hey mama,

Orlando Mom Collective is thrilled to bring you our Ultimate Back to School Guide. The goal of this guide is to be a one-stop resource for local moms who are prepping for back to school. This guide offers ALL of the resources needed for a successful school year in the Central Florida area.

Back to school can be filled with lots of joy, but it can also be overwhelming and stressful, especially when you are new to school or if mom has a few kids!

It is our hope that this guide helps provide moms in Central Florida with answers to some common questions, access to resources and assurance that you aren’t alone navigating these waters. To our readers, we sincerely hope you will find this guide to be a helpful part of your back to school journey this year. Whether you are a new mom entering the school world this year or sending your child back to school, we want you to know that you are supported.

what you'll find in this guide:

‣ information about back to school- from start dates, supply lists, and local events to printables, school lunches and kids health
‣ content about back to school (such as getting ready for kindergarten and dealing with teens!) written by local moms
‣ a bit more about Orlando Mom Collective and how to get involved in community with other local moms
‣ real mom experiences, encouragement, and more!

Ultimate Back to School Guide

Orange County: August 10th

Seminole County: August 10th

Brevard County: August 10th

Volusia County: August 15th

Osceola County: August 10th

Tax Free Shopping!

TAX FREE SHOPPING

The Florida Department of Revenue has put out a detailed list of what back to school items can be purchased without paying sales taxes. Consumers can purchase qualifying school supplies exempt from tax during the 2022 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, which begins on Sunday July 25 and extends through Sunday August 7.

Clear the TEACHER lists!

Calling all Central Florida teachers!

We are so GRATEFUL for everything that you did to make last school year a success! We want to help you gear up for this new school year!! If you have an Amazon wishlist, share it in the comments on THIS Facebook post for our incredible followers to contribute if they can.
A N D……
If you want a chance to WIN a $100 Amazon Gift Card to clear your class list, head on over to our blog post and comment there with the number of years you’ve been teaching!
We will choose ONE of you from the blog post comments to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card from our partner, Stephen Vargo, REALTOR, to help you with your back to school list!!

Supply Lists

There’s a great website, School Supply Lists . com for finding your child’s supply list for the year. All you do is enter your zip code, click on your child’s school name and their grade to see the list. Otherwise, you can just visit your school district or school’s website for more information.

District Websites

Back to School Events + Supply Distribution

Back to School Health

Prepping for the first day of school is a lot. From new sleep routines, to first day jitters, heading to school for the first time or back to school can be overwhelming for kids. We’ve got a few resources to help! From sleep tips to anxiety and school safety to “what if they get lice”…we’ve got you covered.

First Day of School

Back-to-school time is one of the busiest times of year for families, so we at Orlando Mom want to make your life a little bit easier! If you are a parent to a first time student or a veteran student, our first day of school section will  make day one a little smoother!

First Day of School Printables

Get your cameras ready momtographers! The kids are going back to school!

Capture your first day photo with these First Day Of School Printables!

first day ready checklist

First Day Ready Checklist

Summer, why do you always slip away so fast??? As we are {very} quickly approaching the start of the school year, we’ve decided to put together a First Day Ready Checklist to help us moms get back into the swing of things.

First Day DIY Pics

 It doesn’t matter if your kids are attending Homeschool, Virtual School or returning to the classroom they are going to experience a First Day. Why not make that first day as special as we possibly can with 3 fun DIY crafts that will be great for First Day photo props or even classroom decorations.

Back to School Communication

Communicating effectively with your child’s teacher is paramount to have a successful school experience for your little ones. The following suggestions may help create healthy dialogue with your child’s teacher!

Communicating With Your Child’s Teacher

1. Don’t use Open House, the parent pick-up line, or a random spotting at Target as a time to discuss your child’s behavior or grade.

This catches the teacher off guard, and you may not get a fully accurate response. Send an email or leave a voicemail with your question or concern.

2. Instead of heading straight to an administrator, communicate with the teacher first.

The teacher feels less threatened and is likely to be more open to what you have to say.

3. Be specific in your email or voicemail.

The more information the teacher has, the better she can respond to your question.

4. Give the teacher a few days to reply.

Sometimes the teacher needs to gather information in order to correctly and completely answer you.

