by Tori Hamby

With less than a month before schools kick back into session Aug. 27, families – especially those with rising kindergartners – should start checking items off their to-do lists now.

Parents should do the following:

• Update your contact information at each child’s school. Make sure your child’s school has your current telephone number and address on file. Also update the name and contact information of the person you designate school staff to call in an emergency in which you can’t be reached. Your child should know and recognize the person you choose to pick him or her up in any situation.

Look at the bell schedule for the upcoming year. All Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in the Lake Norman area will begin and end at the same times as last year. If your child has switched schools, however, make sure you know when and where to drop him or her off at school or the bus stop.

Register your kindergartner before Aug. 31. That’s when North Carolina law requires all 5-year-olds to be enrolled in a school.

Stay up-to-date on immunizations and physicals. All students entering kindergarten must show school personnel a physical exam report, completed within the past year, by the first day they enter school. A parent or guardian must also submit an up-to-date certificate of immunizations. Required shots are available to all children at the Mecklenburg County Health Department, 2845 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte. Call 704-336-6500 to make an appointment.

Review and buy items on your child’s school supply list. School supply lists are posted on each school’s website. Use North Carolina Tax Free Weekend, Aug. 3-5, to shop for school supplies you don’t already have at home.

Attend your child’s Back-to-School orientation event. These events give you the opportunity to meet your child’s teacher face-to-face, make transportation arrangements, share your child’s health needs with staff and join the Parent-Teacher Organization.

Walk through your child’s morning schedule. Younger kids, especially kindergartners going to school for the first time, need to feel comfortable with their new schedules. Make sure your child can find his or her classroom without help before the first day of school.

School orientation dates

• Alexander Middle: 4-6 p.m. Aug. 21.

• Bailey Middle: Aug. 22 – 3-4:30 p.m. for sixth-graders; 5-6:30 p.m. for returning students.

• Barnette Elementary: 5-7 p.m. Aug. 23 for first- to fifth-graders; 5:30-7 p.m. Aug. 30 for kindergartners. Aug. 22 – 3-4:30 p.m. for returning students; 5-6:30 p.m. for sixth-graders.

• Blythe Elementary: 4-6 p.m. Aug. 23. Parents can visit classrooms, buy agendas, join the Parent-Teacher Association, sign-up to volunteer, speak with the school nurse and sign up for before or after school care.

• Bradley Middle: Aug. 22 – 2-3:30 p.m. for seventh- and eighth-graders; 4-5:30 p.m. for sixth-graders.

• Cornelius Elementary: 4-6 p.m. Aug. 23.

• Corvian Community: Aug. 13-17 parent conferences by appointment; Aug. 19 open houses.

• Davidson Elementary: 5-6:30 p.m. Aug. 23 for first- to fifth-graders. School leaders will unveil the new school flag and mission statement. Parents of kindergartners are invited to meet teachers Aug. 27-29 during school days.

• Hopewell High: Aug. 21 6:15-6:45 p.m. for ninth-graders and new students; 6:45-7:45 p.m. for returning students. All students should bring printed class schedules. Information about parking, transportation, lunch and Exceptional Children’s services will be provided.

• Hough High: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 22 for new students and ninth-graders. The Parent-Teacher-Student Association will hold an open house 6:30-9 p.m. Sept. 18.

• Huntersville Elementary: 4-6 p.m. Aug. 23. Parents can meet-and-greet teachers, buy agendas and view classroom assignments.

• J.V. Washam Elementary: Aug. 23 – 4-5:30 p.m. for first-, third- and fifth-graders; 5-6:30 p.m. for kindergartners, second- and fourth-graders. The school asks families to carpool due to limited parking. Parents can buy spirit wear and agendas and sign up for the Parent-Teacher Organization in the gym.

• Lake Norman Charter: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 7 middle school schedule and supply distribution; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. high school schedule distribution; 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9 Parent-Teacher Organization meets; 6:30 p.m. Aug. 14 freshman orientation in the high school gym; 9-11 a.m. Aug. 15 fifth-grade orientation

• Long Creek Elementary: Aug. 23 – 5-6 p.m. new student orientation for first- through fifth-graders new to Long Creek Elementary; 5-7 p.m. for first- through fifth-graders returning to school; 6-7 p.m. Aug. 30 for kindergartners.

• McKinney Academy: Aug. 13 – 5:30 p.m. Back to School Night for new families; 5:45 p.m. for returning families.

• North Mecklenburg High: Aug. 23 – 9-11 a.m. for returning students; 6-7 p.m. for ninth-graders. Parents of International Baccalaureate students meet 7-8 p.m. in the media center.

• Pine Lake Preparatory: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 14 for kindergarten and third- grade curriculum night; 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 15 for first-, sixth- and fourth-grade curriculum night; 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 16 for seventh-, eighth-, second- and fifth-grade curriculum night.

• Torrence Creek Elementary: Aug. 23 - 11 a.m.-noon for kindergartners; 12:30-1:30 p.m. for first-graders; 2-3 p.m. for second-graders; 3:30-4:30 p.m. for third-graders; 5-6 p.m. for fourth- and fifth-graders.

Save big this weekend

During North Carolina Tax Free Weekend, Aug. 3-5, the following items are exempt from sales tax.

• Clothing, shoes and school supplies $100 or less

• School instructional materials $300 or less

• Sports and recreational equipment $50 or less

• Computers $3,500 or less

• Computer supplies $250 or less