Back to School: A Parent's Checklist

By: Jolene Roehlkepartain
Getting ready for school can be a lot of fun as long as everything doesn’t happen at the last minute! Beat back to school stress, and spread out everything that needs to get done over these next few weeks of summer so that by the time school starts, you and your kids can relax and step confidently into the new school year. Read More >

One month before school starts…

  • Make sure your child is properly registered for school, particularly if he or she is going to a new school.
  • Ensure that your child is finishing (and finishing well) any summer homework that has been assigned.

See more tips for supporting school success >

  • Schedule doctor and dental appointments. Many kids need certain immunizations before school starts. Athletes in middle and high school need an athletic check up. Find out if your school requires certain medical forms for your child’s doctor to sign.
  • Get any school supply checklists from your child’s school. (Many schools post them on their school websites.)
  • Create a budget for back-to-school shopping.

Get more family-friendly money management tips here >

  • Confirm any before and after school care that your child needs during the school year so that you don’t have any surprises on the first day of school.
  • Get the dates on your calendar for any back-to-school activities offered by the school. (The meet-your-teacher date, student orientation, parent orientation, and any other activities.)

Three weeks before school starts…

  • Start shopping for school supplies. Make sure your child knows what the budget is.
  • Get a copy of the new school year calendar. (Most school districts release them around this time.) Read through the entire calendar and highlight any dates (school conferences, parent orientation, school holidays, late-start, and early-release days). If you keep a family calendar, transfer all these dates unto your calendar.
  • Visit your local library with your child. Check out books about going back to school. Some books to consider: Little School by Beth Norling (preschool), I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child (preschool to grade 2), Welcome to Kindergarten by Anne Rockwell, First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg (kindergarten to grade 3, starting a new school), High School Bound by Martin Spethman and Chuck Klein, and the Everything College Survival Book by Michael Malone.
  • Plan some play dates for your child before school starts. Often kids get disconnected from their school friends during the summer because they don’t see them every day. Help them reconnect by inviting old school friends over to play.

Click here to read our most FAQ’s about kids and friends.

  • Schedule a haircut for your child if you haven’t already done so.
  • Decide on a quick family getaway. Visit an amusement park, a state park, or a water park, and have fun as a family.

Two weeks before school starts…

  • Visit your child’s school; find your child’s classroom. Look for the cafeteria, the bathroom, the gym, the outdoor playground, and the front office. Anxiety goes down when kids get the chance to walk around a school before it starts. For those entering middle school or high school for the first time, have them walk through their schedule with you.
  • Review the basics. Do your young kids remember their ABCs? Do your incoming fourth graders remember the multiplication table? Review them.
  • Help kids clean up their rooms. Many become disasters over the summer. Now is the time to get them organized so that your child can easily find his or her clean clothes.

Click here to get simple tips for getting your kids to help out with household chores.

  • Store school supplies in an easy-to-locate place. Families often stock up on extra school supplies because of the sales and then forget where they stash them.
  • If you have a high school junior or senior, mark the dates for ACT and SAT exams on your calendar. Consider finding a test preparation class for your teenager.
  • If you have a high school sophomore or junior, research colleges and universities. (Seniors should have their final list by now.) Find out when college fairs and college nights will be held at your school or in your community.

Click here for more tips to help you guide your older teenager through the college transition.

One week before school starts…

  • Start changing your child’s sleep and eating schedules to match the school’s schedule. Most kids have gotten into a summer schedule where they sleep in late and eat breakfast and lunch at odd hours.
  • Go to any orientations and meet-your-teacher events so that your child knows what to expect from the new school year.
  • Fill out all school paperwork. Parents often get flooded with forms from the school, either before school starts or right after it does. Fill out these forms right away and get them turned in before they get lost in the shuffle of other paperwork.
  • Create a route for getting to school. Even if your child rides a bus, get a copy of the bus schedule and follow it with your car. That way your child can see where the bus goes and where it stops. (Some kids get very anxious about their bus routes, particularly if they have to change buses or the bus stops at multiple schools.)
  • Take your child grocery shopping. Together, find healthy foods for snacks and school lunches.

Click here for quick and healthy breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas.

  • Create a homework space. Find a place for your kids to do homework. If it’s a designated space for homework (such as a desk in their room), help them set it up with supplies. If it’s a shared space, create a folder, backpack, or box where they can keep track of their homework supplies.
  • Set up a homework time now. Get kids in the habit of reading books during the homework time so that when school starts, they’re ready to start doing homework again.
  • Get excited about school starting. When kids see that you value education, they’ll be more apt to value it as well.

Ready to get organized? Download this checklist now! >


1. Preparing Kids for School, ParentFurther,

2. School Success, ParentFurther,

3. Image via bestlibrarian on Flick’r.


You’re right, this check list can be fun once you know how to make it fun. Back to school time is most often a stressful time for parents and they have a lot of reasons for that. I remember my parents even thought about choosing online education for me just to be able to stand a chance for higher education.

What a great list for back to school preparation. Each year, I forget how expensive it is to get my kids ready for school. Not only do you have to buy the basic school supplies, you need to buy all of the back to school clothes and schools. I definitely make sure I watch for sales and set a budget before heading to a department store or a shoemall. Otherwise, it is too easy to buy way too much. I will be sure to file this list away as a back to school list for each year! Thanks for putting the time and effort into writing this!


Thanks for taking time to compile such a great list for families!


Jolene, what a GREAT resource you have provided!

If your child is going to attend a different school, the following short article might be helpful: “Helping Your Child Cope with School Transitions.”


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