5. Don’t assume your child has all of the facts.

Children can miss the big picture of the classroom. And sometimes…sometimes our children lie to get out of trouble with us as parents. There. I said it. We don’t want to believe it could be our kid, but it does happen.

6. Please don’t attack.

Be direct and express your concern, but avoid inflammatory language. Understandably, this is your child’s well-being we’re discussing, and emotions run high. But you’ll more likely receive the response you’re hoping for when respect is part of the dialogue.

7. If your child is struggling, listen to the advice the teacher offers.

Teachers are taught to recognize learning difficulties. They know red flags and can often recognize early warning signs for an educational need in which outside assistance may be beneficial.

8. Support the educational process.

Nothing is worse for us as teachers than to be demeaned or for our work to be diminished by the parent in front of the child. The child will struggle to take our classroom seriously the rest of the year.

9. Recognize mistakes in this life happen.

Teachers will be wrong. When grace can be offered, do so with overflowing buckets.

10. Offer encouragement.

In all my years teaching I have only ever received two or three parent emails just as a thank you. I’ll tell you, those blessed my heart more than any scented Christmas candle.

I know that not all teachers fall into the perfection category. For sure, there are teachers that need lessons in effective communication. There are also times when it’s best to bring in an administrator or guidance counselor. However, it’s important to start the dialogue with the teacher in way that will ultimately bring about success for your child.

Because here’s the magic. A good teacher knows she can’t do her job as effectively without the supportive parent. An open, healthy dialogue with your child’s teacher will only enhance your child’s experience in the classroom.

Create a Schedule, Make Back to School Easier

Transitioning back to school can be rough. The nights of staying up late and sleeping in are suddenly over. Playtime in the pool is mostly reserved for Friday nights, and schedules need to be followed. That being said, there are a few tips to make this transition a little easier.

“Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing.” – Ricki Lake

Tweens + Teens

Tweens and Teens are hard….a few moms share their perspective and advice on navigating these waters. Plus, internet safety tips and math and writing phobia tips.

If you have a high schooler, you’ll want to protect them with these proper legal forms once they graduate!

Homeschooling

Are you a homeschooler with advice or tips to share? We’d love to hear from you!

School Lunches

4 Meal Prep Hacks

Raise your hands if you are ready to say “sayonara summer” and head back to school. You guys! Will. It. EVER. End?! Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad we got to spend all the time. We laughed. We cried. And we cried. And they fought. We laughed a little more. And then we all settled into the weird place that is the last few weeks of summer. So here we are, checking off supplies on the lists, visiting the dentist, adjusting bedtimes, sprucing up the unkept, sun-bleached hair, and preparing ourselves for the year ahead.

The Evolution of the School Lunch

We all start the school year off with amazing intentions. This will be the year where we send our kid to school with the “Pinterest Perfect” lunch and somehow we always end up at “crumbs in a baggie” by mid year. Here is what I have noticed about the evolution of the school lunch. Indulge me (and your funny bone) if you will.

Back to School Lunch Essentials

Gear up for back-to-school with the must-have products for school and home. The following list of essentials was crafted by a busy mom of two who is always on the lookout for the latest and greatest back-to-school gear!

From wipes to sandwich wrappers, these are a definite go-to for back to school!

Picky Eaters

It’s back-to-school time – that time of year for lots of great blog posts with suggestions for making healthy school lunches. Pictures accompanying these articles run the gamut from ultra-Pinteresty to simple suggestions for quick and healthy lunches. And for just a fleeting moment, these posts make me feel … hopeful. “This year will be different,” I think. But the tug of reality wakes me from my daydream, because one of my children is a PICKY EATER of epic proportion. And I don’t throw the phrase “epic proportion” out there lightly. She’s a trifecta of picky – taste, texture, and tenacious.

Printable Lunch Notes

Just add giggles.

Back to School means back to packing lunches. With three kids in elementary school who carry a lunch box four days a week (only buying on pizza day of course) it can become rather monotonous for me and them. I’ve put together these fun little {PRINTABLE} lunch box notes to tuck in alongside the sandwich, granola bar, and fruit fuel session to make them giggle and let them know that you are thinking about them…even if you are celebrating the return of the school routine like I am.

Lunch Box Ideas

Here are some of our favorite healthy, toddler-size lunchbox meals.

