Shopping for back to school this tax-free weekend? Check out what we found

Every year, we go shopping. We go shopping for back-to-school clothes in July for our back-to-school section.

This year, we shopped for 10 different kids at five different stores and outfitted them with clothing, shoes and backpacks.

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Check out some of our finds:

RELATED: What’s tax-free this weekend and what’s not

Ready for class: On Kolby Tate, 12th-grader, Levi’s 511, dark gray jeans, $69.50, Urban Pipeline plaid flannel shirt, $36; Batman shirt with raised Batman emblem, $15, all at Kohl’s; iPack backpack, $22.49, at Target; and Vans classic checkered shoes, $59.99, at DSW. On Chloe Lown, 12th-grader, Wallflower jean and plush jacket, $60, So shirt with laced sleeves, $20, Tinseltown Denim Couture jeans, $48, and So Sugar maple Boots, $59.99 all at Kohl’s; and Swiss Gear backpack/purse, $49.99, A New Day earrings, $14.99, and necklace, $16.99, all at Target. LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN


First-day jitters: On Joaquin Badgley-Finan, kindergartner, space shirt, $9.99, jeans, $24.99, shoes, $26.99, at Old Navy; and space jacket, $24, and Skip Hop Zoo Pack Bailey Bat backpack, $20, both at Carter’s. On E.J. Ocampo, sixth-grader, red Levi’s cargo shorts, $42, at Kohls; button-down shirt with space theme, $16.99, at Old Navy; Cat & Jack truck lunch box, $9.99, at Target; and Fila Fraction 2 running shoes, $39.99, at DSW. LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN


Let’s roar: On Mirielle Badgley-Finan, dinosaur shirt, $18, gold space leggings, $6.97, and camo and gold hearts shoes, $38, all at Carter’s; and space backpack, $24.99, at Old Navy. On Avery Knox, second-grader, dinosaur top, $16, at Carter’s; built-in flex shorts, $19.99, and Epic shoes, $19.99, both at Old Navy; and CRCKT dinosaur lunch box, $8.99, at Target. LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN


Getting back to work: On Kona Badgley-Finan, fourth-grader, unicorn leggings, $16, at Carter’s; skort, $22.90, and flower sequin shirt, $24.90, both at Justice; So Zina sequin shoes, $54, at Kohl’s; sequined unicorn lunch box, $12.90, at Justice; and Skip Hop Zoo Pack Luna Llama backpack, $20, at Carter’s. On Julian Gonzalez, second-grader, Urban Pipeline short sleeve hoodie shirt, $20, and Urban Pipeline awesomely soft fleece pants, $32, both at Kohl’s; Zip-it lunch box, $7.99, at Target; Under Armour Blue Lockdown 3 shoes, $55, at DSW. LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN


Made it through the first day: On Julian Knox, sixth-grader, Far Out Dude shirt, $10.99, palm tree fleece shorts, $17.99, and surfer shoes, $9.49, all at Old Navy; and CRCKT space backpack, $18.99, at Target. On Emma Ocampo, second-grader, star leggings, $10.99, NASA T-shirt, $16.99, silver star shoes, $24.99, all at Old Navy; ‘Jurassic World’ tutu, $16.99, at Target; and sequined owl backpack, $39.90, at Justice. LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

RELATED: Get more back to school at

RELATED: What do teachers recommend you do to start the school year off right?

Shopping for back to school this tax-free weekend? Pick up diapers for Austin Diaper Bank

Tax-free weekend is almost here. Friday-Sunday, you can get most clothing and school supplies tax-free. That’s an 8.25 percent savings.

You know what you can also get? Diapers, both ones for babies and ones for adults.

RELATED: What’s tax-free this weekend and what’s not

The Austin Diaper Bank needs your diapers. AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2016

The Austin Diaper Bank would be happy to have your donation. Right now, they particularly need size 5 and size 6, but they’ll take any size diapers and they’ll take ones for adults, too.

