Stitch Fix enters the kids’ clothing realm with Stitch Fix Kids

Parents, hate to shop with your kids? Hate to drag them into the store, to the dressing room, through the check-out line? Need inspiration for what clothes to put them in?

A boys box from Stitch Fix Kids.

Stitch Fix is moving into children’s personal styling with Stitch Fix Kids. They will outfit kids sizes 2 Toddler to 14. Prices range from $10 to $35 per item. Each of the Kids Fixes boxes contain 8-12 items from brands such as Under Armour, Nike, Toms, Hanna Anderson, Sovereign Code. Stitch Fix also has an exclusive brand Rumi + Ryder as well.

Stitch Fix Kids says its focus is on clothing that can stand up to kids’ active lives.

A girl’s outfit from Stitch Fix Kids.

New and existing Stitch Fix clients can fill out a style profile on for each of their children and then pick the date to receive the first Kids Fix. You pay a $20 styling fee, which is applied to the purchase of clothing. You buy what you want and send back the rest. If you keep the whole box, you get a 25 percent discount.

Do you think this would be a good fit for you child?

RELATED: What happens with a Stitch Fix fan meets her stylist?

RELATED: Back to School shopping tips

Your kid’s grades might predict drug use, other risky behaviors

Good grades really do matter. This month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at data from the 2015  Youth Risk Behavior Survey to figure out if there was a link between a student’s grades and risky behavior. The study found that in 30 health behaviors, the students with poor grades were more likely to report higher levels of risky behavior and the opposite was true as well.

Sixth grade teacher Sarita Lakey, left, greets student Brayan Lopez, as he arrives at Austin Achieve public school for the start of a new school year. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Here are some  key observations:


The CDC recommends that schools districts and states fund programs that support the social emotional learning, not just academic learning.


“As our nation’s children embark on another school year, it’s important to remember that health and academic performance are not mutually exclusive,” said CDC Director  Dr.B renda Fitzgerald in a press release. “When it comes to youth, health and education professionals should work in concert with communities and parents to help them create the best possible environment for the health, well-being and future success of the next generation.”

The thing that strikes me: Kids who eat breakfast, kids who are physically active, kids who attend school, kids who make good grades: those are usually kids who have someone paying attention to what they are doing. They are being set up for success.

10 things to know about Back to School nights

Tina Berrum with PODER2Educate assists Lake Travis Elementary School parent Tomas Correa with the online student enrollment process at the Lake Travis ISD Educational Development Center. Back to School nights are a chance for parents to see what their kids do all day. Marco Alvarado/Lake Travis school district

Back to School nights are upon us. I know we have two this week and if I still had a kid in elementary school, I’d have three.

Before you go, keep these things in mind:

  1. This isn’t the day to get personal. In elementary school, your child’s teacher has 20+ students. In middle school and high school, they could have 150+ students. You’re not going to ask questions like, “How is little Johnny doing?” or try to convey information about what your child needs from your teacher. Schedule a time to meet with the teacher at another time or send a follow up email.
  2. Ask questions, but ask general questions that apply to everyone. Sometimes teachers, especially in high school and middle school, have to give the same presentation five or six times. They might skip a step. Make sure you leave with the basics: what are they studying, how are they graded, what kinds of projects will they be doing, where can your kids find the work if they are unsure or are absent from school. Bonus if you find out why the teacher is passionate about what they teach.
  3. Your teachers have worked a full day. Don’t hang out at the end of the night to talk to them. They want to go home to their own families, their own beds.
  4. If your teachers ask for your information, give it to them. This is a great chance for the teachers to confirm your contact information. It also gives them a record that you were there and sends the signal to them that you’re invested in your child’s education.
  5. Compare notes. Talk to your children about what you learned at back to school night. You might even ask them in advance what information they want to know or are unclear about in their class or classes. If your children say one thing and a teacher says another, send a follow up email.
  6. Pace yourself, you parents of middle-schoolers and high-schoolers. Sometimes you actually cannot physically get to every class, especially if your kid has a schedule that takes them from the gym at one end of the school to a math class at the other end of the school and up a staircase in a four-minute passing period. If you have a kid that actually gives you the schedule ahead of time, study it and figure out if you need to skip a class or two to get to the important ones.
  7. Eat something before you go. You hangry and hundreds of other hangry parents isn’t going to be good in narrow hallways. You also won’t be able to take in the teacher’s information.
  8. Be patient with the other parents, especially if it’s their first time in the school. They have no idea where they are going. Try to help them if you happen to know or look for a student volunteer to ask. If you do get lost, ask someone rather than spend all your time wandering in the wrong direction.
  9. Do not bring your student. It’s already a lot of people in the hallways, and your student already has been there for hours. Let your student be at home doing homework.
    Do bring a jacket, a bottle of water and something to take notes on. It gets very cold in some classes, hot in others. Water keeps  you thinking and less hangry and a lot of teachers have visual presentations rather than paper, so you’ll want to take notes or take a picture of their digital presentation.
  10. Ask teachers what they need from you. Many will have a wish list posted. Ask if they need help with chaperoning or if you have a talent that applies to what they teach, identify yourself and your skill in a follow up email.

