25 Back-To-School Tips & Free Printables
Whether you child(ren) will be doing in-person or virtual learning when the summer break ends, back-to-school rituals can take place and the time to start tackling them is NOW. I’ve put together 25 tips, a timeline and free printables that will have you coasting into the new school year relaxed, organized and ready!
Why Start Now?
No one wants to think about back-to-school in the middle of summer. But, checking a few tasks off your back-to-school to-do list every week between now and September means you’ll get it all done WITHOUT any last minute rushing.
Imagine having time to actually enjoy the last few weeks of summer!
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.
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. Don’t forget to add hand sanitizer and extra masks for in-person learners and headphones and work station supplies for virtual learners.
TIP: As last year demonstrated, circumstances can change. No matter how learners begin the year, being prepared for both possibilities is wise.
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) Stop art and school work you keep from becoming clutter on your fridge, counters or tables with a storage plan BEFORE they enter your home.
Two of my favourite ways to store the items your keeping are in a file box with tabs for each year and in a portfolio book for each year that you keep in a memory box. Both options provide a home, keep the papers organized AND provide limits on how much you can keep.
11) Create a homework/school caddy or school station. Having a defined place to work that has all the needed supplies minimizes distractions and improves focus and productivity.
12) Make hair appointments for the week before school.
13) Start a conversation with your child(ren) about back-to-school. If attending in-person, discuss the health and safety procedures that are still in place (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, remind them and demonstrate 6 feet of distance.
1 Week Before School Starts:
14) Get hair cuts.
15) 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.
16) 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.
17) Add labels to everything. Don’t forget the masks.
18) Ease kids back into school morning and evening routines.
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:
19) 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!
20) If you’re using a camera, make sure it’s charged and has an SD card in it.
1 Day Before School Starts:
21) Put your camera and any props in the picture location.
22) Pack backpack(s) the night before. If your child(ren) are doing virtual learning, have their “school” space set up.
23) Pack lunch or snack basket the night before.
24) 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 rushing.
1st Day of School
25) 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 25 back-to-school tips. Click here for your free one-page checklist and shopping lists.
Did you look forward to back-to-school as a kid? Let me know in the comments below. If you found this post helpful, please share it!
I hope your back-to-school goes smoothly!