“While diaper donations slow during the summer, the need does not,” said Holly McDaniel, executive director of the Austin Diaper Bank, in a press release. “If we can’t replenish some of our supplies, some of our neighbors in Central Texas may not get the diapers they need to keep babies or other family members clean, dry and healthy during these hot months.”

You can drop diapers off at these locations:

Whole Foods Downtown (Outdoor Bin)
525 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703

5555 N. Lamar Blvd. Suite C127
In PS Business Park

Austin Diaper Bank Warehouse (Outdoor Bin)
8711 Burnet Road, back of Building B, 78757

BabyEarth (Outdoor Bin)
106 E. Old Settlers Blvd.
Just east of I-35 in Round Rock
Store hours: M-Sat 9-8 and Sun 11-6

Big Sky Pediatric Therapy
9433 Bee Caves Road, Suite 101
Near Laura Bush Library at Cuernavaca
Store hours: M-F 8-5

College Nannies + Tutors
3736 Bee Caves Road, Suite 3
In Walgreens shopping center
Store hours: M-Th 10-8, F 10-4, Sun 11-4

Dance Xplosion
9600 Escarpment Blvd. Suite 750
By Starbucks
Store hours: M, T, TH, F: 9-12, 3-7, W: 3-8, Sat. 8:30-12:30

Evans Family Dental
9001 Brodie Lane
Right behind Jet’s Pizza
Hours: M-Th 7:30-4

101B Pecan Street W.
In Pflugerville
Store hours: M-Sat 10-7 and Sun 12-6

Kid to Kid Austin
14010 N. U.S. 183, Suite 420
By Barnes and Noble and Texas Land and Cattle
Store hours: M-Sat 10-7 and Sun 12-5

Special Addition
7301 Burnet Road
Across from Ichiban
Store hours: M-Fri 10-6 and Sat 10-5

Wells Branch Community Library
15001 Wells Port Drive
Austin, TX 78728
Hours: M-Thurs 10-8, Sat 10-6 and Sun 1-6

If you don’t want to mess with the stores, you also can shop the bank’s Amazon wish list. 

Find out more about the bank at

Austin school district, health officials warn parents about West Nile virus

Last night, we got this message from Austin Public Health and Austin Independent School District:

A batch of different types of mosquito breeds are seen after being collected by the City of Austin in 2016. AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In recent weeks, Austin Public Health has seen an increase in mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile Virus in the Austin area.

We’d like to remind you of symptoms and preventative steps because we know this is a time of year when families and students are spending a lot of time outdoors.

Most people infected with West Nile Virus do not have any signs or symptoms. However, if you do see symptoms such as fever, headache, tiredness, body aches or skin rash, seek medical attention.

Some preventative measures for your family are:

  • The best defense is with an EPA-approved insect repellent. Follow directions and apply as directed.
  • Stay inside when mosquitoes are active. For most mosquitoes in the U.S., activity peaks during the dusk hours.
  • If you have to be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants that are light colored. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors.
  • Drain any water that collects around your home. Mosquitoes need only a teaspoon of water to breed.

For more information on preventative measures, visit or

We look forward to seeing everyone back at school Aug. 20.

Thank you,
City of Austin Health and Human Services and Austin ISD

This follows news that mosquitoes in Cedar Park tested positive for West Nile.

In July, Travis County was put on alert for one West Nile case.

RELATED: Five things to know about West Nile Virus

Looking for ideas on how to prevent mosquitoes? Last year we tested 16 repellents to see which ones worked best. Hint: DEET matters.

RELATED: Why do mosquitoes bite some people and not others?


Back to school: Are your child’s vaccinations current?

Every year, there are kindergarten and seventh-grade parents ready to send their kids off for the first day of school who have to turn around and head to the doctor’s office. Either they need proof of vaccination or they are missing a required vaccination or the exemption form to opt out of vaccines (which is never a good idea unless there’s a medical reason. At the University of Texas, we’ve had cases of mumps in recent year because of the lack of vaccinations.).


