clothes instantly tell the world about your child, she says. If your daughter shows up on the first day of school wearing a pink shirt with a Disney princess on it, everyone will assume she’s a “girly girl,” which might not be her personality at all. It might just be what you could find in the girls’ department. But, if she shows up wearing a shirt with a dinosaur or an atom on it, everyone will know she loves science.
“How do you interact with a child? It’s based on what they are wearing,” Choksi says. “‘Look at your pretty outfit,’ that’s what they hear all the time. They don’t hear anything else. I’d love to change that message where what they love teachers and other parents recognize them for.”
Choksi does see a few small changes happening. Lands’ End offered T-shirts to promoting girls’ interest in space, and after
positive social media response, it now has at least one or two items per season promoting girls’ Science Technology Engineer and Math interests. Online retailer Mini Boden offered a girl’s swimsuit with dinosaurs on it, and after a big response, it now offers dinosaur dresses and adventure T-shirts for girls. Choksi also recently saw girls’ shorts that were longer and would work with school dress code in her local Dick’s Sporting Goods, but often girls, and women, too, still have to head to the boys’ or men’s sections to try to find longer shorts and not-as-tight T-shirts.
The fit of girls’ clothing is a big deal and a big reason why Choksi started Girls Will Be. Age-appropriate girls’ clothes is also a big deal. “Over time, people are pushing adult fashions younger and younger,” she says. Parents, though must be buying them or the big retailers wouldn’t be offering them, she says. What’s not clear is whether parents are buying these clothes because their girls want them or because they can’t find anything
else. If you don’t want that for your daughter, write to big companies and ask for something better, or support smaller companies that are offering clothes that are appropriate and fit your daughter, she says.
That’s what Clothes Without Limits and its companies are trying to do. “Send your kids a few different messages of what they can like and what is OK to like,” she says.
Earlier in the summer we offered Camp Austin 360, with a things to do this summer. You can read that story at specials.mystatesman.com/camp-austin360. Now, I offer you 10 things to do with the kids before summer ends.
1. Dip into natural watering holes. This summer, there’s water in the lakes, the creeks, the rivers and the swimming holes. We love dipping into Hamilton Pool, splashing around in Barton Creek and floating the Guadalupe River. Don’t forget your sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles, and, often, life jackets.
2. Try out a new park or hiking trail. Go early or go late — don’t go in the middle of the day — but summer is a great time to step outside your neighborhood park. We’re a fan of Mayfield Park for its peacocks and trails, Inks Lake State Park for its views and Lake Park in the Mueller neighborhood for its playground.
3. Head to a cave. There’s nothing cooler (amazing-wise) and cooler (temperature-wise) than a Central Texas cave in summer. Start at Inner Space Cavern for beginners and work your way up to Cave Without a Name.
5. Hit a museum. Summer is a great time to be in a museum. Hooray, air-conditioning!
The Bullock Museum has these events coming up: Storytime Mondays: Texas Animals, 11 a.m. Aug. 1; Summer Memories, 11 a.m. Aug. 8. Wednesday Workshops:Create a Fossil, 11 a.m. Aug. 3; Nature Writing, 11 a.m. Aug. 10. Discovery Fridays: Native Mammals, 11 a.m., Aug. 5; Exciting Artifacts, 11 a.m. Aug. 12. Summer Free Family Film Series: “A Cat in Parts,” 2 p.m. Aug. 6 and “The Secret of Nimh,” 2 p.m. Aug. 20.
The Thinkery offers these weekend workshops next month: “Silly Science.” For 12-24 months, 9:45 a.m. Aug. 6. $20 one child and adult. For 24-36 months, 10:45 a.m. Aug. 6, $20 one child and adult. “Tracking Termites.” For ages 4-7. 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Aug6-7, 20-21. $8 per person. “Simple Stitches.” For ages 4-7. Create a stuffed animal. 12:15 p.m. Aug. 13-14, Aug. 27-28. $8 per person. “Polymear Wearables.” For ages 8 and older. 2:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Aug. 13-14, Aug. 27-28. $8 per person. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. Thinkeryaustin.org.
