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Inside: Help your kids have a great school year and keep everything organized with this simple and effective back to school checklist for moms!
I’m sitting on my desk, and right in front of me, on the wall, our countdown to kindergarten garland reminds me how close we are to an important milestone in my child’s life.
I was expecting the start of school to come with many emotions for both our son and us, but I never imagined it would also bring a long to-do list for me to tackle.
For our family, the first day of school will happen just a few weeks before welcoming a new baby into our family, so I need to make sure that I get everything organized ahead of time.
I have no idea how our life will look after the baby is born, so I try my best to simplify our lives and get some effective systems in place to help us navigate this school year easier.
Update 2020: This article was written one year ago, when our son started kindergarten. Now he is preparing to start first grade, so I updated the tips with everything we learned in the meantime to make them even more helpful for you!
12 things we included on our back to school checklist
After seeing my planner getting full of notes about the things I want to do before school starts, I decided that the best way to keep track of everything is to create a back to school checklist.
This list helps me get organized and made this preparation period less stressful, so I hope that sharing it with you will help you as well!
1. Create new routines for the whole family
Routines have always helped us make the busy periods of our lives less chaotic and stressful, so it’s very important to me to establish some new routines for school days.
We use checklists to help our son follow the routines, and this worked great for us.
After school starts, we will have 3 daily routines: the morning routine, the after-school routine, and the bedtime routine. We already implemented the morning and bedtime routines, so we just need to focus on making the after-school routine work as well!
⭐ If you like the idea of implementing daily routines for your kids, you can download our printable school morning routine checklist from here.
2. Create a family command center
I loved this idea ever since I first discovered it on Pinterest!
A family command center can help you organize all the forms and important papers from school, display the family calendar and class schedule, and keep track of the routine checklists.
If you are looking for some great inspiration for creating a command center for your family, here is a list of ideas created by MyLifeAndKids.com – 10 back to school command centers.
3. Create a lunch station in the kitchen and a homework station in the child’s room
One of the things that stressed me out during my son’s Pre-K year was preparing his lunch box! To make things easier this school year, I decided to get more organized by implementing a lunch station in our kitchen.
The lunch station will store both the supplies I need to prepare his lunch box (containers, bottles, sandwich bags, etc) and some of my son’s favorite snacks. Also, in the fridge, one of the shelves will be dedicated to storing food for his lunch boxes.
Also, it’s very helpful to create a weekly lunch box plan in addition to the family meal plan. Knowing in advance what every lunch box will include will make shopping easier and the daily preparations less stressful.
⭐ Another great idea to help your kids get organized is to create a homework station in their room. You can either create a simple homework caddy to store all school supplies or create a bigger homework station to include more items your child needs for homework.
We decided to purchase a cute rolling cart for our son to use as a homework station. I liked the idea of having a mobile homework station because sometimes he likes to stay in the living room next to me, and the rolling cart will make moving all the supplies easy and mess-free.
4. Shop for clothes and shoes
To make shopping easier and more budget-friendly, start with an inventory of the clothes and shoes your kids already have. Sort through old clothes and decide which ones are still good for the new school year. After this decluttering session, you will have a clear view of what you need to buy.
Our list includes essentials (like underwear and socks), pants, t-shirts, a few nice shirts, and a pair of shoes.
5. Purchase school supplies
From all the tasks on my back to school checklist, this is one that I really look forward to! I have even created a back to school scavenger hunt to make school supply shopping more fun for my son, and I’m pretty sure he will be excited about it!
Below you can see what we included on our school supply shopping list.
6. Read books to prepare your child for the start of school
Many of the back to school checklists I saw online only focus on things related to planning and organization. In my opinion, an important thing to focus on before the first day of school is helping kids feel emotionally ready for this milestone.
One of the easiest ways to help them get ready for school is reading books about school, and using this opportunity to address any questions, worries, or concerns they might have.
⭐ Here are some of our favorite books that are perfect for young kids who prepare for a new school year:
7. Prepare for the first day of school and make it special for your kids
Another way to make kids feel better about the first day of school and show them your support is to make that day very special for them.
⭐ Here are some easy ways to do this:
- prepare a special gift to give them on the first day of school (we ordered a set of back to school bracelets to offer our son one day before school starts)
- prepare a first day of school interview for your child (you can download a template from here)
- choose a nice first day of school tradition to start with your kids (here are 7 lovely first day of school traditions to choose from).
5 other things we included on our back to school checklist
8. Sign up for fall sports (and after-school clubs) – If you want to enroll your child in sports activities or after-school clubs, check out their schedules and requirements, so you don’t miss the enrollment period. Also, if necessary, add sports equipment to your shopping list.
(Alternative option during the pandemic: If it’s not safe to enroll your kids in after-school activities because of the pandemic, you can find great live online classes and camps on Outschool. Here is our experience with their platform, plus a list of our favorite online classes.)
9. Create a system for storing school memories – There will be a lot of papers, drawings, projects, and other keepsakes that you will want to keep during the school year. To avoid the clutter, create a system to help you stay organized. We have a box where we put all the papers that come from school. From time to time, I go through all of them and save the ones I want to keep in a special box.
10. Create an after-school snack station – My son is always hungry when he comes home, so I need to have a healthy snack at hand. So I decided to create an after-school snack station where I place a few snacks that I know he likes. Every day after school, he can pick the snack on his own right after coming home.
11. Buy labels for school – Many things will need to be labeled with your child’s name at the start of school. Here are some of our most durable labels: clothing labels, name tag labels, and self-laminating labels.
12. Attend (online) school events to meet the teacher and the kids – Many schools organize special events to help the kids get ready for school. They are very helpful for reducing anxiety and giving kids more confidence before the first day of school.
⭐ If you want to download a printable version of this checklist, you can get it here.
I hope that this list will make the back to school tasks easier to handle for you. If there is anything important I forgot to mention on my list, please let me know!
I wish you and your kids a great school year!
photos from depositphotos.com