LVN Tanya Roland vaccinates Fatima Wolfe, the 1-year-old daughter of Jordan Wolfe, at the Shots for Tots vaccination clinic at St. John’s Community Center. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Don’t get caught missing a vaccine or without your paperwork. Find your children’s shot records and make sure they are in compliance with the 2018-2019 school vaccination schedule:

Kindergarten-Sixth Grade

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: four or five doses depending on which version your kid got.

Polio: four or three doses

Measles, Mumps and Rubella: two doses

Hepatitis B: three doses

Varicella: two doses

Hepatitus A: two doses

Seventh graders

All of the above, plus

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: three doses of the primary series plus a booster within the last five years

Meningococcal: one dose

Eighth- throught 12-graders

All of the above, but if the diptheria/tetanus/pertussis shot has not been given in the last 10 years, a booster is needed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends these vaccines for the 11-year-old or 12-year-old check up:

  • HPV vaccine
    Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps protect against HPV infections that cause cancer. For kids age 9-14, it’s two doses, one six months to a year after the first. For kids 15 or older, it’s three doses, the second one to two months after the first; the third, six months after the first.
  • Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine
    Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against some of the bacteria that can cause infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). These illnesses can be very serious, even fatal. It recommends one dose at 11.
  • Tdap vaccine
    Tdap vaccine provides a booster to continue protection from childhood against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also called whooping cough).
  • Flu vaccine
    Preteens and teens should get a flu vaccine every year, by the end of October if possible. It is very important for preteens and teens with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes to get the flu shot, but the flu can be serious for even healthy kids.

RELATED: FluMist will be back this year

The CDC recommends this vaccine at the 16-year check up:

  • A second dose of meningococcal ACWY

The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine recommends this vaccines at the 16-year check up:

  • meningococcal B vaccine.

RELATED: Back to school to-do list: Schedule doctor visit for vaccines, sports physicals

Think your child doesn’t need to be vaccinated. Dr. Don Murphey, an infectious disease specialist at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, who has been treating infectious disease in Texas children for almost a quarter of a century, explained to us last school why vaccines are so important.

Last year he saw seen mumps cases, like the ones at UT, come into Dell Children’s. Last year by August, Texas had more than 200 cases. “Before 2000, we had almost no cases of mumps,” he says.

He’s also seen in recent years more measles, whooping cough, pneumococcal meningitis and Haemophilus influenzae type b meningitis.

What’s going on here?

We’re seeing what doctors have been seeing in Europe, especially France and the United Kingdom, but on a smaller scale, Murphey says. The rates of mumps and measles in particular skyrocketed there after “The Lancet” medical journal published a 1998 study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that it later had to retract. Wakefield lost his license because of it.

Wakefield’s study found a link to autism from the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Multiple studies including those funded by plantiff’s lawyers who were looking for a link found no-such link. What happens, though, is that the MMR vaccine is given around the same time — about 12 months to 15 months — as when many kids with autism start to show signs.

Yet, the misinformation and the fear of vaccines persisted. Parents in Europe stopped vaccinating and Europe no longer had the “herd” immunity that happens when at least 90 percent to 95 percent of the population are vaccinated against a disease.

Diseases like measles and mumps that we just didn’t see are happening again. We rely on the herd immunity to protect us. You see these vaccines are not fool-proof, and they have waning effects. In the case of the students at UT, even if college students have been vaccinated as children but are exposed to mumps now, they might not be fully immune and get it.

Murphey says the mumps vaccine we use “is a very safe one. It doesn’t cause any meningitis,” he says. “It works great for herd immunity, but it doesn’t work if you’re exposed.”

If you do get mumps, it isn’t the worst thing most of the time. You get a fever, you feel bad for a few days, he says. Boys can also get an infection in their testes and girls in their ovaries. What is scary is that mumps can lead to meningitis and deafness.

While mumps is not a terrible disease, we could avoid the whole thing, if people who can get immunized do get immunized, he says.

For parents who are considering or are using an alternative vaccine schedule and delaying vaccines, Murphey encourages them not to. “Alternative schedules have never been shown to be any safer,” he says.

