Checklist: Starting School

Our back-to-school to-do list covers everything you need to get the kids (and yourself) ready to start the year off right.

  • Print
  • De-clutter closets. Before you shop, figure out what your child's outgrown to find out what you really need.
  • Shop smartly. Pick up just a few basics and one new outfit for the first day. Stock up on fall duds later when they're on sale.
  • Pick up new lunchbox, cool pens, and notebooks. Get the rest when you know what you really need.
  • Show your child how to pack her backpack (heaviest items in the middle), wear it on two shoulders, and avoid stuffing it full.
  • Get back on schedule. Prevent a first-day scramble by slowly adjusting from the sleep-in days of summer to earlier mornings.
  • Get your kid's immunization records and gather important numbers to make beginning-of-the-year paperwork a breeze.
  • Know school policies. Some schools have rules on what kids can and can't bring--find out what's on your school's list now.
  • Set up a carpool. With gas prices on the rise, organizing a carpool to school can save you $$$.
  • Set up after-school care. Remember to let the teacher know whom to expect at pickup time.
  • Plan out logistics like school pick ups with your spouse now. This way, nobody feels overwhelmed with back-to-school craziness.
  • Get the calendar organized and post it in a central place--it can help everyone know who is supposed to be where and when.
  • Figure out your TV m.o. No TV until homework's done? Decide your strategy now and stick to it once school starts.
  • Set up a workspace. Designate a quiet, calm area where your kid will do her homework.
  • Prevent sickness by reminding your child to sneeze into her elbow, resist touching her nose or eyes, and wash hands often.
  • Review traffic safety. Go over traffic signs, bus behavior, bike safety and the proper way to cross the street.
  • Create a night-before ritual. Check tomorrow's weather, pick out clothes, pack lunch, and put things in the same place each time.
  • Stock your shelves with healthy after-school snacks like carrot sticks, low-fat cheese, and yogurt to prevent junk-food binges.
  • Celebrate! Take a special first-day photo, or do something fun after school to get your kid psyched for the year ahead.
  • STARTING PRESCHOOL: Figure out the potty situation. Some schools require kids to be toilet-trained before they start.
  • Get kids mentally ready. Read books about school, and rename activities to sound like school--have "snacktime" and an "art corner."
  • Visit the school to calm fears. Tour the classroom, the bathroom, the lunchroom, and of course, the playground.
  • Meet the teacher. Ask her any last-minute questions and also alert her to any special needs your child may have.
  • Brainstorm creative ways for your child to deal if Lovey has to stay home. For example, take a photo of it to keep in her cubby.
  • Label everything. Unfortunately, kids this age easily lose things. Make it easy for teachers to tell whose stuff is whose.
  • Decide on a goodbye ritual. This can be a hug or a secret shake that will help your child know it's time to say bye-bye for now.
  • Do a practice run. Time yourself to see exactly how long it takes you to get out the door in the morning and to school.
  • Remind him of his manners. Remind him extra often to say "please" and "thank you," and practice sharing through role play.

Other Checklists