Back to School: Prep for all ages

Some people get really worked up about back-to-school, and “what’s on the supply list?! I must know!” Which is totally fine!


I, however, am more lax about this, which is shocking as one who loves to plan and be organized and prepared. The list of supplies your child may need, no matter their age– 4 going to preschool, 8 going to 3rd grade, or a high school senior– will come whenever the list comes.


There are other ways to prepare for school that are much more useful and beneficial that will stick with your child for life.


Let’s work our way up through some ages with examples of how you and your child can prepare for school!


Preschool: they don’t typically need supplies, or anything special. Maybe a water bottle with their name, and a change of clothes. What they do need is to be able to wipe their bums, wash their hands, be able to open and securely close their own water bottle. Things like being able to zip up a jacket, open and close and use glue sticks and squeeze gooey glue would be a major bonus! Talk about leaving them at school and coming back for them. Maybe watch the Daniel Tiger episode with the song “grownups come back” or the first day of school episode. These songs are great tools! A great book to read is the kissing hand!


Elementary: Everything from preschool prep applies here, plus more! Like being able to use scissors, open a crayon or marker box without ripping it to shreds. Can they open everything you packed in their lunch? Get their shoes on/off and tie them if they have laces? Does your child wear glasses, can they clean the lenses on their own? Can they eat their lunch in a timely fashion? School doesn’t give them much time to eat, especially if they have to wait in line for cafeteria lunch. Can your child neatly put papers in their folder? Can they get their own hats and gloves on for winter time? Of course teachers and staff are always willing to help kids do whatever they need done to succeed in their day, like tying shoes and cleaning lenses, but it’s helpful for all parties involved if your child can do these things already! Your child will have pride for being independent! I like to read “The night before Kindergarten/1st grade” etc. books before their appropriate grade, along with the kissing hand! As for anxious and nervous kids (and parents even!), do what you can to prepare for the separation by getting matching bracelets, necklaces, keychains, etc., or send a picture of you and your kid in their backpack that they can look at or hug when they miss you. My son had a hard time going to kindergarten because he missed Mama and baby sister. His teacher suggested I print out photos of our family and slip them in a little photo album for him to have handy. I also wrote a note in the back, and he now takes this to school every year!


Middle School and high school: The only prep you really need here, is talking about being kind, helpful, productive members of society. There is so much bullying and negativity and ugliness in this age range, do what you can at home to discuss and encourage kindness and empathy. It’s also nice to address developing a thick skin, to be able to shrug off insults from the unkind students that there will inevitably be. Another helpful preparation tactic for these ages would be making sure they have a planner, and that they will utilize it. Being organized makes life easier no matter how old you are, and middle school is the age where it really starts being needed. If you can get your kid to adopt an organized mindset (and backpack and locker) early on, it will save headaches for you, them, and their teachers later on!


College kids: they are pretty ready to take on the world at this point, but making sure they can pay for things with cash and debit, be able to pump gas, and know things about their car if they will have one with them (if they get pulled over or in a wreck, do they know what they need and where to find it? What if their battery dies, do they have jumper cables and know how to use them? Can they put air in their tires and fill their wiper fluid? ) Can they make themselves at least simple foods like eggs and pancakes? They may not need to do this, or even be able depending on their living situation, but just to have the know-how is admirable! Prepping them with some self-defense tips and small weapons (think pepper spray, keys between the fingers, lipstick taser type ideas) for when they are walking alone and/or in the dark. Again, the planning and organization we talked about prior, comes into major play here; but also preparing them with some time management tips will change their experience for the better!


No matter your child’s/children’s ages, lists are always helpful. A list of what you need to do/have ready before leaving for school, what to do upon returning home. A list of what they need for each extracurricular activity they may participate in, what they need to do to be ready for bedtime and the next morning.


Regardless of how many kids you have, and how old they are, you have all got this! Take a deep breath, and have a great school year!