By delaying vaccines, you’re not protecting the most vulnerable population, who can get the most sick from these disease — infants and small children. They end up in the hospital or worse.

“You want to start protecting those kids as soon as possible,” Murphey says.

Vaccinate, please, if not for your own child, but for the other children.

Back to School: Plan ahead for tax-free weekend

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Tax-free weekend is coming. That’s the three days before school starts when you won’t have to pay sales tax on school supplies, clothing, diapers, shoes and more.

Before you go hog wild loading up your shopping cart, remember to ask yourself: Is this really a good deal?

Tax-free means you’re saving 08.25 percent and if that’s on top of already low sales prices, it could be a good deal. However, sometimes retailers will end a sale during tax-free weekend or they will wait until after it’s over to put something on sale. The real sale price can be the better deal.

The school supply aisle at Target won’t be this orderly much longer. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

Also know that when you’re shopping — especially if the kids are in tow —  things might end up in your basket that are taxable, not on sale and not a good deal.

What’s tax-free Aug. 10-12?

School supplies: Binders; backpacks and book bags; calculators; cellophane tape; blackboard chalk; compasses; composition books; crayons; erasers; folders — expandable, pocket, plastic and manila; glue; highlighters; index cards; index card boxes; legal pads; lunchboxes; markers (including dry-erase markers); notebooks; paper; pencil boxes and other school supply boxes; pencil sharpeners; pencils; pens; protractors; rulers; scissors; writing tablets.

Clothing: Most clothing; socks; most shoes; ties; coats; pajamas; swimsuits; uniforms; underwear; sports jerseys; sports hats.

Others: Adult and baby diapers.

What’s not tax-free?

Athletic items: Sports shoes like cleats or fishing boots; sports equipment; sports clothing only used for the purpose of a sport (so not jerseys, swimsuits, sweatpants and yoga pants).

Sewing items: Fabric, buttons and zippers.

Accessories: All accessories including jewelry and watches.

Bags: Purses; luggage; wallets and briefcases, or more than 10 backpacks.

Anything more than $100

RELATED: Which store has the best deals on school supplies?


Sending a kid off to college? Follow professors’ advice for an easier transition

Across the country for the next two months, anxious parents are moving their equally anxious kids into their first dorm rooms or apartments. What should first-time college kids know about this next year?

We asked professors at three local colleges what advice they would give first-time students. Here are their thoughts:

Create a routine. Make sure it is a sustainable one that will make it through the whole school year. Routine becomes a part of you. Going back to school doesn’t mean changing the way you live; it means adapting the way you should live to be your best self.

Take care of yourself. Schedule time for reading, thinking, recreating, exercising, connecting with friends and family and tending to the spiritual, if that’s meaningful to you.

Maxwell Gaddy, from Midland gets help from his father Chris and sister Jenna, 16, moving into Duran Residence Hall at theUniversity of Texas at Austin in 2016.

Don’t sacrifice social life. Make time for it.

Make time for being alone — especially if you’re in a dorm or busy apartment complex. School can be overwhelming with the amount of people around all the time. Alone time is essential.

Get academic direction. Professors have office hours for you to use them. If those times don’t work, make an appointment with your professors. Students who meet with their professors tend to have better grades. It shows professors that they care about their education. Even if you don’t have a question, you can meet with the professor for one-on-one discussion of the material.

RELATED: How to talk to your professors

Don’t wait to challenge a grade or ask for help. Often students wait until the last few weeks of the semester, when it feels almost too late. It also makes professors question if it’s only about the grade and not about learning the material.

RELATED: Kid not making it in college? Why a generation comes home

Take advantage of tutoring opportunities. Learn what academic resources are available and how to access them.

Know what mental health resources are available and how to access them. When you’re in crisis, you might have difficulty sorting that out. Discover those resources before the crisis begins.

RELATED: Looking at colleges? Are you asking about mental health services?