Remember, they are just as nervous to meet you as you are to meet them. Everyone’s trying to make a good impression as we start this school year.

5 thoughts on this first day of school

Are you ready for this day? DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

This has been a weird year with many school districts going back to school on different days. Today, though, students in Austin, Eanes, Bastrop, Manor, Liberty Hill and Burnet districts head back to the classroom.

If you have one of those students, how did your morning go?

Ben Villalpando starts 11th grade with a big glass of milk and some sass for his mother trying to take his first-day-of-school photo. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

Here are my five random thoughts about this morning:

  1. 5 a.m. is way too early. That’s when we have to start our day to get everyone showered and out the door for high school and middle school. And no, there’s not enough coffee in the world that is going to make this day better.

    Even the dog doesn’t want to take the photo on the first day of school for Ava Villalpando. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman
  2. The first day of school photo is no fun when you’re in middle school and high school. I now have to sneak them when my kids aren’t looking. If you had willing participants, we’d love to see those photos. Send them to or tag them on Instagram and Twitter at #atxfirstday.
  3. Where that bus at? There’s always that moment of panic when you think… am I in the right place? Is this really the bus stop? Is this bus actually going to come and take my child away? Is it really the first day of school?

    Travis Bradley and Julian Gonzalez run for the bus. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
  4. There is not enough patience in the world to get this many new parents through the car pool line at any school. Yet, we’re all going to have to pack our patience in our new backpacks today and all week. New parents don’t understand they are going the wrong way or that they can’t just stop in the middle of the road to let their kid off. And if you’re a driver who heads through school zones… please, be aware on this day and all days and PUT DOWN YOUR CELL PHONE. Thank you.
  5. How did they get this old? I just brought them home from the hospital and now they are learning about physics and algebra. These years are flying by at a lightening pace, yet every day of the school year feels like an eternity.

Happy first day of school!

What should I say to my kids about Trump?

Parents all over America have been asking this question this week after the president said in a news conference on Tuesday about the protests in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend:

“I think there is blame on both sides. You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”

President Donald Trump holds a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, Aug. 15. From left: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Al Drago/The New York Times

And then:  “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”

His tweets, his speeches and the footage from Charlottesville and from the terrorist attack in Barcelona have been playing on many of our TV sets all week.

Ava Siegler wrote “How Do I Explain This to My Kids? Parenting in the Age of Trump.”

Ava Siegler, a clinical psychologist and former director of the Institute for Child, Adolescent & Family Studies in New York City, wrote the book “How Do I Explain This to My Kids? Parenting in the Age of Trump.” ($15.95, The New Press) The book features a collection of essays by parents who are also writers talking about what they told their children after the election. The parents are Muslims, Jews, African Americans, Latinos, women — all groups that Trump’s rhetoric attacked during the election and since.

Siegler is clearly coming from an anti-Trump bias in the book, but she has action steps for both parents who voted for him and parents who did not.

“When I wrote this book, one of the things I thought about is the presidency of Donald Trump was going to be a national disaster and parents were going to have to be the first responders,” Siegler says.

Parents have speak to their children about the things that Trump is doing that is not OK, Siegler says. All the values that you hold true and want to pass onto your children, you have to continue to pass onto your children even if the president is acting against those values, Siegler says.

Her advice:

Remind them it’s not OK to be a bully, and that we stand up to bullies.

It’s not OK to support people who say racial slurs or anti-Semitic slurs. It’s not OK to say them yourself or repeat them.

It’s not OK to say things or do things against women.

It’s not OK to say things against immigrants because all of us where immigrants at one point.

If you’re a parent who did vote for Trump but don’t agree with his rhetoric, you can explain to your child that you voted for him because you thought he would bring back jobs or help the economy, she says, but then remind them: “‘I voted for him, but never thought he would represent this point of view, and I don’t agree with him.'”