I love the fact that we have the freedom to pack her lunch and that I know what she’s eating each day, but some nights, it’s a task. We typically do a Bento style lunch each day with silicone cupcake holders. They are small and offer great variety.

Back to School Shopping

The ABCs of Back-to-School Budgeting

$37,100,000. That’s how much American families spent on back-to-school supplies for their kids in K-12 last year, according to a study by the National Retail Federation. On average, that’s close to $848.90 per household.

If the thought of that blow to your wallet has you wincing, you’re not alone. No matter how savvy the shopper, it’s hard to navigate the onslaught of back-to-school deals and crowded store aisles. But a few quick tips can help you reduce the impact on your finances and educate your kids about good saving habits.

Back-to-School Must Haves

With back-to-school prep in full swing, most moms are trying to find the best ways to make the transition from summer easy! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite must haves for the kids as they head back to school!

Let's Get Social

…are you following us on social?

Not only will you find relevant resources, local businesses, & can’t-miss happenings, but hopefully we’ll make you smile with our funny MEMES and encouragement so that you know… you’re not alone.

Start Smart: Five Days, Five Ways to Get Ahead of the New School Year

The countdown is on! Back-to-school is on the horizon.

When prepping for a new school year, it is important for families to take some time to gradually ease back into a school year routine. To ensure a strong start to the academic school year, Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies, a national early childhood education franchise with three decades of experience, is sharing a five-day guide to help parents and kids plan ahead for a smooth transition into the new semester:

Day 5

Return your child to his or her regular nighttime routine, making sure he or she gets at least eight to ten hours of sleep. Less sleep is directly correlated to a smaller attention span, reduced focus and less self-control.

Day 4

Finding the right back-to-school gear can make a big difference in the level of excitement for returning to school. Parents don’t have to break the bank to find practical and fun items that will help ease the transition for any child.

Day 3

To dispel the fear of the unknown, take a “field trip” to school. Remind kids where the cafeteria is, where recess takes place and where he or she will be picked up and dropped off. This will make a child less intimidated and more excited to go back to school.

Day 2

Start talking about the fun that comes with their return to school. Acknowledge that the transition may be hard at first, but it will be fun to see old friends and meet new ones.

Day 1

Tomorrow is the first day of school! Make sure you prep lunch and snacks the night before. Not only will this save time in the morning, but it will also ensure healthy food is in the lunch box. A balanced diet makes a dramatic impact on kids’ brainpower and behavior.

“A mother’s love endures through all.” – Washington Irving

The Morning Routine

Destress Your Morning Routine

Let’s talk about the morning crush. It’s that time between wake up and leaving for school when someone ends up yelling, someone ends up crying and some forgets something essential (sometimes it’s all the same person).

But as soon as you see the back of their head and backpack in your rear view mirror, the guilt sets in. I didn’t figure out how to destress our before school morning routine until this school year.

5 Tips to Have Better Mornings

So, it IS possible to wake up at 4am-ish and be a (somewhat functional) working mom, but there are sacrifices you have to make. In my case, I had to sacrifice time with my family in the evenings to go to bed at 7 or 8pm. There is no alarm volume loud enough to wake me up if I haven’t slept well. Just ask my mom or husband!

And yes, I mentioned my mom because this has been going on my WHOLE life! Mornings just have never been my thing.

What can a life-long, professional-level night owl do to have a better morning routine? How can we swap a groggy, cranky, rushed or stressed out morning for a bright-eyed, streamlined, happy & positive one?

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Mornings Better

So, I got a little lenient on some things during quarantine. When the world started its journey of flipping upside down and we all collectively entered into the Twilight Zone, I started feeling overwhelmed like so many others.

To calm the overwhelm, I told myself that certain things were fine to relax: my weekends-only drink rule, my snacking habits, my makeup and hair standards, and…my morning routine.

Mom Friends

Join the Orlando Mom Collective Village.
This private Facebook group is moderated by admins. We encourage you to use this group to help you all connect for all things mom: recommendations on sitters, pediatricians, places to go for date night, advice, etc.

Is Your Pre-Schooler Ready for Kindergarten

We asked preschool and kindergarten teachers what parents can do to prepare our children for kindergarten. Here is what they told us.