Meet with the disabilities office. If you have a qualifying disability like autism or anxiety, low vision or hearing impairment, connect with the disabilities office before school begins. Also inform teachers of your needs that first week of school.

Your parents’ helicopter days are over. They should not be calling professors or helping you with homework. You have fled the nest, Little Birdy. It’s time to fly.

RELATED: Sending a kid off to college, helicopter parent? Now’s the time to land and let your kid take off

RELATED: How to make the transition to empty nest

RELATED: Have a kid going off to college? Read these books

Sources: Kevin Robbins, University of Texas; Jena Heath, St. Edward’s University; Beth Bernstein, Texas State University; and Jena Heath, St. Edward’s University.

Back to school: Teacher recommend doing these things right now

We asked Austin-area teachers to help us prepare for the upcoming school year. They offered advice for things to do before school begins:

Julian Knox, sixth-grader, and Emma Ocampo, second-grader, get ready for the first day of school.  LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Starting a new school? Check out when the transition camp might be. If you’ve missed it, call the school to see if there is another opportunity for you to walk the halls before school starts.

Read. Read as a family as well as read independently. Find books you love, but if they have a science or social studies-theme that can be helpful. If you know you’ll be studying U.S. history this school year, maybe find a fictional book based on an event in U.S. history. If you don’t love reading, consider putting the closed captioning on the TV and reading that.

Start putting the phones, tablets and video game systems away for longer periods of time. If you’ve been attached to electronics all summer long, time to break yourself of that habit.

Go on educational field trips. Check out the new downtown library. Go to the Thinkery or the Austin Nature & Science Center or the Science Mill.

RELATED: Eight fun things to do before school starts

Keep a journal. Write down what you did this summer before you forget. It can be an online journal or a physical one. Attach photos or drawings.

Rediscover math. Yes, we know you haven’t thought about math in two months, but try reviewing some math facts or find a math game to play. Kids can even test their parents to see if they know their times tables or how to subtract 25 from 57. Make it fun so it doesn’t feel like math. Do activities like make cookies to practice fractions.

Establish a routine again. If you haven’t been going to bed or getting up at school-time hours, start doing that again. It will help you not be as exhausted that first week — and when we say “you,” we mean both students and parents.

Check the school website’s calendar and announcements. That’s where schools will put up important information like Meet the Teacher, the plan for the first day, changes from last year and Back to School Night.

Attend the Meet the Teacher event as a family. It sets the tone that school is important and it lets teachers know that you’re active participants in it. You can even consider bringing the teacher flowers or another small acknowledgement.

RELATED: Things to ask at Meet the Teacher

Talk about the upcoming school year. Parents, be encouraging about what a great school year this is going to be. Build up how much fun your kids are going to have and some of the things they can look forward to. If kids have fears about the upcoming year, listen to them and help them plan how to deal with those scary things.

Go school supply shopping together. It helps get everyone excited. Even if kids share supplies with the rest of the class, a new backpack can be a fun find.

Reunite with school friends. It will help to build the excitement if you plan something fun with the friends you’ve been missing.

Sources: Inez Flores, Mills Elementary; Erica Green, Kiker Elementary; Juli Naranjo, Cowan Elementary; Beth Ann Cole, Boone Elementary; Lori Pearce, Fulmore Middle School; Nancy Stewart, Cedar Park Middle School; Katherine Ratcliffe, Kealing Middle School; Jo Patrick, Fulmore Middle School

Fill your weekend with fun, events to get ready for school, Aug. 3-5

School is lurking. Some of this weekend’s events are helping you directly get ready for school. Others keep the brain active, which is a good thing as we get closer and closer to the school bell ringing.

Check out our weekend calendar of fun family events in and around Austin:


Explore the Thinkery without your parents during Parents Night Out. RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2013


Parents’ Night Out, 5:30-10 p.m. Friday. Kids must be 4 or older and potty-trained. $45 first child, $25 each additional sibling. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Toybrary Austin. Henna Fridays. 10 a.m. Friday. $5. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane.

Teen Videogame Free Play. 2 p.m. Friday, Central Library.