“Parents have to be really, really active to reassert their values,” she says. “‘Lying is wrong. We don’t believe in bullying and you are weak when you are bullying. We don’t believe in boasting and bragging; it makes you look insecure.'”

Siegler has these guidelines about how much information kids are getting about what’s going on:

Kids younger than 5: Should not be exposed to TV news. Siegler says that this is especially important because the level of language Trump is using is at about a 5-year-old level and easy for them to understand.

Kids in elementary school: Watch the news with them and discuss it, but not before bedtime.

Teenagers: They an watch on their own but set up the environment to discuss the events with them.

Sometimes, teenagers will take an opposing view than their parents because that’s part of their job of separating themselves from you. It’s important to have the debate with them. Let them defend their views while expressing your views.

“We need to love our kids no matter what their political positions are,” she says. “You don’t want to fight against it, but you can erode it in different ways.”

If kids are express their frustration about why this is happening and why people don’t do something about it, parents can give them a civics lesson.

Teach them about the three branches of the government and how they work.

Teach them about what it would take to start the impeachment process.

Remind them of the ways that we can stand up through marches, through writing our elected leaders, through volunteering, through finding like-minded people to engage in conversations with.

Just make sure that this doesn’t consume their lives. Let them be kids, do homework, hang out with friends, too.

Charlottesville also reminds us that a lot of our kids never really have been given enough history in school and might not understand what happened in the Civil War and why those statues of Confederate heroes were put up. It might be time to watch Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” (It’s on Netflix) or go to the LBJ Presidential Library to see what was happening during the Civil Rights era.

“Ask them what they think,” she says, “Don’t start an argument.”

Neo-Nazis marching and threats of nuclear war against North Korea might also make it time to explore more what happened in World War II. Find the neighbor down the street who served or start watching some documentaries about the Holocaust and the after effects of Hiroshima.

With kids starting school this month, these debates are going to seep into the hallways. As much as we want our children to be vocal about their beliefs, remind them that not everyone will agree with them. There are good people in their schools who voted differently and believe differently.

“You have to protect them,” she says. Remind them to “‘only talk to people who are like-minded, don’t get engaged in arguments. You’re not here to change people’s minds.'”

It’s also time to check your school’s policies about bullying and racial and anti-Semitic slurs. Remind them that if they hear it, even if it’s not directed to them, they should report it to an adult.

RELATED: Back to school: What should you do if your child is being bullied or is the bully?


Taking a child to college this month? Read this

The days are long, the years are short.

No parent knows this more than the one who is in a packed car right now, taking their child to college for the first time. Wasn’t it just yesterday that you dropped your kid off at kindergarten and worried if they would make a friend?

It’s time to let go, which is especially hard if you’ve been as my kids would say “up in their business” for 18 years.

Last year, incoming freshman Maxwell Gaddy, from Midland gets help from his father Chris and sister Jenna, 16, moving into Duran Residence Hall Friday morning on the UT-Austin campus. 

Especially, if you’ve been that helicopter parent, now’s the time to land and let your kid take off.  Last year a SMU study showed just how bad helicopter parenting can be on kids years later


The push and pull between adult and child that happens so acutely during senior year of high school and freshman year of college prompted mother-daughter team Margo Ewing Woodacre and Steffany Bane Carey to write the book “I’ll Miss You Too: The Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students”. Woodacre tells us:  “It’s a tough thing, to really let go and trust.”

Margo Ewing Woodacre and Steffany Bane Carey wrote “I’ll Miss You Too: The Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students.”

Here are some key things experts suggest parents and children hammer out before college starts (or ASAP for those of you in the car or who have already dropped off kids):

How will they pay for things? If they are not already on a separate bank account, get them on one now and have them start managing their funds. Will they need to work? How much money will they need to make? How much money will you give to them? What will happen if they need more money or overdraw their bank account? Will they have a credit card, and what will it be used for?

Do they know how to do laundry, make a bed and feed themselves? Seriously, check on this. If they’ve never run a washing machine, teach them; even if you have to go down to the dorm laundry room and show them there. Send them with some quick easy microwavable recipes for basic meals. Teach them about basic cleanliness and make sure they have the supplies in their dorm room to do it. Then let go. You’ve done your best.

What about the car? Are they bringing one with them? Where will they park? Do they know how often it needs to be tuned up or how to change a tire or whom to call in a roadside emergency?

