When preparing for the new school year, a back to school checklist can be extremely helpful for making sure the important things are done before the first day of school.
It’s that time of year when we bid farewell to the laziness of summer and get ready for the first week of school.
4 Tips for Starting a Successful School Year
1) Be positive.
Embrace the start of school with a positive attitude.
Your children are likely looking at you to set the tone for the new school year. So, take a deep breath, grab a notepad, and create a plan.
2) Review last year.
As you are planning for the upcoming school year, get a head start by taking some time to the previous school year.
Consider what went well and where you would like improvements.
3) Make a to do list.
The next step is brainstorming a list of things you need to get done prior to the day school starts.
These are items you can include in the blank spaces on the Back to School Preparation Checklist PDF (available in the Back to School Printable Bundle.)
4) Set a deadline.
Finally, take your master list of items you want to accomplish in the last few weeks of summer and divide them into four weeks.
Don’t wait for the welcome letter to begin crossing items off your list.
The Back to School Checklist
Because I want to start with first weeks of school on the right foot, I complied my own list of action items and divided them into the four weeks prior to the start of the new year.
While your school preparation list might look a little different if you have a first time student, I have tried to include everything you would need for an easy start of school whether you have younger students starting kindergarten, high school students, or adult college students in the following checklist.
Four Weeks Before School Starts
Check the school’s website for the updated dress code. Make note of any changes.
Clean out your closets and perform an inventory of the school outfits that will still work. Gather items that need to be donated to the school uniform closet.
Begin making a master school shopping list of school outfits/uniforms and new supplies needed.
Take a good look at your child’s shoes. Do they still fit? Are they cleanable? Should you buy a new pair? Write it down.
Wash all backpacks and lunch bags. Test all of the seams to see if a new backpack or lunch box is needed for the next year.
Visit the doctor for a physical, especially if your child is participating in extracurricular activities such as school sports or marching band. Ask your doctor for advice regarding the best practices for a healthy school year.
If your family chooses to vaccinate, check your child’s vaccination status. (Be aware that some four-year institutions are requiring covid-19 vaccines.) If your family does not vaccinate, locate your exemption paperwork and check to see if it is valid.
Also, peek in to your child’s room to make sure progress is being made on their summer reading.
Three Weeks Before School Starts
If your family does not already have a family calendar or calendar app, now is a great time to find the program that will work for you. (Our family uses the Cozi Family Organizer App because it is available for Apple and Android users.)
Input all important dates, including school holidays, into the family calendar. I print out a copy of the school calendar from the school’s website and program the entire school year into our calendar app at the same time.
Verify that all registration paperwork has been submitted. We have to re-register every school year. It never fails that some parents show up to meet the teacher without having completed the registration process. So make sure everything that needs to be submitted is sent and all requirements are met.
If your child need before/after school care, make a phone call to ensure all of your arrangements are finalized.
Check the teacher website for a list of necessary or recommended school supplies. Add those to your master shopping list.
Go shopping for new shoes, clothes, and school supplies.
Teach younger children how to tie their own shoes.
Remind your children who drive of basic car maintenance and rules (like no one but family in the car, etc.) Teach drivers how to check the oil and change a flat tire. Role play situations where your children might be involved in an accident or be pulled over by police officers.
Two Weeks Before School Starts
Depending on your child’s school, attend registration, pick-up class schedules, and/or meet your child’s teacher.
Clean out your pantry and refrigerator before stocking up on nonperishable lunch and snack groceries.
Review basic hygiene with your children. This is an important step for young learners but even good to review with preteens and teens. Everyone needs to remember how to properly brush their teeth, bathe, wash their hands, etc.) You can even help younger children prepare for restroom breaks by having specific times when you child can use the bathroom.
Label all school supplies (especially the pencil case and water bottle) and clothing items. For items like electronics and coats, consider including your contact information or just your phone number. You can pick up printed, personalized labels at Amazon.
Create a 2-week rotating meal plan for lunch boxes. If you children grow tired of this plan, you can always reset it during the Christmas break. Having a lunch rotation is a great way to make school mornings less stressful.
Likewise, create a 1-week breakfast menu plan. Using the breakfast and lunch menu plans, write or type a reusable grocery list (you can set this up in Cozi Family Organizer) for breakfasts, snacks, and lunches.
Update any chore charts that will change during the first week of school. (Be sure to print and use one of the many chore chart options included in the Back to School Printable Bundle.)
One Week Before School Starts
Get haircuts, if needed. These may need to be scheduled in advance if you do not use a salon that accepts walk-ins.
Set up a lunch box loading zone. I have a designated space in my pantry for items that go into lunch boxes so these groceries do not get confused with other snacks. We also keep food storage containers and zippered baggies available on the same shelf. The lunch boxes hang inside the pantry. There is also a reserved drawer in my refrigerator just for lunch box items that must be refrigerated.
If you have younger children, teach them to pack their own lunch boxes. (Check out the printable poster in the Back to School Printable Bundle for a catchy poem.)
Create a drop area for backpacks and shoes. We use a hall tree with a shoe bench. I positioned it close to a wall outlet so the children can plug in their school devices for charging overnight.
You might also consider creating a designated space for homework or study time. This would also be a great space to dedicate to distance learning if you have an older student.
Resume your regular sleep schedule. Start going to bed at a routine time and waking at the same time on a daily basis. You want to begin syncing your body clock to the school day.
Also go back to the morning routine you use during the school year or implement a new habit.
Prepare any make-ahead lunch items. Bag snacks or prepare recipes you can freeze and thaw or reheat.
Shop for any last minute school supplies. Remember to pick up enough paper, pens, and pencil for homework time. If you are feeling generous, you can even pick up a book or two to donate to the classroom library.
Make a meal plan for the first week of school. Since starting school will come unexpected surprises and appointments, create a 5 to 7 day plan for dinners. To stress less, use your slow cooker or electric pressure cooker as often as possible.
The Day Before School Starts
Call a family meeting. Review the plan for mornings and afternoons. Ask lots of questions like, “What time does the school bell ring? What’s your teacher’s name? Where do the school buses load?”
Review any family safety rules you have for kids who will be home alone, driving, etc.
Do a practice run of car line or the bus stop if it is a new routine this year.
Load backpacks with necessary school supplies. Then, place the backpacks and shoes in the drop area.
Fill up the car/s with gasoline and check fluid levels.
Set your alarm clocks and reminders.
The First Week of School Starts
Once the first week of school has passed, the hard work is over.
Hopefully, your children are learning time management skills and choosing school clubs.
Make sure you have a designated spot for your children to place the weekly newsletter and get in the habit of updating the family calendar as needed.
Watch for news about parent-teacher conferences so you can get first pick of the available times. Check the school’s website and Facebook page or group often. (Click to follow the page to get notifications.)
And, you’re ready for a fantastic school year!
What is on your School Preparation List?
Did I forget something? Drop a comment and help other parents be prepared for the first day of school by sharing what is on your to do list.
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