FILED IN: Education

5 Things You Need to Do to Prepare for Back to School

Flickr Commons/Photo by: Ian Burt
Flickr Commons/Photo by: Ian Burt

Even though it’s still blistering hot out, the first day of school is going to sneak up on you before you know it. Here’s the Imperfect Parent’s top 5 things to remember to get ready for back to school, and the end of summer vacation madness:

1. Register
If you haven’t done so already, it’s best to do this as early as possible. Late registration landed my son, who was just entering middle school last year, a few hassles when he had to track down a gym uniform because he wasn’t on the school’s official list. Many schools nowadays have come a long way since standing in lines at an un-air-conditioned, random school gymnasium. Many offer registration online. Look on your school districts website to find out when and how to register.

2. Physicals/Immunizations
Every state has their own requirements and schedule but most use the American Academy of Pediatric’s schedule which can be found here (Birth to 6-years-old) and here (7 – 18-years-old). Physicals are also required for kids entering milestone grades and most states are also requiring dental exams and even eye exams by a licensed optometrist. Most school or school district websites should provide you with this information. If this information is buried, you can also call your school district or school. Remember to book these appointments early. Most doctors are booked all summer for back to school preparation. Also, remember to bring the health forms required by your school to get filled out by the physician’s office and keep copies in a file at home.

3. School Supply List
Arguably the most significant marking of a new school year, the school supply list can be met with joy at the pending new year or melt-downs as one scrambles from one store to another to find specific items on a list. Younger children may find it boring while older children will want to join you to make sure you get the “cool” stuff. This yearly activity has become an outing for most families. Again, the key to having a stress free school supply procurement is to start as early as possible. We usually start with for all the staples and end the day with a meal at restaurant of our children’s choice or a movie. You can also give your children a copy of the supply list and make it like a treasure hunt. Reward them if they find a certain amount of items on their list on their own with a pack of baseball cards or similarly priced item.

4. Back to School Clothes
This is another activity that you definitely have to plan for. Over the years I’ve made a point to notice what my kids prefer to wear and what just sits in their drawers. Whether your kids are younger or older, allowing them to pick out as many of their clothes as possible establishes independence and personal identity. As early as June, department stores and mass retailers start sending out coupons. Keep a stash in an envelope in your drawer on the fridge. Many retailers also offer great bargains and big sales mid-late summer. Have your children try on everything, even if they don’t want to. If you’re kids start getting tired, consider purchasing items and keeping the receipt in a super safe place so they can try them on at home at a time when they’re more willing. The best advice when shopping for back to school clothes? Make a check list! If I am to leave you with any pearls of wisdom, let it be to make a list of necessary clothing items as specific as possible; 10 pairs of underwear, 10 pairs of socks, 7 pairs of jeans etc. This will keep the shopping organized and you won’t wind up buying things you don’t need. If you live in a cold weather climate, don’t forget winter jackets, snow pants and snow boots.

5. Backpack/Lunch Boxes
I put this under a category by itself because, as an experienced mom, I’ve come to appreciate that when it comes to these items you get what you pay for. This is also an item that is best left to the choice of your child, after all, they have to carry it around all school year and nowadays, the backpack has become as much of an accessory as it is a utility. After having to replace ripped backpacks mid-year, I decided to spend a little extra last year on a Swiss Army backpack for my middle-schooler (who is notoriously hard on everything) and was pleasantly surprised that it is still in excellent shape this year. It’s actually in good enough shape to either pass on to younger brother or use again this year — a bargain in long run.

The same can be said for lunch boxes. Although young ones tend to gravitate towards their favorite character lunch boxes, if you have older children, spring for the lunch boxes made by camping and outdoor supply companies. You may spend about $10 more, but in the long run, you’ll save by not having to replace midyear. Another added bonus, the outdoor camping companies have a lot of cool compartments and accessories since they’re primarily made for camping.