24 Tips & Free Printables To Get Back-To-School Ready
While some of us don’t yet know what the school year will look like, we do know kids will be “attending” school in September in some fashion. Even without specifics, most back-to-school rituals can take place and the time to start tackling them is NOW. I’ve put together 24 tips, a timeline and free printables that will get you organized for back-to-school, no matter how it happens.
Why Start Now?
No one wants to think about back-to-school in the middle of summer under normal circumstances, let alone during a pandemic with many unknowns. But where ever learning takes place, kids need supplies and preparation to succeed in what’s likely to be a not-so-normal school year.
Starting now means more time to prepare your children and hopefully more time to enjoy the last few weeks of summer. Or more realistically, fewer things to do once you finally find out what the back-to-school plan is and figure out how to make it work. 🤔
1 Month Before School Starts:
1) Schedule doctor and dentist visits if necessary.
2) Go through children’s clothes and make a list of what’s needed. While Covid-19 disrupted many things, it didn’t stop kids from growing or seasons from changing!
3) Go through school supplies and make a list of what needs to be re-stocked.
TIP: If you’re not sure what’s needed, some safe bets include pencils, pencil sharpener, pencil crayons, eraser, glue sticks, paper/notebooks, and a pencil case/box. This year, add hand sanitizer and extra masks for in-person learners and headphones and work station supplies for virtual learners.
TIP: Being prepared for both possibilities is wise. If the year starts virtually, kids will eventually return to school in-person. If the year starts in-person, it’s quite possible it will revert to virtual learning. Get the supplies now and you’ll be ready when changes occur. This applies to all the tips that follow.
4) Pull out backpacks, lunch boxes, lunch containers, thermoses and water bottles and make a list of what needs to be replaced.
TIP: If you can, make packing lunches easier with a lunch packing zone: one location where you keep lunch boxes, containers, utensils, water bottles and thermoses.
5) Streamline lunch making further by keeping all lunch items together in your cupboard/pantry.
TIP: Store lunch snacks where children can reach them and involve them in the process. If they choose what’s going in the lunch, they’re more likely to eat it!
6) Assess your label situation and order more if running low.
TIP: Label makers like Mabel’s Labels and Oliver’s Labels run fundraising programs where the school gets a percentage of each order. Check for the “Support a Fundraiser” button, usually at the top right of the screen, and choose your school.
7) Start planning some easy make-ahead freezer dinners that will make the first week back to school a little less hectic while everyone adjusts to new routines.
2-3 Weeks Before School Starts:
8) Purchase wardrobe, school and lunch supplies.
9) Make a “paper drop off” location, a spot for all school and extracurricular activity forms, notices, permission slips, newsletters, fundraising etc. for you to review or to upload for virtual learners.
TIP: A paper tray, magazine holder, or basket on the counter, all work great.
10) Create a homework/school caddy or school station. Having a defined place to work with all the needed supplies minimizes distractions and improves focus and productivity.
11) Make hair appointments for the week before school.
12) Start a conversation with your child(ren) about back-to-school this year. If attending in-person, discuss the new procedures (temperature checks, masks, smaller classes, social distancing etc.).
TIP: It’s also a good idea to let your child(ren) know that although the year is starting one way, changes may happen. And if they do, you’ll deal with them together.
TIP: For younger children especially, start demonstrating 6 feet of distance as often as you can, in many different situations.
1 Week Before School Starts:
13) Get hair cuts.
14) Stock up on snacks/non-perishables for lunches.
TIP: If your child(ren) will be doing virtual learning, avoid being asked for a snack 46 times a day with a snack basket. Fill it the evening before with ALL the snacks for the next day and let your child(ren) choose what they want when they want. When the snacks are gone, they’re gone. For fridge items, write the items on popsicle sticks that can be pulled out of the basket for that option.
15) If you do first-day-of-school pictures or records, decide where you’re going to do the picture and make sure you have all props, boards, signs and papers etc. Here is a link to some fun and easy photo ideas put together by unoriginalmom.com. And here are the first and last day sheets from yellowblissroad.com that I use.
16) Add labels to everything. Don’t forget the masks.
17) Ease kids back into school morning and evening routines. Even if the start of the year won’t be typical, kids thrive on routine.
TIP: If new circumstances mean new routines, talk to your child(ren) and get their input. When they’re involved in the conversation, they’ll feel more comfortable and be more likely to get on board.
A Few Days Before School Starts:
18) Have your child(ren) decide the first-day-of-school outfit (to avoid having to wash it at 9 p.m. the night before). Even if they aren’t attending in-person, there’s still the first-day-of-school picture!
19) If you’re using a camera, make sure it’s charged and has an SD card in it.
1 Day Before School Starts:
20) Put your camera and any props in the picture location.
21) Pack backpack(s) the night before. If your child(ren) are doing virtual learning, have their “school” space set up.
22) Pack lunch or snack basket the night before.
23) Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than you think you need to.
TIP: While following the above tips will have you organized for the first day, you don’t know how kids will react or how quickly they’ll move. Setting the alarm 15 minutes early provides a cushion to deal with any “variables” and still get out the door or to the virtual learning station on time without frantically rushing.
1st Day of School
24) Get child(ren) up, fed and dressed. Take the picture, hug and send them on their way!
No matter how learning takes place this year, you’ll be organized and ready with these 24 back-to-school tips. Click here for your free one-page checklist and shopping lists.
What are you doing differently this year to get back-to-school ready? Let me know in the comments below. If you found this post helpful, please share it!
I hope your back-to-school goes smoothly!