101 Back-to-School Tips for Families

With a new academic year around the corner getting back into the swing of school schedule can be a tough post summer adjustment for kids and parents.

With a new academic year around the corner getting back into the swing of school schedule can be a tough post summer adjustment for kids and parents. Whether its beating the school run rush or beating the summer homework slide, we’ve got some tips to help.
Top of the list is planning ahead! Consider those strategies and approaches that are going to help you stay on top and ease your children gently back into the school. Here are 101 other tips help you and your family:


  1. A week or two before the school year begins, kids should start going to bed and waking up as they would on school days — it can take a while for their bodies to adjust to non-summer hours.
  2. Get children on a regular exercise program or into an active hobby to create good habits and burn off extra energy.
  3. Take kids to cultural attractions like museums or historical sites the week before school starts. Get them thinking about subjects they’ll be tackling in the year ahead.
  4. Hire an after-school sitter to pick for your kids up from school, bring them to activities and care for them while you’re at work.
  5. Encourage kids to read a book in the week or two before school begins. Ease them into quiet time, while giving them a jumpstart on refreshing their reading skills.
  6. Get kids accustomed to a calendar schedule, like what they’ll use to manage their classes and extracurricular activities.
  7. Use a homework app such as iHomework or MyHomeWork to help kids organize assignments.
  8. Let kids choose a planner or scheduling tool that they’re excited to use, whether it’s written or technology-based.
  9. Set up regular weekly meetings with your child to review their schedules, assignments and activities for the week ahead.
  10. Create a family calendar — whether a Google Calendar or a colorful Wall Calendar — that highlights family activities and everyone’s major commitments. This helps make planning easier, while pinpointing conflicts.
  11. Set or refresh the rules about technology and screen time during the school year. What’s allowed and when?
  12. Choose a time to focus on family conversations and connections, such as during dinner or before bedtime.
  13. End the summer on a positive note, allowing kids a specific day with activities they choose (e.g. swimming or a visit to a theme park) to start their transition to fall.
  14. Ask kids to estimate how long homework assignments will take, and then compare it against how long each actually assignment takes. It will help them practice better time management.
  15. Use an egg timer to help kids focus for specific periods of time. Make it a game.
  16. Encourage your kids to prioritize their assignments, and make a to-do list that lists deadlines.
  17. Allow kids a short break after each assignment they finish, such as a snack or a short walk.
  18. Avoid becoming the Homework Cop by setting an alarm each day that signals the start of homework time.
  19. Discuss what to expect on the first day with your children, such as gathering for home room and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. This can help them feel more prepared.
  20. Visit the school with your child before school starts. If possible, allow her to see her new classroom and play in the schoolyard. Familiarity breeds comfort.
  21. Arrange play dates with two or three of your child’s classmates to rebuild social ties that cooled over the summer.
  22. Ask the principal or teacher for a class roster with contact numbers to arrange playdates. If your child can make one or two friends before school starts, she or he will be so much happier to go to school.
  23. Inventory last year’s school supplies before buying more.
  24. Obtain a list of supplies, books and technology needed for the class before you invest in school supplies.
  25. Include your child in shopping for school supplies. Encourage him to choose his own backpack and lunch box.
  26. Make a plan for organizing those supplies — and keeping them organized.
  27. Create a dedicated space where your child stores all of his or her school supplies and technology when they’re not being used.
  28. Decide what area will be used as homework space, whether it’s the dining room table or a family office.
  29. Remove distractions such as TVs and video game consoles from homework areas.
  30. Repurpose plastic tubs to organize school supplies, labeling each one with details such as folders or pencils.
  31. Encourage kids to develop a filing system where they can store research material, drawings and graded papers for each class.
  32. Set a weekday bedtime and a weekend bedtime, and enforce them strictly.
  33. Agree on a weekday and weekend time to get up, and keep kids on a regular schedule.
  34. Review commitments for extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs before signing up, to avoid over scheduling.
  35. Ask kids to set goals for the year ahead, such as reading 30 books or maintaining an A-minus average. Having something to shoot for keeps even hard to focus kids on target.
  36. Help kids prioritize their activities each week — including sports, homework, and family time — by connecting them to goals.
  37. Create a list together of fun after-school activities and games, so kids will never be bored when they get home.
  38. Touch base with teachers early in the semester to identify and troubleshoot behavioral or study issues. Open lines of communication go a long way.
  39. Lay out an afternoon schedule each day that allows time for a snack, relaxation, play, study and the bedtime routine.
  40. Go over your child’s bedtime routine — is there anything that should change to make it more efficient? Follow these printable checklists for elementary school kids and preschoolers.
  41. Figure out blocks of time for children to have fun during the week, by playing sports or spending time with friends.
  42. Hire a tutor, babysitter or homework helper to help you navigate homework time.
  43. Remember, kids mimic your behavior. Focus on working on your own projects while they do homework, rather than watching TV or being on the phone.
  44. Layout clothes the night before and encourage kids who are old enough to dress themselves before having breakfast.
  45. Set expectations for the morning routine, such as waking up, making their bed, showering and getting dressed. Use this printable checklist.