Umlauf Sculpture Gardenhas Family Day noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 14. Enjoy yoga, story time, sculpting and more for free.The Kids Kraft program on Saturday afternoons for kids in kindergarten through second grade. Shadow Sculptures, 10 a.m. Aug. 6; and Mad Mobiles, 10 a.m. Aug. 13. $15. umlaufsculpture.org.
6. See a musical.Summer Stock Austin has three shows: “The Addams Family.” 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1, Aug. 5-6, 10, 12-13. 2 p.m. Aug. 7. $34 adults, $27 children and seniors. “The Steadfast Soldier.” A new musical from The Biscuit Brothers. 10 a.m Aug. 5-6, Aug. 8-10, Aug. 12-13. $17 adults, $12 children and seniors. “Carnival.” 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3-4, 7, 9 and 11. 2 p.m. Aug. 6, 11-13. $34 adults, $27 children and seniors. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org.
See “Shrek The Musical” under the stars at Zilker Summer Musical.. Free. 8:15 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, through Aug. 13. Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Drive. zilker.org
“Mary Poppins” flies onto the stage at Zach Theatre. $29-$79. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 4. Zach Theatre’s Topfer Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org.
Head to jolly old England for “Robin Hood and Maid Marian’s Wedding.” Sherwood Forest Faire presents this play. 11 a.m. Aug. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21; 8 p.m. Aug. 13. $12 adults, $8 children. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org.
7. Go to a circus. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings “Circus Xtreme” to the Erwin Center, Aug. 24-28. It’s the first time the circus will be here without elephants.
8. See a movie. The Paramount’s summer movie series includes “Aladdin,” 1 p.m. Aug. 6. “Jurassic Park” 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6 and 2 p.m. Aug. 7. “Annie,” 1 p.m. Aug. 14. “Mary Poppins,” 1 p.m. Aug. 20. $10 adults, $5 kids. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org.
The Alamo Drafthouse Kids Campis showing“Babe,” 10:55 a.m. Aug. 1-4, Lakeline. “Minions,” 10:25 a.m. Aug. 1-4, Slaughter Lane. “The Karate Kid,” 10:20 a.m. Aug. 5, 10:25 a.m. Aug. 6-11, Slaughter Lane. “The Dark Crystal,” Aug. 12-18, Slaughter Lane. “The Lego Movie,” 10 a.m. Aug. 19-25, Slaughter Lane. “Horton Hears a Who,” 11 a.m. Aug. 1-4, Village. “Shaun the Sheep,” 11 a.m. Aug. 5-11, Village. Reserve tickets for $1-$3 donation online. drafthouse.com.
10. Find new reading material. Hit your Austin Public Library branch, where this month Literature Live! presents “Puppet Olympics,” you can learn about fish in Texas and visit with animals from Crowe’s Nest farms, hear Echo and the Bats and Positive RePrecussions, see Gusto the Great and explore Hogwarts again.
At BookPeople this month, Carnival of Books will celebrate all things books for all ages. 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 13. 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com
Some kids love back to school shopping. Other kids would rather eat spinach. Like the popular adult versions, KidBox skips the store and delivers clothes to you. You set what your child’s size is and what he or she likes. Then after the box arrives, you keep what you want and send back the rest or exchange for a different size. KidBox has sizes for girls sizes 2T-14 and boys sizes 2T-16.
Each box has six to seven clothing items and costs $98. If you keep the box, KidBox donates a new outfit to a kid in need.
KidBox will send you a box five times a year, but you can unjoin or skip a box, or change size and style preferences. KidBox doesn’t have any fees or shipping costs, just the price of what you buy. kidbox.com
With no help from J.K. Rowling, author Jamie Harrington takes some of the elements of the books and creates crafts. Inside you can make tie-die shirts in the colors of the Hogwarts houses, a golden snitch necklace and lightening scar earrings, a spell book journal, a monster “Book of Monsters” tablet cover, and pencil wands, butterbeer lip balm and potion lotion and more.