How will you communicate? Do you expect daily phone calls or texts or do they just need to check in once a week, like we did when we went to school? You want to be in touch, but you also want to be wary of them not connecting with friends at school because they are always calling mom. If you’ve been that helicopter parent (and you know you are) that has known about every test and every social dilemma for the last 18 years, it’s time to get out of their day-to-day business.

What are the expectations about grades? What will happen if they fail a class? What grade-point average do they expect to have compared with what you’re expecting? How will they stay organized and on top of their assignments? Where can they go if they need academic help?

Talk about the bad things that can happen. Don’t lecture, but help them form a plan for when they’ve been drinking too much. Talk about the importance of safety in numbers and having friends who look out for you.

When will they come home and when will you visit? If you have a kid who is staying close to home, you need to set these parameters now. You don’t want the kid who comes home every weekend and doesn’t engage in college life. If your kid is prone to that, perhaps have a once-a-week or once-every-other-week dinner with him and invite him to bring his friends. You’ll make sure your child is connecting with people at college, but you won’t entirely cut him off, either.

What happens when they get sick? Does your child know where to go on campus for medical attention? Does your child know what to do about insurance and have his insurance card? Do they know how to get their medications?

What do they need to do before they get to school? Create a checklist of all the items they need to buy, all the arrangements that need to be made. Make them responsible for getting those things done.

How much time do you expect to be with them during school breaks? They want to be with their friends; you want to be with them. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

What are the rules when they come home? Is there still a curfew, which might seem silly after three months of no curfew? Can they just agree to let you know their plans and timing? When do you expect to see them? You’ve got to get on their calendar before they come home.

What will you do with yourself? This is an excellent time to find a new hobby, take up volunteer work or learn a new skill. You’ve earned a little you time.

Remember, while your child is in classes this semester and beyond, remember to resist the urge to handle everything for them. That might mean that if he runs out of money that month, you don’t refill his bank account. It might mean that you don’t ship her half the contents of her room that she forgot. It also means that you never ever ever get involved in solving his academic problems.

Ellen Bremen, a professor at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash., wrote the book “Say This, Not That to Your Professor.”

Ellen Bremen wrote “Say This, Not That to Your Professor.”

Her best tips for students:

Don’t make excuses. A professor doesn’t care why you have to leave early, come late, miss class or turn in assignments late. An advance warning is nice if it comes with a proactive statement such as, “I’m going to miss next Thursday, but I have already read the chapter for that day and completed the assignment. Can I call you if I have more questions?”

Be proactive early. Need a certain grade to make your scholarship? Talk with the professor in the early weeks of class and ask what you will need to do to make that grade. Many professors also will read drafts of papers and give suggestions, if done in advance.

Turning in work late is better than not turning in any work at all. Most professors will include in the class syllabus the way late work will be handled, but if it’s not addressed, students should ask.

Be respectful of professors’ time. Don’t expect a professor to email you right back on a Saturday afternoon. Professors also might tell you on the syllabus or on the first day of class what their response time to emails might be.

Office hours are there to be used. Professors want you to talk to them. Most professors‘ contracts require them to make themselves available to you. You also can email them or call them to set up a time outside office hours.

Don’t like your grade? You have resources. Talk to the professor in a professional way first; then you can go to a department head.

Be respectful in the way you talk to your professor. Some professors don’t mind being called by their first names; others think it’s disrespectful. You should find out how your professor wants to be addressed.

The relationship you build with your professor can help long after class ends. It’s good training for the relationship you will later have as an employee with your boss. Professors also can cut through red tape if you need a class but can’t get it or need access to school resources. They also often have ties to your future career and can help with references or alerting you to jobs.

“I wish this book was handed to every single student walking in, ” Bremen says. “It’s a lesson in interpersonal communication.”

RELATED: When looking at colleges, are you asking about mental health services?

What are you doing with the family this hot weekend in Austin? Celebrate pets, bats and the eclipse Aug. 18-20

Missy Woodard holds her son, Bryce, 3, so that he can see a Snow Corn snake at the 2014 Austin Pet Expo. LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2014

It’s going to be a scorcher this last weekend before many kids head back to school on Monday or Tuesday.

Check out what is happening in and around Austin for families to enjoy:


Texas Museum of Science & Technology. Star Party. Look at the stars. 9 p.m. Fridays. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park.

Wildflower Center. Sprouts. Hands-on preschool program. 10 a.m. Fridays. Nature Play Hour. Play in the Family Garden. 11 a.m. Saturdays. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave.

