School starts in Bismarck-Mandan on August 27, which means it's time for the flurry of preparatory activity and anxiety that inevitably comes with the beginning of each new grade. Whatever your situation -- lots of kids or an only child, special needs or financial constraints, first-day-of-kindergarten jitters or finally-a-senior nerves -- we've put together a simple guide to staying organized and making sure your kiddos are covered once class is back in session.

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    Make sure your child is registered.

    In general, this will apply only to kindergarten students and those who are transferring from one school or district to another. Any kids returning to the school they attended last year are already registered and expected to attend. Visit the Registration & Transfer Requests page on Bismarck Public Schools' (BPS) website, or the Parents page for Mandan Public School District (MPSD), to find your child's school and request an enrollment appointment.

    And don't forget to register you bus riders for spots on their schools' buses as well -- on the BPS Facilities & Transportation page, or on the Parents page for MPSD.

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    Have a transportation plan in place.

    Will you be dropping your child off in the morning and picking them up when the final bell rings? Will they need to take the bus (see links above)? Are you comfortable with them walking (if unsure about distance, make a practice run sometime before school starts)? What about a backup plan? What should your child do in the afternoon if her ride is late, or if he misses his bus? Discuss these things with your children and their school(s) -- teachers, office managers -- and make sure you're all on the same page. There's nothing scarier for a child than walking out of class after a long day, only to realize he has no idea how he's to get home.

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    Make meal plans.

    Start by finding out if your child qualifies for free or reduced meals. Also look into whether or not your student's school offers breakfast and take advantage if it does. Anything that keeps food in your kids' bellies while easing the strain on your wallet is more than worth it. This link will also show you lunch menus for the upcoming year. MPSD attendees can find this information on the district's Parents page.

    If your child will instead be packing a lunch, plan ahead as much as possible. Come up with some basics, and make sure you always have them around -- for example, if you always have peanut butter, jelly, bread, crackers and Kool-Aid on-hand, you'll never be without all you need to make sure your little one is eating.

    Also, find out how your child's teacher handles snack time. Should your child bring her own snack each day, or will he and his classmates take turns bringing one for the whole class?

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    Secure after-school care, if needed.

    In most two-parent households, both parents work outside the home; and in the case of a single-parent household, it's almost a guarantee that there's a full-time work schedule to balance with your child's school routine. If you work evenings or very early mornings, make certain you have a reliable caregiver -- and a backup, if you can swing it -- lined up to send your student off and/or greet them when they get home.

    Pro tip: look up your kids' BPS or MPSD academic calendars and put them on your own calendar ahead of time -- preferably an electronic one on which you can set custom event reminders via alert, text or email. That way, you'll never be surprised by a no-school day and have to call in sick or scramble for a sitter.

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    Ensure that your child is well-armed.

    ...with pencils, erasers, folders, backpacks, and any other supplies they'll need to keep up on assignments. Find your school supply lists on by selecting your school in the alphabetized list and clicking on the corresponding grade. Then cruise the web, or check out Target, Walmart or Amazon, to find the best deals. If you can, wait until the last week or so before school starts -- that's when the killer clearance sales will be in full-swing.

    Basics primary supplies should include: colored and #2 pencils, crayons, markers, glue sticks and school glue, folders, notebooks or notebook paper, safety scissors and a backpack. For secondary grades: #2 pencils, ballpoint pens, folders, binders, subject dividers, notebooks and notebook paper, ruler, calculator and some type of book bag.

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    ...and well-dressed.

    Particularly during the harsh winter months here in Bismarck-Mandan, children must be kept warm and comfortable to ensure the best and most effective educational experience. We know clothes can be expensive, so check out stores like Once Upon a Child, Plato's Closet, or even Goodwill, for some out-of-this-world offers and deals.

    If you're really on a tight budget, pare it down to whatever you don't already have of these basic essentials: a winter coat with a hood, hat, scarf, mittens or gloves, tennis shoes, snow boots and jeans. Remember, you can always buy a couple things here and a couple more there, as your wallet allows.