I know it’s early compared to a lot of schools, but public schools in Los Angeles start the new school year tomorrow! I actually can’t believe it – it feels like the summer just flew by. But here I am, getting ready for yet another school year, and I thought I’d share my favorite tips.
My best over-arching Back to School tip should come as no surprise: Plan and prep as much as possible ahead of time. This includes:
- Label everything – Pretty much everything your child takes to school should have their name on it, including lunch boxes, backpacks, jackets, etc.
- Pack those backpacks – Put the writing utensils, notebooks, folders, and other first-day-of-school supplies in your child’s backpack (with your child so he or she knows what’s in there).
- Prep for lunch – If your child will be buying lunch at school, make sure there’s money in the account or that it’s paid for. If you’re making a lunch, pack as much as you can the night before and make sure what you need for the morning is available and accessible.
- Prep any necessary paperwork – My kids come home with packets for me to fill out on the first day of school (I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I get the homework the first day). But some schools send paperwork home ahead of time, which you should definitely complete and have ready on the first day. And for my child with allergies, I have to leave medication with the nurse so I have the paperwork and medication ready to take to the office on the first day of school. If we have new staff in the office, I include a recent photo that they can leave with the medication (a tip I got from our former school nurse).
- Lay out clothes the night before – This might apply more to you than your children, depending on what your kids are like. If your children are picky about their outfits or wear uniforms, make sure their first-day outfits are ready to go in the morning so as to avoid unnecessary delays.
I also suggest having a discussion with your children about what to expect the first day of school, such as who their teacher is or might be, and where to meet at the end of the day. Depending on the circumstances, your child will need more or less detail. For instance, my older child is off to middle school this year so we’ve been talking a lot about staying organized, moving from classroom to classroom, transportation, and more. But my younger child is just moving up a grade in elementary school, so we’ve hardly talked at all.
Another tip is to shop the loss leaders at back to school sales and stock up on supplies the kids will need throughout the school year (you can see the weekly deals here). When my kids tell me they need more pencils or a new spiral notebook, I love being able to raid the closet rather than having to drive to a store to pick up what they need. And the sale prices now are often 75% or more off of what you’ll pay the rest of the year.
Finally, plan something fun for yourself, especially if you are a stay or work at home parent and the kids have been around a lot more during the summer than they are during the school year. Although it can be a relief to see the kids off to school, the house can also seem a bit lonely and empty that first week. It’s a great time to catch up with friends you were too busy to get together with during the summer!