The Ultimate Back-to-School Checklist

Getting your kids ready to go back to school isn’t just about buying new clothes and school supplies. (Although that’s a big part of it!) Here are some practical tips to brush up on in the months, weeks and days leading into the first day of school.


Get Pumped About School

After a summer of fun and relaxation, it might be difficult for some kids to make the mental transition back to the school grind. In the weeks leading up to the first day, start talking about the fun activities and opportunities your child will have being in a new grade with a new teacher in a new classroom.

Prioritize Health and Wellness

Ensure your child is in good physical and mental health by scheduling doctor and dental appointments well before school starts. If your child needs a sports physical in order to participate in sports during the school year, get that done over the summer, too.

Brush Up on Learning

Provide learning opportunities by encouraging reading, problem-solving and building new skills over the summer.

Aim for Adequate Shut-Eye

A couple of weeks before school starts, re-establish a school-year bedtime routine, and make sure your child goes to bed at a time that will give them the recommended amount of sleep. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that kids ages 3 to 5 years get 10 to 13 hours of sleep, kids ages 6 to 12 years get 9 to 12 hours of sleep, and kids ages 13 to 18 years get 8 to 10 hours of sleep.

Go Shopping

If your school has a supply shopping list, use it to go shopping with your child, either in-person at a store or online. Letting your child pick out their own supplies (within reason) sometimes adds to the excitement of going back to school.

Return to a Routine

Knowing what to expect — and what is expected from them — on a daily basis will help most kids get back into the school routine faster. For visual learners, it might help to have a family calendar posted in a place where everyone can see it, with important dates and schedules listed.

Practice School Behaviors

This is especially important for young students — and your child’s teacher will appreciate it, too! Go over basic school behaviors, such as raising your hand to get your teacher’s attention, taking turns, following the teacher’s instructions, waiting quietly in line, being polite to classmates, working quietly and independently, and other behaviors that your child might need to know in the classroom.

Set Yourself Up for Positivity

Children are good at picking up on our moods. If you are feeling anxious or worried about your child going back to school, it can make your child feel anxious and worried, too. As much as you can, model optimism and confidence about the new school year.

Celebrate the End of Summer

The night before school starts, have a little celebration to say so-long to summer. This can look like a special day-before-school-starts dinner, or ice cream or a fun treat for dessert, or one last pool party or run through the sprinklers.

Reach Out to Teachers

After the school year has begun, contact your child’s teachers, and let them know you want to be involved in helping your student learn and grow. Teachers appreciate an active caregiver who is invested in making the school year the best it can be!

Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe is the editor of Indy's Child and Southwest Ohio Parent magazines. She has a BA in Journalism from California State University Northridge, and has been involved in the print and digital publishing world for most of her life. Born and raised in Southern California, Nicole traded the city and sun for corn and creeks, and now lives in central Indiana with her husband, two sons and Collie. Her latest book for children, “All About Me! Art Journal” was published in 2022 by Walter Foster Jr. In her spare time, she likes traveling with her family, enjoying good food and drink, volunteering at her children’s schools and around her community, and practicing yoga.

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