12 Tips to Get Ready for Back to School
1. Take inventory of what they already have. Chances are your kids have many of the items they need already. There is no need to replace everything. Gathering up existing items they can reuse this year leaves more space in the budget for those items they really need or want for the new school year. Check existing items like backpacks/indoor shoes for any damage and decide if you want to repair them or replace them.
2. Make a list of what they’ll need. Many stores and websites have lists of specific items needed for each grade. Keep in mind that the ones given by stores may suggest more items than actually needed as they want you to spend more of course. Personally, I keep the list given by the last year’s teacher as a guide. You could also ask other parents or contact the school directly closer to the end of summer as they are usually open the week prior to back to school.
3. Start shopping early. Stores usually start stocking back to school items early in the summer. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until the last minute when everything is already picked over or completely sold out. This also gives you the opportunity to look out for deals in the flyers as they come along. However, you may want to wait on some clothing items until closer to the time if your children are interested in seeing what is in trend for the new year. Since I start very early I frame it as “grade blank shopping” rather than “back to school” so as not to ruin their summer vibe as back to school is actually a ways off in their mind.
4. Clear out the old. Maybe you went overboard in previous years, purchased items that just never got used or your kids have items they have outgrown. Make some space by giving these items to friends or donate to other kids in your community. For example, if you are replacing that backpack that is no longer age appropriate there’s probably a younger child who would love it.
5. Make appointments. Haircut, dentist, doctor, eye check … just some of the things that are nice to get done while they have the time off. Be sure to call way ahead as they book up in the summer quickly. If you get these out of the way before back to school you can address any issues/changes (like a new glasses prescription) to ensure they will return at their best and ready for learning.
6. Discuss new rules/routines. Was getting to school on time an issue? Go over the morning routine and make a few tweaks as required. As for the evening routine, maybe there’s a new bedtime now that they are a year older. Prepare over the summer for safety practice, like, riding the school bus or walking with a buddy.
7. Create a study space in your home. Maybe this is in their bedroom or at the kitchen table. Prepare a study area with a clear space and supplies nearby. Consider where your child tended to do their homework the year prior. Did this work well? Does your child need a quiet space or are they happy to work in a more busy part of the home? You may want to have things like a dictionary, computer and a storage system for ongoing school work and books/duotangs that they would bring back and forth.
8. Starting thinking about lunch ideas. There are many great resources for lunch ideas for kids, think about your local library, checking online or talking to other parents. Stock up handy nut-free snacks, juice boxes and the like when they go on sale over the summer. Also, make sure your Tupperware is in good order and you have items like cutlery and napkins.
9. Create a backpack zone in your entryway. Have a space for them to hang up their bag, coat, shoes when they are coming and going from school. It’s also nice to have a place to keep other items they need to bring on certain days and to display a calendar with important dates/deadlines/gym days.
10. Get them excited about going back. Plan a special outfit for their first day. Make play dates with friends that will be in their class. Find out and discuss who their new teacher will be this year. Talk about some of the new exciting opportunities they will have at school, like, extra-curricular activities.
11. Plan for the unexpected. Sometimes the first day back can mean classroom confusion. If you are able (especially when you have younger children) it can be a good idea to have some extra time available that first day back in case you need to stick around while everyone figures out where they need to go. It’s also nice to save a little room in that back to school budget for when your child’s teacher sends home a note the first week with required items that you may not have already purchased.
12. Enjoy the time off. Before you know it they’ll be back to school, into a busy routine and the cold weather will be upon us. Be sure to soak up the sun and the unscheduled time with the kids as time flies and before we know they’ll be heading off to college.