Saturday, July 31, 2021

40 Back to School Tips

I was at Walmart today and forgot that school will start here on August 9th so needless to say, it was a madhouse with back to school shopping!  Here are a bunch of tips for back to school (even though its been a couple decades since we had kids to get ready for school I think many of these things still apply!)...

  1. If your kids qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, sign them up!  Our school district has decided to just provide free meals for all kids this year.
  2. If your kids will be taking their lunch, check out zero-waste options as well as ideas for cheap yet healthy lunches you can make them.
  3. Your first stop for back-to-school info should be your local school district's website (ours is a font of information for all things school-related).
  4. Google for free student resources (there are a million websites full of free stuff for kids).
  5. If your kids don't have a library card for your community's library, get them one.  Our library has so many great resources for kids and everyone else!
  6. Be sure to seek out student discounts (again, there are so many pages of these online).
  7. You can also sign your kids up for free National Park passes if they qualify.
  8. You can Google your local area for Back-To-School immunization clinics which provide free immunizations to kids which are required in many school districts.
  9. You can also Goggle for resources and news articles about free school supplies for kids in need.
  10. When it comes to school shopping you can start with free (ask for hand me downs from friends and relative's kids, hit up free clothing banks, etc).
  11. You can also go cheap on school clothes and still have totally presentable kids (shopping at the Goodwill and other thrift stores on discount days can give your kids A LOT of great clothes for very little money).
  12. Plan in advance how your kids will get to and from school.  Back when I was a kid it was walking or walking, these days most kids I know are driven to and from school by their parents (my parents would have keeled over laughing if I asked to be driven to school outside of a complete emergency situation!).  If they are walking or bicycling or taking a bus, have them practice how to do these things before school starts.
  13. If your kids will be taking public transit to school, most systems have discounted monthly passes for students which you can get prior to school starting.
  14. If your kids will have cell phones this school year check out cheap plans (I like Mint) and be sure to put your phone number ICE (in case of emergency) on their lock screen.
  15. Also set clear limits on the use of electronic devices by your kids (thank goodness this wasn't an issue when our kids were young!).
  16. Pretty obvious, but line up your before and after school child care options ASAP.  This ranges from a nanny or babysitter, to enlisting grandparents to help out, to school-sponsored before and after school care.  
  17. When the kids were young, hubby would put a little emergency bag in each of their school backpacks which included a granola bar, a $20 bill (with a stern warning it was for dire emergencies only!), a laminated list of our phone numbers as well as numbers of a neighbor, a few relatives, and a few friends, etc.
  18. Check on the school district's website and read their active shooter/winter storms/emergency plans then review these with the kids so they will know what is expected to happen during an emergency.  When the grandkids said they have active shooter drills I was pretty shocked and saddened that they would even have to worry about such a thing but prepared is better than being unprepared I guess.
  19. Start your kid's school sleep routine a week or so before school starts.  When the grandkids were here a couple weeks ago I wondered if they always stayed up until 2am but their dad said they would be back to their going-to-bed-at 8pm routine when they got back home so they would already have their routine down when school starts.
  20. For kids who are new to school--whether kindergartners or kids who have moved to a new school--most schools have open houses or days that they are open before school officially starts so kids can come in and check out their school/classroom, meet their teacher, etc.  This is a good thing to take advantage of so kids will feel more comfortable on the first day of school.
  21. Set up systems to keep your kids organized and on track.  A calendar/calendar app, a place at home to do homework, a place for school bags, a "supply closet" for when they need more school supplies, access to their school/class portal for checking grades/assignments/etc.
  22. Have a set daily schedule.  Have breakfast at the same time, leave for the bus at the same time, do homework at the same time, do chores at the same time, have parents check homework daily at the same time, etc.  This keeps everyone on track.
  23. When it comes to cell phones/tablets/laptops for students, check out free software for students and student discounts for hardware at many retailers.
  24. Also, consider using parental controls on your kids laptops/cell phones/tablets/social media accounts/etc.  I am so glad all of this was a non-issue when I, and the kids, were young--it sounds like a nightmare for parents to deal with!  Depending on how tech savvy your kid is, this may or may not be effective. 
  25. If possible, get your kids a dental exam/cleaning, vision check, hearing check, and school sports physical prior to going back to school.  It's always good to start school with all of these things done!
  26. Speaking of sports, determine ahead of time what sports and activities your kids will participate in and be proactive about having them ready before the season starts (ie: waivers signed, uniforms and equipment purchased, pre conditioning, etc).
  27. Speaking of fresh starts, completely clean your kid's rooms, maybe update their bedding, donate clothes and shoes they no longer fit/wear, get them new pajamas...making the start of school a fun annual event makes kids look forward to starting a new school year.
  28. Prior to school starting--really all summer if possible--have your kids read, write, and 'rithmatic if possible.  This will get them prepped for school so they won't start out the school year already behind (this is called the Summer Slide in school talk).
  29. For high school students who intend to go to college, check and see if they qualify for programs which offer high school and college classes simultaneously (this will save them A LOT of money as college tuition is usually free with these programs).
  30. Also for kids who intend to go to college, have them start applying for scholarships as soon as possible (the less college loans they need, the better!). 
  31. For kids who re iffy about college, expose them to other career paths such as the military, apprenticeship programs, business ownership, and other college alternatives.
  32. By in bulk and buy ahead of time.  For example, buy a year's worth of school supplies in the summer when most stores have deep discounts on school supplies; give them half now and half after winter break.  Instead of two bags of socks, buy four and save two to give to your child after winter break.  Start looking now when you go to the Goodwill for homecoming and prom dresses (our Goodwill has AMAZING formal dresses for really cheap).
  33. Review the school rules, class rules, student code of conduct, etc. with your kids so they won't be surprised if they inadvertently break a rule.  Some schools are sticklers for dress codes, some programs will drop kids who break their ethics codes, etc.
  34. If possible, have your kids socialize with their classmates during the summer or prior to school starting so they will already have friends to hang out with/walk to school with when school starts.
  35. Familiarize yourself with social problems your kids are likely to encounter including bullying, suicidal ideation, etc.  While bullying has always been a thing, suicide in kids--even as young as 9 or 10--isn't uncommon these days.  Here's some tips.
  36. Parents should definitely use the school's portal for everything from making sure there is money in their student's lunch account to checking grades, communicating with teachers, checking the school's calendar regularly, etc.
  37. Plan regular fun activities for kids on the weekends.  Our library always has free kid's activities every weekend, we have low-cost swimming pools, free community events, and other fun yet inexpensive things for families to do.  This breaks up the tedium of school for everyone!
  38. Also on weekends, consider teaching your kids useful life skills (I heard schools don't even have shop class or home ec classes anymore!).
  39. Try to have your kids participate in at least one after school sport or activity (busy kids don't have time to get in trouble usually!).
  40. Teach your kids by your actions how to help others. Donate school supplies, volunteer at your child's school, show up for your kids school activities, etc.

Hopefully kids and their schools can "get back to normal" after last school year!


  1. Those are excellent tips. I taught my children things all the time, things they did not teach in school. Even the two year old "knew" multiplication, just pseudo learning. I tried to buy at least part of their school clothes on sale the year before. And, made girls' clothing.

    1. Wow that's an amazing skill to be able to make your own clothes! I tried a couple of sewing projects in home ec class and they didn't turn out so well :/