Music and Movement. 11 a.m. Friday, Old Quarry Branch.

Teen Book Club. “Uglies,” 10:30 a.m. Friday, Cepeda Branch.


Summer Stock Austin’s “Rob1n” musical by Allen Robertson and Damon Brown explores this possibility. 11 a.m.  Friday. 10 a.m. Saturday. $9-18.


Zilker Botanical Garden Woodland Faerie Trail. The trail is full of homes people have created for the fairies. It’s open through Aug. 10. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road.

Zilker Summer Musical “All Shook Up.” Zilker Summer Musical returns with the music of Elvis. 8:15 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays through Aug. 18. Free, but donations are welcome. Zilker Hillside Theatre, 2206 William Barton Drive.

Summer Stock Austin’s “The Music Man.” 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Friday. 2 p.m. Sunday, Saturday. $26-33. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive.

“Beauty and the Beast” comes to the stage at Zach Theatre. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 2. $25-$150. Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd.

Alamo Drafthouse Kids Club offers movies for a $1-$5 donation. Plus you can collect stamps for prizes. “Paddington 2.” 10 a.m. Friday 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Slaughter Lane. “Prince of Egypt.” 10 a.m. Friday-Sunday, Lakeline. Events: PBS Kids Back to School with “Daniel Tiger,” 10 a.m. Saturday, Slaughter Lane.  “Christopher Robin” Cereal Party. 10:20 a.m. Saturday, Lakeline. 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Mueller.

Last year Bryan Mondragon, 7, yells for his mother and siblings to wait up as he packs his new backpack with more school supplies during the Austin Independent School District’s Back to School Bash. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2015


AISD Back to School Bash. Get free backpacks and supplies, medical screenings and vaccinations with shot record, and haircuts and more. Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. Buses leave from Guerrero Thompson and Summitt elementary schools; Bedichek, Martin, Mendez and Covington middle schools; and Lanier and Reagan high schools.

Heart screenings for student athletes. Call ahead at 512-478-3627, or visit to schedule your screening. 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. Heart Hospital of Austin, 3801 N. Lamar Blvd.

Nordstrom and the Kindness Campaign Back to School Bash. See the fashion show, meet Enoughie and the magic mirror. Noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. $15 VIP tickets. Barton Creek Square.

Hey Lolly Music Sing-Along. 10 a.m. Saturday. $3. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St.

Thinkery. Baby Bloomers for children younger than 3. 9 a.m. Saturday. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Dr. Kold. Watch what happens when you play with liquid nitrogen. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday. Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City.

Toybrary Austin. Unicorn Swimming. Swim in the unicorn pool. 10 a.m. Saturday. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane.

BookPeople. 10:30 a.m. story times. Shapes and Sizes, Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Barnes & Noble events. 11 a.m. Saturday story time. “Cece Loves Science.”


Felt Food, for kids 4 and older. Learn to sew by making food out of felt. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday. $8.  Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

From top left, Jennifer and Kevin Miller react as their daughter, Laurel, 4, center, takes part in an inertia game at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN


Paramount Theatre’s summer series. “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” 1 p.m. Sunday. $6-$12. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.

Bullock MuseumFree First SundayFriendship. Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave.

Austin Symphony Hartman Concerts in the Park. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Free. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive.

Back to school: Reflections on lessons still to learn as son heads into senior year

We have hit the home stretch — that final year of grade school. Senior year of high school.

How did this happen?

Wasn’t it just yesterday that my husband and I dropped 5-year-old Benjamin off at his kindergarten classroom and stood outside the doorway trying to see what was going on while hoping he didn’t see us?

We’ve done it all: parent-teacher conferences, trips to the principal’s office, field trips, clubs, science fairs, impossibly challenging projects that had us cursing teachers’ names, tests failed, tests aced, school performances that had us beaming with pride.

Now, in this senior year, I can’t help thinking about all the things we still need to teach him. We thought we had more time.