Eclipse Planetarium Show. The Texas Museum of Science and Technology’s Discovery Dome mobile planetarium is visiting the Wells Branch Community Library, 6:30 p.m. Friday. Get free glasses and participate in interactive activities. 15001 Wells Port Drive.

Family Movie Matinee: “Wizard of Oz.” 3:30 p.m. Friday, Old Quarry Branch.

“The Wizard of Oz” is at the library on Friday. Warner Bros.


Bat Fest. Celebrate all things bat with music, children’s activities and more. 4 p.m.-midnight Saturday. $15 adults, free for children younger than 8. Austin American-Statesman, 305 S. Congress Ave.

Katherine Van Hook, 10, hung out at the Bat Fest in her bat hat in 2007. Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Northside Kids at the Domain Northside Back to School. Enjoy family performances for ages 2 to 12. Catch ColdTowne Theater 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. You have to sign a release to attend, and parents must be present.

Science Saturday at Texas Museum of Science & Technology tells you all about the sun with activities about heat, solar energy, color, ways we use the sun’s energy, and the best ways to view the eclipse. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park.

Wildflower Center. Nature Play Hour. Play in the Family Garden. 11 a.m. Saturdays. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave.

Toybrary Austin. Back to School Bash. Play with bubbles in the backyard sprinkler party with Miss Milly McSilly. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday. $10 per child.  Date night babysitting. For ages 1-5. $25 first child, $10 siblings. 5-8 p.m. Saturdays. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane.

Thinkery. Baby Bloomers. Have an animal adventure. For infant to 3. Learn about the sea all month long. 9 a.m. Mondays and Saturdays. Special guests throughout the month. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

“Jurassic Park” with UT Dino Museum. The museum brings the bones and other science materials. You watch the movie. 7 p.m. Saturday. $25 a car, plus admission for more than 2 people. Blue Starlight Mini Urban Drive-in. 12419 Lowden Lane.

BookPeople events. James Crowley reads “Monsterland.” 6 p.m. Saturday. Story times: Back to School. 11:30 a.m. Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Barnes & Noble Events: 11 a.m. Saturday story time at all locations: “Nothing Rhymes with Orange.” Saturday.

Literature Live! Presents: “The Fifolet.” For ages 8-12. 3 p.m. Saturday, Recycled Reads Bookstore.

Bow Wow Reading with Bonnie the Dog. 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Yarborough Branch.

ACT vs. SAT —What’s Right for Me? 10 a.m. Saturday, Ruiz Branch.

Fix It Clinic. Learn how to fix your broken stuff. Noon Saturday, Recycled Reads Book Store.


Hideout Kids Presents “Once Upon a Whaa?!” 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 27. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. $12-$8.

7th Annual Austin Pet Expo. See all kinds of pets and things for your pet. Free. Bring your pet. Palmer Event Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Thinkery. Suminagashi Fabrics. Learn the ancient Japanese marbling technique. 11:15 a.m., 1:15 a.m. or 3:15 a.m. Saturday-Sunday. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Austin Summer Musical for Children: “Jungle Book.” 11 a.m. 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday. Free. Boyd Vance Theater at George Washington Carver Museum. 1165 Angelina St.

Back to School Book Sale. 0 a.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Yarborough Branch.

Hill Country Science Mill is exploring eclipses on Sunday.


Round Rock ISD Partners in Education Foundation School Supplies Sunday/Kutz for Kidz Event. Get free supplies and more. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Hernandez Middle School, 1901 Sunrise Road, Round Rock.

Total Eclipse of the Sun. Celebrate the upcoming eclipse and learn why eclipses happen. You can make your own art using the sun to burn wood and make a solar system mobile. You’ll also get free eclipse glasses to take home from the Johnson City Library. 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Hill Country Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City.

PBS Kids at the Alamo. “Ready Jet Go! The Moon and More.” 11 a.m. Sunday, Lakeline.

Austin Symphony Hartman Concerts in the Park. 7:30 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 27. Free. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive.



Let’s talk homework: Where, when and how are you going to get it done

It’s the start of the school year. A chance to start fresh. If the homework was a battle all last year, figure out ways to bring down the stress with these tips:

Trish Morrison helps her daughter Delilah with homework while her husband Homero Garcia preps dinner in the kitchen. Laura Skelding/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Figure out where is the best place in the house to do homework. For younger kids, it might be the kitchen table or a space in a common area. For older kids, they might need a space in their bedrooms for maximum concentration. If they are in their room, let them know you might be checking on them (especially if they are the kid who plays video games instead of doing homework or daydreams constantly).

