Countdown to School: A Timeline for Getting Ready for the Big Day

What Belongs in a Backpack?

Nothing's handier than a well-packed knapsack-or more of a pain in the neck (literally!) for your child than an overstuffed one. Go with these guidelines.

Tuck it in

  • A small, laminated photo of your family
  • A pack of tissues
  • A change of clothes, including socks (your child can probably leave these in his cubby)
  • A travel-size antibacterial hand sanitizer
  • A sturdy plastic folder for notes sent home from school
  • A piece of material lightly sprayed with Mom or Dad's cologne
  • An inexpensive pair of UV sunglasses and a baseball cap
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen (if your child's classroom doesn't have it)

Chuck it out

  • Bottled water (that's why schools have water fountains!)
  • Stuffed animals and other toys (the other kids may get jealous)
  • Medications (give these directly to the school nurse)
  • Candy
  • Anything else you or your child can't afford, financially or emotionally, to lose

Sources: Claudia Weger, executive director, Ossining Children's Center, Ossining, New York; Carmella Van Vleet, author of Yikes! It's Due Tomorrow?: How to Handle School Snafus.

Originally published in the September 2010 issue of Parents magazine.

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