Back to School

The Ultimate Back-to-School Checklist: What To Do Now and What Can Wait

written by BRETT NICOLE HAYDEN
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson

We know—it feels like we’re finally ready to enjoy summer with plenty of travel and fun activities underway. The time to take a well-deserved deep breath for getting through another successful school year. But before we crack open that first summer beach read it hits us: Back-to-school is right around the corner. 

We know all too well how quickly the summer days go by—even if they are some of the longest of the year (make it make sense!). As much as we want to put off thinking about everything that back to school entails, our future selves might actually thank us if we get a head start. As busy parents, it’s important for us to make our everyday tasks as effortless as possible, especially this time of year. Nailing down a routine is crucial for curbing our stress levels during the busy days at the beginning of the school year. 

Many schools send out things like reading lists and the crucial school supplies list in mid-summer. We’re doing you one better because we know how much we deserve to feel ready for the year. Plus, if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that our kids not only have the things they need for back to school but that they feel safe and confident about getting back into the classroom.

That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate back-to-school preparation checklist for parents. Best part? We’ve broken it up into chunks of time in the summer to complete them. This way, hopefully, all parents feel less overwhelmed and are ready to have the best school year possible. Plus, a free downloadable checklist to save for added convenience! 

 

The Ultimate Back-to-School Preparation Checklist

 

 

1+ Month Before School Starts

These are the tasks that will either require more advanced notice, or that can be completed without outside input. 

 

Schedule Any Doctor’s Appointments

Many schools ask that children have physicals before getting back in the classroom. Whether this be for extracurricular activities, or just routine vaccines or eye exams, get this on the calendar as soon as you can. You won’t want to be scrambling too close to school deadlines. While you’re there, be sure to: 

  • Order a Second Set of Any Prescriptions to Keep at School: Getting a refill of any prescriptions your kiddos need to have on hand will give you both peace of mind. Contact your doctor or pharmacy a few weeks before school begins to make sure they’re ready to go for the first day of school.
  • Get Copies of Medical Forms Needed: Lots of schools will request things like vaccine records and their latest physical information. Get these files ready to have on hand when needed.  

 

Audit Previous Years’ Supplies

Before embarking on the school supply hunting trip, go through what you already have. Chances are your little ones still probably have scissors, a ruler, book covers, colored pencils, etc. that can be reused. 

 

Practice Any Necessary Potty Training

This wouldn’t be a well-rounded back-to-school preparation checklist if we didn’t include a few things parents might not have thought of. For parents of soon-to-be preschoolers and kindergarteners, now would be the time to start practicing things like wiping on their own so they’re ready when the time comes. 

 

 

2-4 Weeks Before School Starts

 

Make a List of Meal Ideas

There’s nothing harder to deal with than going into the first days of the school year not either not knowing what to pack for lunches, or to make for dinner. Instead of wrestling with the responses to ‘What do you want for dinner?’ start a list of meal ideas to refer back to. 

 

Organize Your Home

Even though the kids will be out of the house more during the school year, there are things to do around the house that will make things easier once school starts. 

  • Set up a homework/study spot: This will especially come in handy for our middle and high school students but can be beneficial for elementary school students getting into the homework habit as well. Maybe it’s time for them to get their first desk, or there’s a nook in the living room you can put some school supplies like notebook paper to get them ready to study. 
  • Start a filing system for yourself: Inevitably, kiddos will come home from school with lots of things. The fun stuff like artwork, pictures, and awards will come home with things like event flyers and informational handouts. Set up a filing system that makes storing and finding these items when you need them simple. 

 

Review the School Calendar

Just when we thought nothing could beat the business of our summer calendars, we’re handed the school calendar. There are a few things you can do to make all of the upcoming events feel less overwhelming:

  • Add all of the important school dates into your personal calendar: This way you know when you need to take any PTO for work, or when you’ll need to source and schedule additional childcare. When it comes to these things, the sooner the better! 
  • Sit down with your partner/co-parent: Have a conversation about weekly schedules, pick-up/drop-off needs, and extracurriculars. Having a plan set in place for these needs will make all the difference when the time comes. 

 

Go Shopping for School Supplies and Clothes

Since we can’t get out of it, may as well get it done. Plus, we know you’ll never hear the end of it if it’s put off too long and all the good supplies are gone. As soon as you get that school supplies list, make time to get out there and shop. Don’t forget things that won’t make it on the list—see our list of back-to-school essentials below—like water bottles, lunch boxes, a school backpack, new shoes, and any uniforms. Be sure to label everything, especially for younger kids prone to leaving things on the playground. 

 

 

1 Week Before School Starts

 

Practice the Morning Routine

Hear us out, it’s not a bad idea to practice your morning routine before the first week of school. Practice things like waking up early, putting on shoes, and leaving the house in a timely manner. It will make doing so in real-time so much easier if a routine is already established. 

 

Create a Morning Checklist

We love our checklists here at The Everymom—along with our back-to-school preparation checklist, we recommend crafting a morning checklist. There’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than frantically trying to leave the house knowing that you’ve forgotten to do something. Think about what exactly needs to happen to get everyone out of the door each morning and write these things down to refer back to. 

