I simply cannot believe school has started in some parts of our country. We have another 4 weeks to go and I’m savoring every moment. Every. Single. Moment. Still, I’m starting to get ready for school because I know how busy it is when you aren’t ready in advance. Here’s a back-to-school checklist to help you prepare your children and yourself for the big first day.
Get your school supplies now
If you haven’t already, print out your list and run to Target, Walmart, Staples or, even, Amazon, with your list. Get everything today and pack it into a shoebox. We do this for several reasons–the biggest is that we don’t always find everything we need at our first stop so it’s good to try to get it all ahead of time. As soon as we get home from shopping, we grab our Mabel’s Labels (you have them already, right? If not… order now), empty all the bags onto our kitchen tables and begin placing everything we’ll need from our lists into our labeled shoeboxes. After labeling and packing, I store the shoeboxes on a top shelf in a closet so that no one will sneak a much-needed pencil from a box, making us short one pencil on the first day.
A note about your school supply list: I was appalled this year when I shopped my first grader’s list. The supplies cost twice what my third grader’s did and I honestly cannot believe that he’ll go through nine tubes of glue. However. I also recognize that just last year I wrote an editorial on the importance of “sticking to the list.” You don’t want your child to be the one with the wrong supplies. Trust me. I’m a teacher. Stick to the list. Raise all the hell you want to about it, but stick to it for the sake of your child.
Do you need a new backpack?
In a word, probably. Unless you’re like me and your kids each have 4* in excellent condition, you’ll likely need a new pack. Today, grab your kids’ backpacks from last year and test all the zippers. Take a minute after you buy school supplies and make sure that all binders, folders and notebooks fit inside. It’s rare that she’ll have to bring them all home at one time, but it’s likely that she’ll be stuffing it in with a text book or two. And stick to my guidelines: your kids will need a different sized bag in preschool, Kindergarten, 2nd grade, 4th grade and 6th grade (beyond that, your child will likely demand, or not, a new bag depending on how style-conscious he is.)
When selecting a backpack, do not skimp. The inexpensive, trendy and, often, commercialized bag isn’t strong enough to withstand opening and closing, filling and filling again. A quality backpack will have reinforced stitching and strong, padded straps. Make sure that the cloth isn’t too thin. Backpacks don’t break the bank–but don’t buy cheap.
Need a backpack? Read the tips for buying a good backpack from the Mental Clutter Coach.
A word on wheels
A few years ago, wheeled packs were the rage. Before you buy, check with your school administration. Many schools have outlawed wheeled packs and your child will be asked to return with a backpack. Why? Wheeled packs are major tripping hazards and most teachers will share horror stories of children cutting each other off with their packs. They’re also very difficult for kids to navigate the hallways and bus aisle. Finally, the idea of wheeled packs was to combat back issues from children carrying too much on their backs, especially kids in our generation who carried on one shoulder. However, if you’re wheeling a heavy pack behind you with your right hand, you’re still stretching your back to the right side. Teach your kids to carry his backpack on both shoulders to balance the weight.
Lunch bags and lunch boxes
While at Lands End’s Style School last weekend, I was introduced to the MadBox, a bag designed for kids, by kids. I just love the story behind this: kids from a LEGO Club came to Lands End with their concept, a separator to keep cold things cold and hot things hot. Brilliant. My kids are so excited to try this bag this fall.
Does your child need a new bag? That depends on how often your child buys lunch. Our kids are only permitted to buy once per week (saving us money and health needs because, ahem, our school lunch is not just gross but absolutely unhealthy) so they use their lunch-bags often. After a year, my kids often complain that their bags are ratty and stinky. We have 2 bags per kid because there will be plenty of times that someone leaves a bag at school, or an applesauce explodes and the bag needs to be washed. Having an extra makes life so much easier.
Back to School clothing
I’m sure this will change when my daughter is older, but, for now, I don’t do a lot of back to school shopping for my kids. I’m more of a “get it when I need it” type. Plus, we aren’t fans of trying on clothing in dressing rooms. So, the kids are happy if I just bring clothes home assuming they’ll fit, place them in their drawers and let it go. Yes. I get their feet checked for shoes before school starts and make certain that they have shoes in great condition and fit–that’s a shopping time when I want to have my kids with me.
It will depend on your school’s expectations whether your child will need a tablet, laptop or personal computer of her own this fall. I believe our kids start receiving homework on their computers, officially, in fourth grade, but my older son came home with computer-based homework in 2nd grade. I don’t advise getting a new computer for your child just because school is starting–especially if you’ll be needing a new one in the next few months. By all means, pass on your used computer and get a new one for you! Also remember to check with your local computer shop. Ours will check out our computers for free before doing any work and will analyze whether it’s fit for your child at school this year. This is a great idea if you’re passing your computer on to your kiddos.
This post was inspired by Lands End and Mom Trends’ Style School. No, I haven’t purchased 4 bags per child, but we have received lots and lots of Lands End bags over the years of blogging. And they’re all in excellent condition. Still. I happily added a pink one to my collection this weekend.
© 2012, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.