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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Back to School

Summer’s sun is still high in the sky, but down here on earth many families in Napa are getting ready to go back to school. The transition from the lazy, hazy days of vacation to the structure of early mornings and school days can be smoother with a bit of preparation and planning.

Back to school shopping is nearly inevitable. Between school supplies, clothing, backpacks, lunch boxes, and more, it seems as if there’s always something kids need at the beginning of the school year. First taking inventory of what you already have can save time and headaches. You don’t want the morning of the first day of school to be the time you realize little Junior has grown out of his closed-toe shoes (a requirement on many local campuses), or that the zipper on his backpack is broken.

Over the years we have found that most classrooms, or grade levels, have a specific list of supplies for their students. Waiting for the list can prevent you from buying unnecessary items, although pencils, paper, and a sturdy backpack or bag are usually safe bets.

If back-to-school clothes are on your list, we’ve found a way to get our kids excited about it while they flex their math muscles a little bit. We grab a burger and then head out to shop. Each kid has a budget we give them to work within. They move through the aisles and make their choices, making the task more fun for them. They get to pick their own clothes, within school dress codes and parental guidelines of course, and decide what they really want the most. Giving them a budget forces them to do some math. Each kid knows how much they spent at each store, and how much they have left to work with. Making an outing of it keeps it something to look forward to, rather than something to dread. If you have another parent and kid who wants to join in on the excursion, it can be even more fun. We make it an annual mother-daughter event with a similar duo, and this tradition makes them genuinely want to go out and do their back to school shopping.

Use the back to school clothes, as well as the clothes your kids already have at home, to put together a first day of school outfit. I recommend planning all the way down to socks and underwear, and complete this task no later than the night before school starts. Waiting to decide until the “morning of” could lead to the year’s first tardy. For smaller kids, putting together a week’s worth of outfits can streamline the getting ready process.

When it comes to school lunches and snacks, finding a system that works for you can make your mornings run more smoothly. Keep school lunch ingredients such as fruits, snacks, drinks and water bottles grouped together in single serving sizes which will make it easy for kids to help assemble their own lunch, throw in a sandwich or some leftovers from the night before, and you’re done.

So the kids are dressed, fed, and ready to tackle the first day, but what comes next? When the school day comes to an end, there are lots of options available for after school activities in Napa.

ACE, or After Class Enrichment, is available to students at Redwood, Harvest, Silverado and Calistoga junior high schools to offer assistance in the educational, social, and safety needs of local kids. Sessions are available both before and after school. They offer homework help, sports, enrichment activities and more. Additional information can be found at

Napa Boys and Girls Club offers after school programs for kids in elementary school on up, providing homework help and support, and a snack. There is also recreation in the form of sports, arts, crafts, science, and other fun projects for the kids. Their Napa Clubhouse fee is $50 per child annually for school days, with an additional $10 fee on non-school days during the school year. Financial assistance and scholarships are available.

To find out more contact Director of Program Services Julia Mariano at (707) 255-8866 or go to

For kids desiring to spend their after school time outside, Connolly Ranch offers after school programs from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as many Napa schools have short-, or half-sessions on those days. Participants get the ranch all to themselves, and get to interact with the animals, work in the garden, do art, and have homework and story time. For more information or details contact Joshua Seitchik at (707) 224-1894 or go to

The Sheriff’s Activity League offers a wide variety of sports and physical activities in their after school programs such as wrestling, boxing, judo, baseball, softball, soccer, and they even have a fitness center. If your kid doesn’t care for any of the sports or teams offered, they can still attend and work out in the fitness center. Plus, all programs are offered free of charge. If costs arise on teams for shoes, shirts, etc., financial assistance is available. To find out more contact Napa Deputy Jesse Ward at (707) 224-5005 or go to under “Department Links” you will find the Sheriff’s Activity League link, or try their Facebook page under Napa Sheriff’s Activity League - SAL.

Although the days are still long, the summer vacation is almost over for Napa students. Being prepared ahead of time can help all of you eek out and enjoy every last moment of time left of the summer of 2017, before it’s all about getting back to books and alarm clocks. School’s almost here, be ready!

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