A Back-to-School Plan for Parents

All the things you need to do before school begins

Use this back-to-school checklist to make sure you're ready when the big day arrives. After all, there's a lot to accomplish before school begins! If you start early, you can easily tackle this list in just a few weeks, and the payoff will be a much easier back-to-school season for your entire family.

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Have a Fashion Show

Two girls (4-6) playing dressing up
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Before you go shopping for new clothes, have each child try on the clothes they haven’t worn since last year. As you find items that no longer fit, set them aside to bring to a consignment shop or donate them to charity. If you find that you do need to purchase a few items, pay attention to the back-to-school sales and use coupons to help you save money.

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Fill Out Any Necessary Medical Forms

Patient medical form
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If you need to have forms signed by your child’s pediatrician, send them to your doctor’s office as soon as possible. Also, if your child has a food allergy, contact your child’s teacher before the school year begins to discuss any necessary precautions. You can print a food allergy action plan from The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

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Purchase School Supplies

Close-Up Of School Supplies On Table
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You can get a list of the specific school supplies your child will need from the school secretary or teacher. Items you’ll need to pick up may include backpacks, binders, and planners/organizers, in addition to the regular assortment of pencils, crayons, glue, and scissors.

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Confirm Your Babysitting Arrangements

Nanny with brothers
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Double check that your babysitter knows what day school starts, and understands when you’ll need him or her to be available. In addition, take the time to confirm his or her pay rate and your planned payment schedule.

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Consider Purchasing Alarm Clocks for the Kids

Mixed Race boy rubbing eyes in bed
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If your kids are extremely reluctant to get up in the morning, consider using an alarm clock with gradually increasing sound, or use a timer to make their bedside lamp turn on just before you want them to wake up.

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Plan Your Lunches

Healthy lunchbox
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First, you'll need to decide whether you need to purchase new lunchboxes. If you do, make sure you look for one that says lead-free on the label. Some vinyl lunchboxes give off a lead residue, which you don't want near your kids' food! Also, begin to plan what you'll include in your kid's lunches, and stock up on extra lunchbox staples, like fruit cups and granola bars, when you see them on sale.

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Organize Your Closets

Girls playing dress up and applying makeup in mirror
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This can help to get everyone out the door a little faster in the morning. If you’re gotten behind in doing the laundry, or you have a lot of ironing to do, take some time to complete this task before school begins. Also, consider purchasing a wrinkle-release spray for the kids’ clothes, which may not really need to be ironed on a regular basis.

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Update Your Calendar

USA, New York State, New York City, glass over calendar
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Your calendar is a great tool for staying organized and managing the kids’ busy schedules. Take the time to add school-related items to your calendar, like half-days and holidays. Also, fill in your kids’ regular activities, like soccer practice, ballet, or karate. Get into the habit of looking at your calendar each evening to be sure you know what is coming up the next day.

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Create a System for Organizing and Storing Papers

Woman at Desk Using Pen
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On the first day of school, your kids will probably come home with 5-10 papers for you to sign. You’ll want to have space in your home where your kids can regularly leave the paperwork that requires your signature. You’ll also want to have one spot where you can keep information on hand that you’ll need frequently, like the school lunch menu and calendar.

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Gradually Move the Kids' Bedtimes Up

young boy fast asleep in bed
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You'll want to be sure your kids are getting plenty of sleep when school starts. If your kids have been staying up extra late this summer, you want to gradually move their bedtimes up by about fifteen minutes a night. This will make bedtimes easier on you when school begins, and it will help relieve the back-to-school jitters and insomnia.