 

Schedule Them a Haircut

Use the first day of school as the perfect reason for kids to get a haircut. They’ll be looking fresh in time for the first day of school—and the cut might even last until school picture day. 

 

Review School Safety Protocols

Reviewing the school drop-off or bus policy will make sure everyone’s ready to get to and from school safely. It also doesn’t hurt to request the safety policies from your school and decide how much information to share with your kids. Reviewing them together can give them an opportunity to ask questions in a comfortable setting and add confidence when leaving the house. 

 

Attend a Teacher Meet and Greet

You know the first day of school is getting near when the class list frenzy begins. If your child’s school offers a teacher meet-and-greet visit, plan to attend to get them familiar with the people and places where they’ll be spending plenty of time during the upcoming year.

 

Plan the First-Day-of-School Outfit

Make sure their favorite fit is clean and ready to go. Consider laying it out together the night before so they feel extra ready—and excited—for the first day of school.

 

Download Our Printable Back-to-School Preparation Checklist 

 

 

Back-to-School Essentials Shopping List

To round out the ultimate back-to-school preparation checklist, we wanted to call out some of the back-to-school essentials that usually don’t have a spot on the school supplies list. 

 

Backpacks

A backpack is a must-have that likely won’t make it onto the school supplies list. Plus, of all the supplies, there’s nothing quite as exciting for a little one than getting a new backpack that perfectly fit their personality for that year (or at least a few weeks). Be sure to check out our list of the best backpacks for kids.

back to school preparation
Amazon | Simple Modern
Kids Backpack
Several designs available
Shop now
pottery barn kids backpack
Pottery Barn Kids
Mackenzie Stripe Backpack
2 sizes available
Personalization available
Shop now
Back To School Preparation Checklist backpack
STATE
Kids Travel Backpack
Several colors available
Personalization available
Shop now
pottery barn kids backpack
Pottery Barn Kids
Mackenzie Tie-Dye Backpack
2 sizes available
Personalization available
Shop now

 

Lunch Boxes

Even kiddos who eat school lunches can benefit from having a lunch box on hand. It will come in handy for special days like fields trips.

lunchbox
Hydro Flask
Kids Lunch Box
6 colors available
Shop now
lunchbox
Target | Fulton Bag Co.
Upright Lunch Bag
20 colors available
Shop now
lunchbox
Amazon | Bentgo
Kids Bento Style Lunch Box
Several colors available
Shop now
lunchbox
Crate & Barrel Kids
Insulated Kids Lunch Box
Personalization available
Shop now

 

Water Bottles

Ensure they’re always hydrated with a durable, convenient, and leak-proof water bottle. We know it sounds impossible, be we promise, quality water bottles for kids are out there! 

back to school preparation
Amazon | CamelBak
14oz Kids Water Bottle
Several colors available
Shop now
back to school preparation
Target | Thermos
12oz Water Bottle
13 colors available
Shop now
back to school preparation
Stanley
12oz Bear Cub Bottle
7 colors available
Shop now
back to school preparation
YETI
Rambler Junior 12oz Kids Water Bottle
8 colors available
Shop now

 

Back-to-School Clothes & Shoes

Start putting together your back-to-school clothes shopping list in advance so you’re ready to tackle all of the sales as they pop up, including new school shoes. 

back to school preparation
Ten Little
Everyday Original
14 colors available
Available in sizes 4-13
Shop now
allbirds kids shoes
allbirds
Smallbirds Wool Loungers
7 colors available
Available in sizes 11T-3Y
Machine washable!
Shop now
Back To School Preparation Checklist
Vessi
Kids Weekend Sneaker
8 colors available
Available in sizes C11-J4
100% waterproof!
Shop now
back to school preparation
crocs
Kids' Classic Clog
20 colors available
Available in sizes C11-J6
Don't forget new Jibbitz for a new school year!
Shop now

 

Home Organization Items

Remaining organized throughout the end of summer and the school year will make all the difference. Use these products to get your home ready for whatever the school year has in store. 

back to school preparation
Birch Lane
Kids' Desk
2 colors available
Shop now
keepsake organizer
Etsy | SR Label Shop
DIY Kids' School Keepsake Bin Kit
Bin and folders sold separately—we recommend this XL tote from The Container Store.
Shop now
the Everygirl day designer wall calendar
Target | The Everygirl x Day Designer
Academic Wall Calendar with Sticker Sheets
Shop now
acrylic wall calendar
Etsy | Circle and Square Decor
Personalized Large Acrylic Calendar
Shop now

 

Name Labels 

Keep their new back-to-school gear out of the lost and found with name labels for their coats, water bottles, and more. 

back to school labels
Mabel's Labels
Ultimate Back-to-School Combo
Shop now
Mabels labels
Mabel's Labels
Preschool Label Pack
Shop now

 

First Day of School Photo Props

While these aren’t “essential,” they are fun additions to the time-honored tradition of taking pictures on the first day of school

back to school pennant
Etsy | Bloom and Grow Co.
First Day of School Pennant Flag
Shop now
back to school sign
Etsy | LaserishCo
First Day of School Reusable Sign
Shop now
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