Clear off a desk or table. Make sure there is good light there and a comfortable chair. Set up school supplies such as notebook paper, pencils, pens, colored pens and glue sticks. If the kids need a computer, is there one that can be used there?

Get your desk space ready for homework. Container Store

Create an organization system for important papers that will be referenced throughout the school year, homework that needs to be done and homework that has been done and needs to be turned in, and papers that need a parent signature.

Outsource the frustration. Sometimes you and your child working together on getting homework done is not a good thing. For older kids, find out when each teacher has office hours. For younger kids, consider scheduling an older kid or adult tutor to come and help them get homework done. They’ll make it fun.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these suggestions:

  • Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework starting at a young age. Children need a consistent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
  • Schedule ample time for homework; build this time into choices about participation in after school activities.
  • Establish a household rule that the TV and other electronic distractions stay off during homework time.
  • Supervise computer and Internet use.
  • By high school, it’s not uncommon for teachers to ask students to submit homework electronically and perform other tasks on a computer. If your child doesn’t have access to a computer or the internet at home, work with teachers and school administration to develop appropriate accommodations.
  • Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child’s homework for her.
  • Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
  • If your child is struggling with a particular subject, speak with your child’s teacher for recommendations on how you or another person can help your child at home or at school. If you have concerns about the assignments your child is receiving, talk with their teacher.
  • If your child is having difficulty focusing on or completing homework, discuss this with your child’s teacher, school counselor, or health care provider.
  • For general homework problems that cannot be worked out with the teacher, a tutor may be considered.
  • Some children need extra help organizing their homework. Checklists, timers, and parental supervision can help overcome homework problems.
  • Some children may need help remembering their assignments. Work with your child and their teacher to develop an appropriate way to keep track of their assignments – such as an assignment notebook.

Take that great first day of school picture

Oh, this school thing is happening. Wednesday students in Lake Travis, Hutto, Elgin, Lockhart, Coupland and Taylor ISDs head back. On Thursday, Georgetown and Wimberley students join them. We have a bunch, including Austin, Eanes, Bastrop, Manor, Burnet and Liberty Hill, going on Monday; Round Rock and Lago Vista head back on Aug. 22, Dripping Springs on Aug. 23, and the rest head back on Aug. 28.

RELATED: Do you know when your school starts? 

We want to see your first day of school pictures! If you do remember to take a photo, send it to or tag it on Twitter or Instagram #atxfirstday.

Meredith Hemphill at her new school, Gullet Elementary, in 2004. Sarah Barnes

When you do take your photos, consider these things:

Think about the background and location. Make sure it doesn’t overpower the people in the photo.

Worry about the lighting. You want to see their faces and what they are wearing, not the shadows on their face or behind them.

Get a full-body shot if you can. You want to be able to see how little they are compared with what’s around them.

Take it in an identifying place to help you remember the year. We love to do it in front of the class list or the teacher’s door. It usually will say the grade and the teacher’s name.

Ben Villalpando couldn’t wait to start kindergarten in 2006. Now he’s looking at high schools.

Take it in the same spot each year. For years, we took our photos in front of the crayons that said “Cowan” at Cowan Elementary. Now we tend to have to sneak a photo session in the car on the way to the high school bus stop or the middle school drop-off line. The same background helps us see their growth.

Don’t worry about smiles. They might not smile. That makes it all the more memorable of who they are at this age.





Know what to ask when you Meet the teacher this week

This week, many elementary schools have Meet the Teacher events.

The folks at Edutopia website have compiled a list of 19 meaningful questions to ask your child’s teacher for a productive conversation during meet-the-teacher night.

Sixth grade teacher Sarita Lakey, left, greets student Brayan Lopez, as he arrives at Austin Achieve public school for the start of a new school year. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

As schools and parents across Central Texas prepare for the meet-and-greet, here are five questions from the Edutopia list that would work for most any grade level:

  • How will you respond if or when my child struggles in class?
  • What are the most important and complex (content-related) ideas my child needs to understand by the end of the year?
  • What kinds of questions do you suggest that I ask my children on a daily basis about your class?
  • Is there technology you’d recommend that can help support my child in self-directed learning?
  • What are the most common barriers you see to academic progress in your classroom?

Remember, Meet the Teacher is as much a get-to-know you session for you with the teacher and for the teacher with you. It’s also a crazy time for teachers who are meeting as many as 25 to 30 students and their parents for the first time.

Here are our don’ts for that day:

Find more information and tips about back to school with our special back to school site,

— Statesman education editor Robert Eckhart contributed to this blog.