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Back To School Checklist

Be Prepared and Save Money

Getting ready to go back to school can be a hectic time. If you have more than one child, you'll have supply lists for each different grade level. The budget could take a beating if you're not a careful shopper. Being prepared will save money and time.

Don't get caught up in the brand name school supply trap. Many back to school supply lists name specific brands. But you don't have to purchase a brand name, if it's not in your budget. I promise, the school supply police will not come knocking on your door! But, your kids don't have to be the "generic" kids at school either.

If you follow the advice offered in our tips to save money on back to school supplies, you're likely to save money on brand names as well. Just keep watching for those 10 cent and 25 cent "back to school" sales I mentioned on brand name crayons, markers, etc. Stock up for the whole year.

Take it easy, slow down, you don't have to do all that back to school shopping in one day! Remember, never pay more than you have to for anything you buy or do. No matter what your kids say, that goes for back to school supplies, too! Get the kids back to school and keep your budget on track. Use our school supply money saving tips here to stay on budget and save money on all of your back to school supplies.

Preparing your child to go back to school doesn't mean just having the right supplies. Use the following checklist, or customize your own by simply registering with Club Mom (it's free), to help your child get ready to go back to school.

Whether it's their first day of school or they are experienced students going back to school, being prepared will ease the anxiety. Little ones, and teens, will be better prepared to handle going back to school if they are prepared and know what to expect!


Getting Ready for Back-to-School

Register with ClubMom now to customize this back to school list.

Preschool--one month to one week before school:

Spend time talking with your child about school.
Practice separating for hours at a time.
Read stories about the first day of school to your child.
Plan a back-to-school shopping expedition.
Buy or gather supplies your preschooler will likely need to bring to school.
Buy supplies your preschooler will likely need to use at home:
Put your child's name on her supplies, lunchbox, mat, blanket, pillow, and inside clothing.
Teach your child important safety information and make sure she commits it to memory.


Preschool--one week before school:

Whether your child will walk, ride the bus, or be driven to school, take a "dry run" of the route with your child.
If your child will be taking the bus to school, do a practice walk to the bus stop.
Attend an open house or get-acquainted day at school, if there is one, with your child.
If there's no open house, schedule an appointment to take a tour of the school building with your child.
Put your child to bed earlier each night until she's turning in at an appropriate school-night bedtime.
Get your child used to waking up in the morning at a school-day appropriate time.
Spend the last day or two before school starts at home with your child.


Preschool--the night before school starts:

Pick out school clothes for the morning.
Tuck in your child at an appropriate school-night hour.
Before your child goes to sleep, listen carefully to her fears and respond.
Read a bedtime, back-to-school storybook to your child.
Pack stay-at-school cubby supplies in a bag that can also stay at school.
Pack your child's lunch for the next day and refrigerate it.
Gather in one place everything that's going to school with your child in the morning.


Preschool--the morning school starts:

Take care of any last-minute tasks.
Even if you can't do so every day, try to bring your child to school personally on the first day and say goodbyes there.
Let your child get used to the environment before you leave.
Register to customize this back to school list.

Primary school--several months before school:

For a child, entering elementary school means entering the academic world for the first time. This brings with it a whole new set of anxieties and preparations.
Speak to the principal in the spring or summer before school starts about what your child is expected to know by the time she enters kindergarten or first grade.
Help her get up to speed so she can keep up academically with the rest of her class.
If your child has any special needs, notify the school and confirm that acceptable accommodations can be made.
Register to customize this back to school list.

Primary school--one month to one week before school:

Try on last-year's school clothes to see what still fits.
Go shopping for those items that have to be replaced.
If you'll be buying a school uniform, find out from your school whether any local retailers are offering special deals. If so, you may be able to get a new uniform for your child at a discount.
Stock up on supplies your child will need to bring to school.
Let your child select her own lunchbox, backpack, and outfit for the first day of school.
Stock up on supplies your child will need to have on hand at home.
If you have a home computer, make sure it is ready to be used for schoolwork.
Schedule an appointment with your child's pediatrician for a physical exam, if needed.
Bring the school's medical form with you to your child's doctor appointment so it can be filled out.
Make arrangements for after-school activities or childcare.
If you plan to participate in any carpools, start organizing them now.
Spend time listening to your child's concerns about going back to school.
Sew name tags or write your child's name in indelible ink on clothing she's likely to take off during the day and small items like headbands, hats, and mittens.


Primary school--one week before school:

Read through and review school regulations with your child.
Make sure all school forms have been completed and returned to school.
Take your child to check out her classroom and say hello to the teacher.
Attend an open house or "get acquainted" school event with your child, if there is one.
Help your child become familiar with the route to and from school.
Start moving bedtime back until your child is turning in at an appropriate school-night hour.


Primary school--the night before school starts:

Designate a place in the house for school paperwork.
Check your child's backpack to be sure she has everything she needs.
Go over after-school plans with your child.
Help your child pick out clothes for the next day.
Start the bedtime routine a bit early so your child is sure to get plenty of sleep.
Spend some tuck-in time talking with your child about school.
Pack lunch for your child and refrigerate it until morning.
Register now to customize this list.

