School Registration Necessities: How to Get Your Child Ready for School Without Breaking the Bank
By Joan Whetzel
It's never too early or too late to get ready for the next school year. Parents can begin planning for the next school year even before the current school year lets out, during the entire summer, or just before the next school year begins. Sometimes, parents have to plan mid-year because they are moving, so their child is changing schools and school districts.
When it comes to planning for school supply purchases, you may notice that stores set up school supply and uniform displays early into the summer, almost as soon as school lets out. Instead of waiting until the last minute to do all your preparations, why not spread out the necessary school preparations and the cost of school supplies over the course of the summer if possible? Better yet, spread it out over the course of the current school year. Starting with updating your children's immunizations.
Pull out each child's immunization records. Find out if any are required for the upcoming school year. Then schedule an appointment with your family physician, a local clinic, your state's Department of Health, or your school district's immunization program.
Many school districts offer free or low cost immunizations during scheduled "clinics" at one or more of their school campuses. Check with the school district to find out if they offer this program as well as the dates and times.
If your family has moved across state lines, you will need to check with the state Department of Health to see if their immunization regulations are different than those of the state you recently moved from. Then catch up on your children's immunizations accordingly.
If your child or children are behind on immunizations and need to be caught up, be aware that all the missing immunizations cannot be given at the same time. For instance, if the child needs 2 doses of the polio vaccine, the can get the second one 1 to 2 months after the second dose. So get the first dose as soon as possible. In most cases, if the next dose cannot be given until after the school year starts, most school districts will give children a 30 day grace period to make up the missing doses.
Each state may vary a bit, but in the State of Texas the following immunization schedule is required:
- Children entering kindergarten should have received: 2 doses of Hepatitis A; 2 doses of Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR); 1 dose of Vericella (Chicken Pox); and 4 doses of the Polio vaccine.
- Students entering the 7th grade should have received: 1 dose of Vericella, 1 dose of the Meningococcal vaccine, and 1 dose of the Tetanus, Pertussis, Diptheria, vaccine.
Check with your state's Department of Health Services for information about immunizations for school and child-care requirements as well as to locate charts showing current immunization requirements or immunization schedules.
Registration usually begins in late July or early August. Check the school or school district websites to find out registration dates and times as well as what documents are required to register your children in a new school. Generally, once a child is registered in one school, they remain registered in that school (elementary, middle high, high school) until they move up to the next level of school or are withdrawn for other reasons (to be homeschooled, to move out of state) in which case they need to be registered in the new school or registered with the state or school district for home schooling.
Generally speaking, the documents required for registering a child in a new school are as follows:
· Proof of residence in the school district (i.e. a recent utility bill or house/apartment rental agreement)
· Official birth certificate or other proof of the student's identity
· Immunization Records
· Report card or transcript from the previous school
· Withdrawal sheet from the previous school
· The child's Social Security card
· Application for Determination of a Minor's Residence (if the student lives with someone other than the parent, e.g. grandparents, guardian)
Registration occurs in the front office of the campus your child will be attending. The days and times are set up by the school itself or by the school district, so check their websites early so you know when registration dates occur.
The School Schedule
While schools around the country generally run on similar schedules, the actual start and stop dates as well as vacation dates vary somewhat. Check the school and school district websites to locate the school schedules for your area. The schedule sites should also include start and end times for the school day at each level of education (elementary, middle, or high school). If you have access to a printer, print out a copy of the school schedule. If not, try to save a copy to your computer desktop so you have it available at all times.
Check early to find out if buses are offered to children in your school district, whether there are distance restrictions (i.e. the child must live at least a mile away or would be forced to cross busy streets to get to school), and whether there is any cost to put your children on the bus. The school and school district sites will also provide information about bus routes and bust stops based on your address, as well as the morning pick up time and afternoon drop off time for each stops.
Teacher Assignments, Class Schedules, and School Supplies
Schools usually offer a "meet the teacher night" or orientation day/evening for students in their district. This allows students to become acquainted with their new teachers or new schools and find out what will be expected of them in the upcoming school year. By checking online or visiting the school in the last few weeks before the beginning of the new school year, parents can find out who their children's elementary teachers will be as well as class schedules for middle and high school students. They can also obtain a list of necessary school supplies. Most school districts have the school supply lists up as early as June so parents can spread out the cost of the school supplies over the summer instead of having to purchase them all at once right before school starts.
Check the school and school district websites early and check back fairly often to stay updated on any changes that may occur prior to the start of the new school year. Getting your children prepared early for the new school year means they'll be ready - and hopefully excited - when the school bell rings.
School supplies are the one thing that can be bought year round. Watch for sales on pencils, paper, backpacks, lunch boxes, etc. Some of these things can be bought in bulk, saving you even more money. Stash them in a school supply box or other container until they are needed.
All of these things can be done any time of the year. Spreading the cost out will certainly help the pocketbook.