Back-to-School Checklist: Our 3-Week Guide

Make the transition back to the classroom an easy one with our printable checklist.

Back to school checklist

Before you know it, the bells will be ringing and a new school year will be—unbelievably!—upon us. Avoid the last-minute scramble with this step-by-step guide to getting everything done. Plan to start three weeks prior to the first day, and tackle one task each day.


3 weeks before school starts:

• Inventory your child’s clothing and sell or give away any items that are too small. Make a list of what he needs before you start shopping for new clothes.
• If you're not already, familiarize yourself with the school’s Web site. Many teachers post a school-supply list, welcome note or other information.
• Make a list of the school supplies you'll need to purchase new or replenish, as well as any other necessary items, like backpacks or lunchboxes.
• Gather ads and circulars for back-to-school sales. Form a game plan for which stores you'll hit.
• Review your emergency plan and revise if necessary. Call your emergency contacts to confirm that they can still help if a situation arises (say, can they pick your kids up from school or the bus stop if you can't).


2 weeks before school starts:

• Have a child who's new to middle school? Have her practice with a combination lock. Also, if possible, go to the school and practice changing classes.
• Encourage your child to write down his locker combination, class schedule, room numbers and teachers’ names in a planner or agenda. (And double check it.)
• Shop for school supplies and clothes. Use our easy school-shopping guide.
• Confirm after-school child-care arrangements.
• Plan morning, afternoon and evening routines, and involve your kids, whenever possible, in this process. Begin enforcing bedtimes and practice waking up at the same time each day.


1 week before school starts:

• Shop for groceries for next week’s school lunches.
• Wash all your child’s new school clothes; make sure staples are laundered, too. 
• If you haven't already, visit the school with your child for a re-familiarizing walk.
• Show your child his bus stop and go over the plan for getting to and from.
• Ask if your child has any questions or concerns she might want to discuss. Let her know you're available anytime she wants to chat.


The night before the first day of school:

• Lay out clothes, shoes and backpacks for the next day.
• Plan what to make for breakfast.
• Have your camera (or phone) ready to snap some first-day pictures in the morning.
• Put your evening routine into action.
• Get plenty of sleep!