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Back to School Checklist Essentials for a Great Start to the School Year

Wow! It may feel like all you did was blink and summer is on its way out. The back-to-school sales are ramping up, and it is time to get your kids ready to for school. You can look forward to another year of pictures, fall clothes, new teachers and best friends. This back to school checklist for both school and home helps you to get into gear and ensure that everyone has what they need and can go to school in style and on time!


If you are sending your oldest child to kindergarten, you may be confused as to the kinds of supplies you should buy. Your school should send you a shopping list to provide supplies needed by the particular school, or it may provide them for you. In either case, assume your child will need or use the following:

  • pencils
  • crayons
  • erasers
  • folders
  • construction paper
  • wide-ruled paper
  • glue sticks
  • safety scissors
  • tissues

It is up to you what kind of backpack you should get. However, you should make sure you purchase a backpack large enough to hold regular-size folders. Some children’s backpacks, especially those tailored for preschool or kindergarten, are not large enough.

Grade School

Children in grade school need much of what kindergarteners need, with a few additions. If your school does not require you to purchase a binder or accordion file, you may choose to get one to keep track of loose papers and pictures your child wants to keep. This is the age when your kids start to receive homework assignments that may not be due for days or even weeks. Add organizer trays to their desks, one for homework or projects that need to be done and one for homework that has been completed. This way, you will never be caught unaware about the project due tomorrow morning. Add a calendar with important dates noted so your child is more aware of future obligations.

Middle School

When the kids start middle school, you can start to loosen the reins a bit and let them take some control over their time management. Your back to school checklist should start with a day planner or weekly organizer that lets them write down their obligations for major projects or exams, family plans, sports or extracurricular activities. Arrange a locker organizer with hooks, small shelves or pockets so they can hang up a coat, put a calculator away and keep a few basic necessities (such as pocket change, tissues or lip balm) nearby in case they need them. If the locker does not have its own lock, purchase a combination lock and make sure you write down the number in more than one place, just in case.

High School

Kids headed off to high school are starting to prepare for college, when they will really have to go it alone. This is an essential time to give them the practice they need to manage their time, balance work obligations and school and learn to take care of themselves generally. Provide them with a bag of essentials that they can keep in the backpack or locker that is full of things you might keep in a car or purse, such as:

  • nail clippers and file
  • hair elastics
  • stain remover
  • lint roller
  • Personal hygiene products like dental floss, deodorant and/or feminine hygiene products
  • breath mints

When they get home, they can stay organized with a file box that is entirely their own. Divide everything up by class, with additional room for clubs, volunteer work or individual projects. This helps them to stay on top of the paperwork and maintain records of homework and exams that have already been graded.

Spare Supplies Teachers Need

You probably have at least a couple of friends who are teachers, who talk about the supplies they have to buy for their own classrooms each year. The trouble is that some supplies are always running short, and anything parents can do to help is always appreciated. Although most teachers are happy to accept whatever extras you can provide, there are certain things that run out quickly, including:

  • glue sticks
  • dry erase markers
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • Tissues
  • disinfecting wipes

You can stock up on these things now and give them on the first day or wait until the requests come home later in the year.

Back to School Home Organization Tips

Once the school year is in full swing and the kids are coming home every day with full backpacks and piles of papers, you need a quick way to keep all of this from taking over your house. The most effective method is to set up zones in your home for the various aspects of schooling.

  • School Stuff Zone: You know the entryway or mudroom you spent so much time cleaning? It is about to become a disaster of backpacks, coats and shoes. All it takes is for one person to slip on the floor where the pile of rain boots sit to make you regret the whole endeavor. Take a moment now, while the weather is still decent, to get this zone under control. Designate cubbies or hang sturdy hooks for each child to have enough space for their backpacks and coats when they walk in the door. Consider adding a bench with cubbies underneath to hold shoes or boots. This zone will make getting out the door that much easier in the morning as well.
  • Homework Zone: For the kids to really get into “the zone” about doing their homework, they should be doing homework in a zone set up for it. No one wants to start a project and realize that everything you need is in other parts of the house. Create a homework zone that includes common supplies. Use jars or divided plastic caddies to put pencils, pens, scissors, glue, erasers, staplers and paper inside. You might need to use smaller stations for more than one kid doing homework at the same time, so no one has to fight over access to the red crayon. Set this station in a prime location for productivity, away from the television.
  • School Lunch Zone: Making school lunches every morning is such a hassle, but the alternative may also fill you with worry. The good news is that packing a lunch from home does not have to take up all of your morning. Start by creating two stations, one in your fridge and one in your pantry. Be sure to put them at a level where the kids can reach them. Use drawer dividers to split up the dry snacks and fruit in your pantry. Square or rectangular plastic containers (like the ones you might use in your pantry to store flour or pasta) will likely fit into your fridge very well. Pre-portion fruit, veggies, cheese and other finger snacks into bags or small tubs, and put them together in this container in the fridge. Use another container for deli meats, cheese and spread. Your kids can pick out their own food for lunch, and you will spend that much less time hunting for the mayonnaise.

Take the Hassle Out of Back to School

Sending the kids back to school can wreak a certain kind of havoc you may have forgotten over the long summer. These home organization tips help you quell the clutter and streamline processes during the busy day.
The new school year always starts with a little trepidation. Your kids wonder, “Will I like my teachers?” “Will I get enough time with my friends?” You can solve some of their worries by making sure they have everything on their back to school checklist, from crayons and glue sticks to a healthy lunch. You can also put your home in smooth working order with new home organization to keep the clutter under control and the homework right where you can see it.

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