RELATED: Taking a kid to college this month, read this

Luckily, this year Benjamin is actually taking a class called “How to Be an Adult,” because in between physics and calculus, sometimes real life skills take a back seat.

RELATED: Why college kids are coming back home sick

So, for Ben, here’s my list of things to learn this year:

Benjamin Villalpando holds up his learners permit after getting it earlier this year. Nicole Villalpando/Austin-American-Statesman

1. How to drive. Yes, you have a permit, and, yes, we practice, but in this world where Uber is at the touch of your fingertips, you’re not really seeing the point. And you’re not alone. A lot of your classmates aren’t licensed drivers either. Dude, it’s a life skill. Let me help you get it.

2. How to manage money. Debit cards, credit cards, checking accounts, that’s all something that happens in theory. This year we’re moving beyond the savings account to having a checking account with a debit card to practice working within a budget before college next year.

3. How to advocate for your own medical care. It’s time to practice how to make a doctor’s appointment, refill medication and use the insurance card. Mom needs to ease out of being the medical manager.

Ben Villalpando couldn’t wait to start kindergarten in 2006. Now he’s looking at colleges. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

4. How to feed yourself. Yes, you’re a wiz at making cookies, sandwiches and frozen pizza. Let’s try to expand those chef skills.

5. How to clothe yourself. Hooray, you finally mastered the washer and dryer, but shockingly, we haven’t really had you go shopping for clothes. Why? Because you hate it. But it’s time to head to the store, pick out your size and try things on, and then buy them with your debit card. Maybe if you knew how much those jeans cost, they wouldn’t be on the floor all the time.

6. How to read a map and navigate public transportation. If Mom or Dad have always driven you everywhere, can you find your way? Next year at college will you be able to get from your dorm to class, to the grocery store or anywhere else you might want to go?

7. How to have a conversation. In this world of texting, let’s make sure you can talk to people, make eye contact and be comfortable talking to a stranger. (Yes, I know we told you never to talk to strangers, but now you’re going to have to.)

8. How to advocate for yourself to get something fixed. If you have an issue with a store, a professor, a service provider, your dorm room, will you know how to effectively state your case and ask for what you need? Mom or Dad won’t be there to do it for you next year.

9. How to manage your time. That nice alarm that wakes you up every morning with a kiss? That won’t be coming to your dorm room. Nor will the reminder service that tells you to get off your phone and do your homework. You’ll have to do it yourself. Senior year is a great year to build up these skills.

10. How to access resources. If you had a problem, would you know where to turn? If Mom or Dad are the only ones with the power to Google or ask a school administrator what is available to you, what will happen next year? Will you be able to find academic counseling services, tutoring, or even know what the weather is going to be like that day and what clothing is appropriate?

I’m sure there is more to consider, more to teach and more to learn. This time next year, you’ll be off on a new adventure. And that will be wonderfully exciting  —and a little bit scary, too. Good luck, sweet Ben.

Shopping for school supplies? Pick up these things for teachers

The first day of school is coming. As you’re shopping for school supplies, consider picking up a few extra things to help your children’s teachers stock their classrooms.

The National Center for Education Statistics found that 94 percent of public school teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies. The center found that they spent an average of $479 each year. Of course, that greatly depended on the income level of the students at the school where they worked and how active the Parent Teacher Association was at that school.

Especially, as the year goes on, the supplies in the classroom start to dwindle.

The school supply aisle has supplies right now that both your kids and your teachers need. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN 2016

Right now, when the price of supplies are at their lowest, consider stocking up on some common things that teachers need. You can store them in your house and give them to teachers throughout the year, or give them to the teachers on Back to School night or at Meet the Teacher.

Consider these supplies:

  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Notebook paper
  • Printer paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Crayons
  • Scotch tape
  • Paper clips
  • Staples
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Erasers
  • Dry erase markers

Once school starts, ask teachers if they have a wish list, and then pick something on that list to give.

Have a teacher that doesn’t have a list? Consider a gift card to Amazon, Walmart or an office supply store. Then when the time comes that they need something, they can use that.