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Planning For School Guide: Tips, Tricks, Hot Ticket Items & More

Aug 26, 2019 11:10AM ● By Sue Baldani
While some things will stay the same overall, getting your children ready to go back to school will change as they move from preschool to college. Here are some tips to make it easier to handle as they grow.

  • Get children back on a normal wake up and bedtime schedule a few weeks before school even starts. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children 6-13 years old sleep nine to eleven hours each night and teenagers sleep eight to ten hours each night.
  • Check with the school to see what supplies are needed. Many give out a list ahead of time. Depending on the teacher and the types of classes, the list will probably change every year. See some hot items for 2019 at the end of this guide.
  • Have younger kids pick out their outfits the night before. And not just pants and shirts, but socks and underwear, shoes, hair clips and anything else they might be putting on the next morning.
  • Remind children to get their backpacks ready for the next morning by putting their homework, school books, permission slips and anything else needed in there before they go to bed.
  • Have kids bathe and/or shower the night before, so it’s one less thing to worry about in the morning. Battles over the bathroom are never easy.
  • Before going to bed, get out the breakfast bowls, plates, and utensils and set the table. Then put out cereal boxes, fruit and whatever else your kids eat in the morning that doesn’t have to be kept cold. One less thing to do upon getting up.
  • To make mornings even less hectic, set the alarm and wake children early enough so if something unexpected does happen, like misplacing a textbook, there is a little extra time to deal with it. Rushing around is not the best way to start the day, for school or for work. It can leave kids and parents feeling harried and less able to focus throughout the entire day.
  • If possible, have kids do their homework right after school. Putting it off until later in the evening when everyone is tired is not a good idea. Have them choose a spot where they will do it, whether it’s the kitchen table, in their bedrooms sitting on their beds, or at their desks. Make it a routine and after a while, they’ll just do it automatically.  If they’re involved in sports or other extracurricular activities, buy them lap desks so they can get homework done in the car as you drive them to and from games and events.
  • Make sure your child has all required vaccinations or exemption certificates.
  • Speak to your children about what to do in an emergency situation. Find out what plans the school has in place as well so you can give your children the right information.


At this age, not only are you dealing with making sure you have all the necessary school supplies, clothes, and schedules, but you also have to take time to prepare your new student for a whole new routine.

  • Bring school into everyday conversations. Talk about what it’s going to be like, what they’ll do during the day, whom their teacher will be, and what times you will drop them off and pick them up.
  •  If it hasn’t already been done, see if you can bring your child to his classroom and meet the teacher before regularly scheduled classes begin. This way he will be familiar with both upon starting the first day of school.
  • Explain to your child what their new routines will be. Go over schedules so they know what to expect.
  • Discuss food choices and let your child pick out a fun lunchbox that she can take when she doesn’t feel like eating the cafeteria food.
  • Get to know his classmates. Arrange playdates so your child will already have friends in the class before school even begins. Seeing a familiar face will help lessen anxiety.
  • Give them a picture of you that they can take with them. This way, when they are missing you, they can look at this photo.
  • Share your excitement. On the first day of school, make it an adventure and don’t let your own separation anxiety sneak through. Stay calm and more than likely your child will too.



Middle School/Junior High

This is a time of big change. While younger children usually stay in one classroom and have one main teacher, middle school and junior high school students have different classes and teachers throughout the day. They have to navigate hallways, switch books at their lockers, and reach their classrooms all in a limited amount of time.

  • If possible, visit the school with your child beforehand so she will know where her classes are and where to find the gym, cafeteria, nurse’s office, and restrooms.
  • Unless they go to a private school where uniforms are worn, preteens and teens often begin to focus very much on the types and brands of clothing and shoes they wear and are preoccupied with their overall appearance. Check the school’s dress code to make sure the clothes your teen is choosing are appropriate and allowed, but otherwise, let them choose their own style. And be sure to set a budget!
  • Kids at this age start to guard their privacy and may not initiate conversations as much as they used to. Make a point of asking them about their classes and friends on a regular basis and let them know they can come to you with any problems, whether school-related or not. Also watch for signs of bullying, either coming from your child or directed at your child.

High School

By this time, kids are often used to changing class and teachers throughout the day, but now they may be in a much bigger building with a lot more students. This means moving between classes with much more crowded hallways and having classes with kids they’ve never met. For many teens, it also means beginning to focus on their futures after high school.

  • Teens have a tendency to go to bed later than younger kids. Set a limit with electronics, and make sure tablets, phones and televisions are turned off by a certain time.
  • Set a budget. Back to school shopping can now get very expensive. Tell your teen the budget beforehand and let them know they have to work within it when picking out clothing, footwear, notebooks, backpacks and other items.
  • If they don’t yet have their driver’s licenses or vehicles, help them arrange transportation for getting them to and from extracurricular activities.
  • If the teen is entering his or her junior year, schedule PSAT and other tests if your child is college-bound. It’s also a good idea to meet with their guidance counselors to make sure they are taking courses necessary for college admissions.
  • If your teen is entering his or her senior year, schedule the SAT and start researching colleges. Once again, speak to your teen about budgets, financial aid scholarships and any restrictions with the locations of the schools. For example, if your teen wants to attend a college far from home, travel expenses can be very high, especially during breaks and holidays.


If your child is living at home and attending school, basic back to school shopping will suffice. However, if he or she will be living in a dorm or their own apartment off-campus, it will be much more complicated.

  • If your child will be living in a dorm, find out what he or she is allowed to bring, such as a coffee pot, microwave or hot plate. Find out what roommate(s) also plan to bring so you don’t duplicate items. Splitting it up will also save money.
  • Shop early. Extra-long sheets and other specialty items can sell out fast. Check what kind of storage space the rooms have and buy bins and other containers to keep things in.
  • Know the climate. Clothing and shoe shopping will depend on whether the college is in a warm or cold climate.
  • Look into meal plans, health providers, pharmacies and other services your child may need.
  • Find out about transportation options. Some campuses only allow juniors and seniors to have cars while living in their dorms.

Adult/Night School

Going back to school can be daunting as an adult who has been out of the academic world for a while. However, being older and more mature can be a big advantage when it comes to scheduling time wisely and getting assignments done. There’s no worrying about peer pressure, wearing the latest styles, or who you’ll eat lunch with.

  • Buy a good planner. Although most people use the calendar on their phones, being able to see it on paper and in a bigger format can be more helpful in keeping your home, work, and school life organized.
  • Explain to your family and friends that you will have a more limited schedule while in school.
  • Ask for help. This is where family can help with household chores, such as cooking and cleaning, and friends can pitch in with carpooling and babysitting duties. 

Hot products for back-to-school 2019:



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