Back-to-School Checklist

From buying supplies to catching up on those summer reading lists, here's what you need to do to prepare for the new school year.

YIKES! It’s almost time for the kids to head back to school (and yes, we’re doing a happy dance, too). But if you’re not quite ready for the bell to ring and class to begin, don’t worry. Here’s a crash course in everything you need. Rip out this list, grab a No. 2 pencil and start churning out the check marks.

Track down the summer reading list.

Dig up that email and make sure your child finished the assignments. Accidentally delete it? Look on your school’s website. Find cheap books quick on Amazon or try local discount booksellers.

Buy those supplies.

These days many retailers have school lists right next to the supplies in the store. If not, the supply list should be easy to find via your school’s website. Scoop up the killer $1 marker deals now so you’re set all year.

Lug out the lunch box.

Know where it is? Does your kid? If it’s been hiding in some corner of his closet all summer with a now-petrified PB&J inside, you might want to toss it and get a new one. Stock up on the plastic snack bags or reusable containers – ditto extra snacks like pretzels, banana chips and dried fruit.

Tour the school.

Schools often offer times for students to stroll the building before the first day. Be sure kids take time to practice that locker code, too.

Pick emergency contacts.

Whether it’s online or on paper, you’ll need to provide these to the school. Don’t forget to let your friend, relative or neighbor know you’ve listed them on your child’s emergency card.

Check on immunizations and update that physical.

Schools require the most up-to-date immunization info. Save yourself time and request a copy from his pediatrician. Make a copy to have at home – just in case.

While you’re at it, have your doc handle their physicals, too, if your child plans to participate in school sports. Many physicians’ offices have the forms on file; it just takes a phone call.

Update your calendar.

Check out the school’s schedule online and pop all days off and holidays into your schedule.

Bonus tip: Call your kid’s doc/dentist to set up regular checkups. It’s much easier now before all the good slots fill up.

Coordinate the carpool.

If your child has before- or after-school activities, it’s time to plan. Got several carpools? Create different groups in your text contacts and name them for each – choir, soccer (hopefully no detention).

Clean out closets.

Have kids go through all their clothes before the start of school. Donate, or save for younger siblings, anything that doesn’t fit.

Schedule an eye exam.

You want your kiddo to be able to see the board! If he’s wearing glasses or contacts, check with his eye doc to make sure his prescription still works. Get a hard-sided case for specs so they don’t get crushed in his backpack.

Practice your morning routine.

Walk the bus path or drive the route to school with your kiddos a few times before the first day. Designate a spot for your child’s backpack/shoes/jacket so she always knows where to find what she needs.

Pick out a backpack.

Last year’s might still be in good shape – but then again, she might be over it. Let kids know to use both straps vs. draping it over one shoulder, which is hard on the back.

Get back to bed.

Ease your child into a regular sleep schedule by waking him up and putting him to bed at the same time he would be for school in the weeks leading up to the first day.

Adjust his current time by 15 minutes every few days to keep the shift doable. Avoid screen time and caffeine before bed, too.

Ease anxiety.

Nerves? It’s normal. Tell your child other kids are probably feeling the same. Chat about all the good things about going back — like seeing her friends.

Create a homework station.

Set your kid up for good study habits from day one by designating a homework spot – maybe a corner in his room or your family room. Deck out a plastic container with all the supplies he needs, from pencils to paper, and stash it nearby.

Arrange after-school care.

Whether you’re at home, relying on a relative or doing latchkey, get that lined up well in advance. Remind kids where they’re going after school. More than once. Kids can forget – especially with all the excitement of the start of school.

Stash surprises.

Write fun, encouraging notes to tuck into your child’s school supplies for him to discover. Keep it simple. Post-it Notes work perfectly.

Make party plans!

Set up a late breakfast or early lunch with friends to share tears of joy (or sadness) on the first day. Encourage a pal to invite one of theirs to join the fun so you can meet new acquaintances — just like your child.

This post was originally published in 2017 and is updated regularly. 

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