  1. Let your child cut with scissors. Encourage her to cut pictures from old magazines and glue them to form a collage. Give her scissors when she plays with play-dough and teach her to cut the dough into strips.
  2. Offer your child various writing utensils – colored pencils, markers, crayons, pens, highlighters – to keep writing and drawing fun and interesting.
  3. Count out loud often. Count pretzels and crackers at snack time. Count toys as you clean the playroom. Count cars on the highway.
  4. After you count, compare groups – which has more? Which has fewer?
  5. Sort objects. Sort socks by color or size. Sort silverware as you unload the dishwasher. Sort toys by color as you clean up. Sort coins.
  6. Review shapes and colors as you look at books or items on the grocery store shelf. Play “I Spy” using shapes and colors as you wait for your meal at a restaurant or as you wait in the doctor’s office.
  7. Play “Simon Says” with two or three-step instructions. Simon says jump up and down and clap your hands! Or Simon says stomp your feet, clap your hands and shout Hooray!
  8. Play rhyming games.
  9. Practice letter sounds and begin to point out the sounds words start with.
  10. Notice letters everywhere – on signs, in books, on cereal boxes.
  11. As you read, run your fingers along under the words so your child can begin to understand that words go from left to right and top to bottom.
  12. Play games with alphabet refrigerator magnets. Practice naming each letter and the sound it makes.
  13. Teach your child to recognize his name and then to write his name. Let him practice often. Teach him to use all lower case letters, except for the first letter.
  14. Give your child plenty of opportunities to interact with other children – play groups, play dates, church, preschool – so he learns to take turns, treat others nicely, listen to others and share.
  15. Teach your child how to express his feelings in words. Practice feeling words.
  16. Have your child dress him or herself. Let him zip his own jacket and fasten his own jeans.
  17. Make sure your child can go to the bathroom completely independently – wiping, flushing and washing/drying hands.
  18. Practice tying shoes.
  19. Read, read, read! Every day.

Getting Involved at School

Tips for Volunteering

It can be tricky to navigate the social waters at school, to find a group of friends, and to find activities that are right for you. Mom, I’m talking about you here, not your child!

Volunteering at school can be a win-win for you, for your child and for the school. But, before adding your name to too many sign-up sheets, give some real thought to your likes and limitations.

An Ode to the PTA + Room Mom

Will all the Room Moms and PTA Moms please rise?

Now, please allow the rest of us a moment to complete a full round of slow claps and a curtsy. I am not exactly what I would call a hot mess mom (most of the time), but I didn’t have it together enough to have joined your ranks this past year. Blame it on the new baby or the fact that I have struggled to remember to attend the majority of my oldest’s school events since Pre-K, but I am in awe of you.

I'm A PTA Mom

When I was in elementary school I remember sitting through PTA meetings with my mom. I actually remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to be a mom and be on the PTA. It just seemed so COOL.

That was in the ’80’s and ’90’s and since then PTA Moms get a bad wrap.

I Tried and Failed to Be a PTA Mom

As the year progressed I was never contacted by the PTA. They never reached out to me to join a committee or participate in any of the tasks I volunteered for. Eventually I found a way to volunteer at the book fair a few times. Beyond that I just ended up volunteering directly with my son’s teacher. I helped weekly with the computer lab and art classes. I found a way to get involved, but it wasn’t with the PTA.

Orlando Mom Merch

If you are a proud ORLANDO MOM, then snag yourself some Orlando Mom merch in our shop!!
Orlando Mom Collective has got you covered with the ORL MOM AND Orlando MOM coffee mugs, t-shirts, water bottles, sweatshirts and tote bags too!
Head on over to the shop to snag yours today!

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Community Resources

If you’re new to Orlando, new to being a mom in Orlando, or just new to Orlando Mom Collective, our communities are a great way to meet moms and make new mom friends in the same stage of motherhood.

We Are Orlando Mom

Orlando Mom Collective is a locally-focused parenting resource for moms and families.

It’s been almost nine years since we began connecting moms in the Central Florida Area. We are the local resource for moms and parents in and around Central Florida. Orlando Mom is made up of more than 10 women driving community to encourage, empower, and inspire local moms.

Passionate about parenting and our community, Orlando Mom Collective strives to connect area moms to relevant resources, local businesses, can’t-miss happenings, and most of all — each other!

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