Summer can be full of beach days, camp experiences, and playing outdoors, but as July rolls into August, we have to start thinking about the reality of school being right around the corner.  So what do we need to do to prepare our children (and ourselves!) for the shift back to reality and back to school?

School Supplies

Most schools will send a list of required supplies that every child must come to school with. This list usually includes, pens, pencils, notebooks, rulers, glue sticks and other such academic items. This is a great place to start when shopping, however also consider any items that are worn from last year such as lunch box, backpack, and water bottle. This year, in light of Covid-19 precautions you may also consider some additional items such as hand sanitizer, tissues, and fun masks. Try these kids masks with adjustable straps to make children feel more comfortable.

Back to School Clothes

Kids grow so fast! It may feel like you just purchased them new clothes, but the start of a new school year is an ideal time to refresh the Fall and Winter wardrobe since most children will be up a size (if not more!) from the year prior. Purchase layers (sweatshirts, t-shirts, light jackets) for the occasional hot day later in the Fall. Be sure that each child has at least one pair of comfortable sneakers that fit well. Now write the child’s name on the tags of items that may come off at school: jackets, sweatshirts, rain boots, hats, backpack, and more!

Last Minute Errands

Along with everything you need to purchase, the start of the school year is typically a good time to pick up an updated copy of your child’s physical/immunization records. The school will likely request this, so having it on hand in advance will save you from any last minute scrambling. August can also be a great time do visit the dentist and get a hair cut.  

Read Back To School Books

Depending on the age and/or temperament of your children, some may require more preparation than others. Talking to children about who their teachers will be, what other students might be in their class this year, or how fun it will be to make new friends, can really help to ease some of the concerns children may have. There are some great books to help children with the start of school jitters, such as Our Class is a Family and The Day You Begin. For children getting ready to start Kindergarten or a younger grade, reading books about starting school can be reassuring; here are few to get started:

The Night Before Kindergarten 

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten

The Berenstain Bears Go to School

Pete the Kitty’s First Day of Preschool

Plan Playdates With Classmates

If possible, having your child join you for school orientation, back to school night, or any open houses can allow your child to see their new school/classroom, meet the teacher, and possibly even get to know some friends in advance. Any connections with friends that can be made will make children feel more at ease when the time comes for school to start. Using those last few weeks of summer to plan playdates and outings with those children is a great way to help your child prepare to head back to school. 

Prepare Children for the Shift in Routine

It can also be helpful to practice back to school routines a week in advance such as adjusted bedtimes, planning ahead for breakfast and what to wear so you can be on time for the bus or walk to school.  Lastly, hang a large, family calendar in a central location. The calendar is a great tool to help children gauge the time they have until school begins. Add colorful words and pictures on it to symbolize playdates with school friends, school orientation, shopping days, and other events leading up to the first day of school. This will help children feel more involved in the process and give them a stronger sense of control and excitement around starting off another great year!

Get your kids’ wheels turning with some fun, educational games. They won’t even realize they’re learning through their play as they prepare to head back to school.

About The Author

Sarah PSarah Proctor has worked with young children for over 25 years as a teacher, childcare director, nanny, and mom of two girls. She has her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration from UMass Amherst. In addition, Sarah has her Director 2 certification from the Department of Early Education and Care.