The much anticipated “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” comes out at midnight on July 31. Like previous Harry Potter books, Austin booksellers are hosting events the night before as a countdown to the release. Find our list of events here.
This new book, really isn’t a book in the tradition of the first seven books. It’s actually the script of a play that is opening in London on July 30. The play is set 19 years after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
Will your kids read it or has the time of Harry Potter passed?
This new generation of children who are ripe for Harry Potter books have grown up with not just the books, but also the movies. At my house, we have bought or have borrowed all seven books. I remember spending my maternity leave with my 15-year-old son starting the series and then not being able to wait for the next one and the next one.
My kids, however, have had the first book read to them in elementary school. They have not read any of them themselves. I put the books in their rooms, by their bedsides, in their hands, but to no avail.
Why? As soon they were old enough for the books, they also had the movies. They’ve seen every one of the movies multiple times. When given the choice between reading the books and seeing the movies, they chose movies every time.
It strikes me that we might have a generation of kids that won’t line up to get this new book. They will wait for the movie.
Instead, the line to get the book next Saturday will be filled with people in their 20s and 30s, who read the books as kids as they came out, and people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, who read them to their children.
I hope I am wrong.
Are your kids excited for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”? Take our poll.
Tea Collection is introducing its Japan-influenced kids styles to Austin audiences with a pop-up shop July 28-July 31. Tea also will give gift bags to the first 200 customers.
The clothier offers sizes for babies to 12 years old. Prices range from $22.50 for a shirt to $99 for a complete outfit.
Tea will give 20 percent of sales back to local nonprofit organizations and schools: Caritas of Austin, Thinkery, Camp Fire Central Texas, Ridgetop Elementary School Amigos (PTA), Any Baby Can, Common Threads, Well Aware, Khabele School, Beyond the Grade, and Viva Becker Elementary.
Tea is also providing many kid activities through the weekend including origami making, bubble wands with Handzies, science demonstrations by the Thinkery, musicians Staci Gray and Mr. Will, yoga by the Little Yoga House, Japanese cooking with Foodie Kids and story times with the Japanese-American Society.
It’s all happening 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday-July 30 and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 31 at Toms Roasting Co., 1401 Congress Ave. teacollection.com
Here’s the full schedule:
POP-UP SHOP SCHEDULE
Thursday, July 28
9 a.m-8 p.m.
Al Day: Temporary Tatos with NatureTots
10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Buble Wands with Handzies
1–2 p.m.: Story Time with Tea
2–3 p.m.: Coloring with May Designs
3–4 p.m.: Q&A with Tea Co-Founder Leigh Rawdon
4–5 p.m.: Origami with Tea
5–7 p.m.: Launch Party (Invite Only)
Friday, July 29
9 a.m-8 p.m.
10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Buble Wands with Handzies
1–2 p.m.: Science Demo with Thinkery
2–3 p.m. Story Time with Tea
3–4 p.m.: Origami with Tea
4–5 p.m.: Musical Guest Staci Gray
5–6 p.m.: Back-to-School Style Tips
Saturday, July 30
9 a.m-8 p.m.
10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Buble Wands with Handzies
1–2 p.m.: Coloring with May Designs
2–4 p.m.: Musical Guest Mr. Will
4–5 p.m.: Origami with Tea
5–6 p.m.: Back-to-School Style Tips
Sunday, July 31
9 a.m-7 p.m.
10 a.m.–11 a.m..: Family Yoga (ages 4+) Led by The Little Yoga House
11 a.m.–Noon: Story Time with The Japanese-American Society
Noon–1 p.m.: Japanese Coking Class with Foodie Kids
1–5 p.m.: Tea Casting Call