  46. Pack any gym or sports bags the night before, so they can easily be taken out the door in the morning.
  47. Encourage kids to pack their backpacks before they go to sleep at night.
  48. If your kids bring their own lunch, pack the lunches before going to bed so kids can take them as they head to school.
  49. Ask kids to help you stay organized, by putting lunchboxes in the sink and dirty gym clothes in the hamper when they get home.
  50. Is your home setup kid-friendly? Low hooks make it easy for younger children to hang up their coats, for example.
  51. Monthly, toss assignments and school supplies that don’t need to be kept.
  52. File away or scan assignments that you want to hang onto.
  53. Create an inbox where children can leave permission slips, school announcements and other things that need your attention.
  54. Set up a plastic tub that’s a put-away bin: anything out of its place will be placed there and every few days the family will clear it.
  55. Have a set time each week to sync up individual calendars with the family calendar.
  56. Inventory your kid’s wardrobe from last year. Toss or donate things they’ve outgrown or that are too worn.
  57. Come up with a list of things needed and budget guidelines before school shopping.
  58. Include your child in choosing clothes, shoes and other items they’ll need.
  59. Schedule time every 2 to 3 months to go through clothing and get rid of things that no longer fit.
  60. Set up a laundry hamper system that makes it easy to wash and sort each person’s clothes.
  61. Consider a homework caddy that contains supplies such as markers and pencils and can be carried throughout the house.
  62. Bulk package snacks for kids on the weekend, such as bags of grapes or cheese and crackers, which can easily be added to lunches.
  63. Discuss the pros and cons of sending a lunch with your child versus her eating at school, with budget, health and available time in mind.
  64. Get copies of school menus in advance to discuss lunch choices.
  65. Create menus of daily lunches or snacks sent from home. Bulk shop and get kids involved in preparing them.
  66. Buy kids a reusable sports bottle that can be used to increase water consumption throughout the day.
  67. Keep a small emergency allowance in your kids’ bags, in case they need to purchase food or a beverage.
  68. Put lunch ingredients in one area of your fridge so they’re easy to find. Learn
  69. Purchase lunch boxes or reusable bags so you don’t have to remember to buy paper bags.
  70. Make a week’s worth of sandwiches on the weekend, and freeze them wrapped in tinfoil. Unthaw the night before.
  71. Use sticky note flags to highlight important reading passages, documents that need to be signed and places where children left off on their homework.
  72. Arrange for a study date where kids spend supervised time working together on projects or discussing the curriculum.
  73. Have a backup transportation mode planned. If your child misses the bus, know if you’ll be able to drive her or if you can call a neighbor to carpool.
  74. Set your clocks forward 10 minutes. This makes it easier to be on time.
  75. Schedule blocks of time in your schedule each day/week, where you check in with each child to see how things are going.
  76. Hire a housekeeper to help with cleaning or send out your laundry. Regular or occasional assistance can keep you sane and help you get ahead on your to do list.
  77. Schedule at least one 30 minute block in your calendar for yourself — take a relaxing bath, read a book or go to the gym.
  78. Set up a system of rewards for when your kids meet goals, such as following routines, finishing homework and helping around the house.
  79. Shop for school supplies and clothes early. Avoid the rush.
  80. Use positive phrasing, such as “you can go outside after your homework is done,” instead of “you’re not going outside until this is finished.”
  81. Make sure your kids (and you!) have an effective wake-up alarm that works with their personalities.
  82. Set an alarm or notification 30 minutes before bedtime.
  83. Remove distractions, such as tablets, cell phones and computers, from kids’ bedrooms to help them focus on sleeping.
  84. Use night lights, white sound machines and fans for kids who have trouble getting to sleep. If it’s a regular problem, talk to their pediatrician.
  85. Keep a single easy-to-access file of paperwork needed for activities and school, like vaccination records and birth certificates.
  86. Set up the breakfast table — cereal bowls ready to go and coffee set to brew — before you go to bed.
  87. Map out a bathroom schedule if space is tight or your family fights for bathroom time.
  88. Replace old backpacks with ones that are sturdy, ergonomic and kid-friendly.
  89. Keep a list in your bag or on your smartphone with a running list of school supplies, clothing items and food that need to be purchased each week.
  90. Use a see-and-store toy rack that makes it easy for even the youngest kids to stay organized.
  91. Set up a hanging organizer with five boxes for each day of the week. On Sundays, select the clothing that’s going in each day for the week ahead. Kids can then dress themselves.
  92. Dedicate a rack in the garage, basement or entry way for sports equipment, making it easy to find and keep dirt out of your home.
  93. Create a pet care schedule, with who does what, to make sure pets are regularly walked, fed, watered and played with during hectic times of year. Consider hiring a pet care professional to help.
  94. Schedule adequate study blocks on the weekends before big tests, mid-terms and finals.
  95. Use under-the-bed storage for out-of-season clothes and toys that aren’t regularly used.
  96. Give each person a shower caddy, to organize their bathroom supplies and shorten the time it takes to get ready in the morning.
  97. Have a playdate caddy ready to go, with an extra set of clothes, games and toys that are good for two or more kids to use.
  98. Figure out ways you can be involved in the classroom this school year — no matter how much time you can devote.
  99. Talk with your kids about their feelings returning to school. Discuss fears, concerns or worries openly to reassure your child.
  100. Do something fun or find a way to laugh. Diffuse this stressful time of year for you and for them.
  101. Take a breath! With all this preparation, your kids will be in great shape. If you’re relaxed and calm, they’ll head off to school feeling excited and ready to get to work.



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