Primary school--the morning school starts:

Encourage your child to start getting her morning act together on her own.
Take care of any last minute tasks.
Remind your child of her after-school plans.
Even if you can't do it every day, if possible, take your child to the bus stop or to school on the first day.
Say a cheerful goodbye and leave promptly when the bus comes or bell rings.


Primary school--after the first day of school:

Prepare a snack for your child, and one for yourself.
Get your child to talk about her first-day impressions.
Call the school immediately if you have any questions or concerns.
Ask for--and read--any notices that were sent home.
Purchase whatever additional school supplies and materials are required.
Make a special dinner.
Register now to customize this list.

Middle and high school--one month before school:

Be ready to grant your adolescent some new privileges.
Allowing your child to do her own back-to-school shopping is a good way to show her you trust her judgment.
Take the initiative to start back-to-school preparations.
Encourage your child to try on last-year's school clothes and see what still fits.
Go shopping, together if needed, for those wardrobe items that have to be replaced or updated.
If your child will need a school uniform, find out from your school whether any local retailers are offering special deals. If so, you may be able to enjoy a discount.
Encourage your child to shop for school supplies on her own.
If you have a home computer, make sure it is ready to be used for schoolwork.
Schedule an appointment with your child's doctor for a physical exam, if needed.
Bring the school's medical form with to your child's doctor appointment so it can be filled out.
Talk with your child about after-school activities she'd like to participate in and make the necessary arrangements.
If you plan to participate in any carpools, start organizing them now.
Try to take your child to school ahead of time.
If your child has any special needs, notify the school and confirm that acceptable accommodations can be made.
Register to customize this back to school list.

Middle through high school--one week before school:

Address any concerns your child may have about going back to school.
Familiarize your child with her new school-year schedule.
Read through and review school regulations with your child.
Make sure that all school forms have been completed and returned to school.


Middle and high school--the night before school starts:

Remind your child to pack her book bag.
Designate a place in the house for school paperwork.
Spend some time talking with your child about school.
Try to get your child to bed at a reasonable hour.
If your child lets you, pack her lunch or snack.


Middle and high school--the morning school starts:

Make sure your child wakes up in time for school.
Prepare a special breakfast.
Go over after-school plans.
Let your child know where you'll be all day and how to reach you.
Say a cheerful, confident goodbye.


Middle through high school--after the first day of school:

Try to be there when your child arrives home from school the first day.
Prepare a snack for your child, and one for yourself.
Get your child to talk about her first-day impressions.
Call the school immediately if you have any questions or concerns.
Ask for--and read--any notices that were sent home.
Purchase whatever additional school supplies and materials are required.
Make a special dinner.
Register to customize this back to school list.

Back-to-school resources for parents:



"A+ Parents: Help Your Child Learn and Succeed in School" by Adrienne Mack (McBooks Press)


"Off to a Good Start: Launching the School Year" from The Responsive Classroom Series, #1 (Northeast Foundation for Children)


"Smart Parenting: An Easy Approach to Raising Happy, Well-Adjusted Kids" by Dr. Peter Favaro (NTC/Contemporary Publishing)


"Smart Start: The Parents' Complete Guide to Preschool Education" by Marian Edelman Borden (Facts on File)


"Adolescents' Worlds: Negotiating Family, Peers, and School" by Patricia Phelan, Ann Locke Davidson, Hanh Cao Yu (Teachers College Press)


"Helping Your Child Start School: A Practical Guide for Parents" by Bernard Ryan, Jr. (Replica Books)


"Kids Who Start Ahead, Stay Ahead: What Actually Happens When Your Home Taught Early Learner Goes to School" by Dr. Harvey Neil with introduction by Glenn Doman (Avery)


"Helping Your Child Get Ready for School" on the U.S. Dept. of Education's Web site


"Your Child?s First Day at School" from MetLife Online


Back-to-school books for preschoolers and primary schoolers:



"Clara Goes to School" (Let's Start! Series), (Silver Dolphin)


"When You Go to Kindergarten" by James Howe (William Morrow)


"My First Day of School" by P. K. Hallinan (Hambleton-Hill)


"Bumble Bear" (School Zone Start to Read Book) by James Hoffman, et al (School Zone Publishing )


"First Day of School" (A Giant First Start Reader) by Kim Jackson (Troll)


"Kitty from the Start" by Judy Delton (Houghton Mifflin)


"Let's Go to School" (First-Start Easy Reader) by Michelle Petty (Troll)


Back-to-school books for middle and high schoolers:



"101 Surefire Ways to Start the School Year" by Joan Novelli, Susan Shafer (Scholastic)


"Summer Start: How to Organize Your Best School Year Ever" by Pat Fellers, Kathy Gritzmacher (Tops Learning System)


"Jump Start: How to Succeed in School and in Life" by Rafael Beer (Jump Start)
Register to customize this back to school list.

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