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Back-to-School Checklist

Back-to-School Checklist

Get your kids ready for a new school year

Are your kids prepared for the new school year? Are you? While kids need to prepare emotionally and mentally for getting into the back-to-school routine, parents need to get ready on many fronts too. Here's a handy checklist of preparations to tackle before school starts.

Health prep

To help make sure your child stays healthy during the school year:

Get vaccinations up-to-date. Immunizations can protect your child against serious childhood diseases. Check with the school to find out what vaccinations it requires.

Arrange for a sports physical if your child plays sports. An exam can give you peace of mind that your kid can handle the physical demands asked of them in school sports and extracurricular activities. In fact, most sports require a physical for a medical eligibility form.

At-home prep

Before the first day of school, spend time with your child on some important issues:

Transition to school sleep/wake schedule. A good night's sleep will help your child concentrate, retain information and prevent mood swings. To aid the transition from vacation time to school time, figure out how many weeks it will take for your child to fall into an optimum sleep routine for school nights if they go to bed and wake up 15 minutes earlier every few days before school starts.

Create a study area. Prepare a well-lit place where your child can do their homework. Make sure it's a quiet space without electronic distractions.

Choose a suitable backpack. For safety's sake, a filled backpack should weigh no more than 10% to 20% of your child's body weight. Adjust the backpack so the bottom meets your child's waist. If your child's load is heavy, consider a rolling backpack. And don't forget to tuck an in-case-of-emergency card in the backpack.

Talk to your kids about bullying. Bullying is linked to a range of educational and emotional problems. Make sure your child knows:

  • To seek a trusted adult for help if they are bullied.
  • How to respond nonviolently to bullying.
  • That you're monitoring their texts and social media accounts for bullying behavior.
  • That it's never OK to bully someone, even if encouraged by others.

To-and-from-school prep

Whether your child rides the bus, bicycles or walks to school, take steps to ensure their safety:

Review your child's route to school in advance. Drive the route so your child knows what to expect. Or bicycle or walk the route with them.

Set up carpooling shifts. If you prefer to drive your child, find other parents who are safety minded.

Talk to your child about bus stop, bicycling and walking safety. Make sure they know about crosswalk, biking and walking protocols.

Before-and-after-school care prep

Arrange for caretaking. If you need help before or after school, look into responsible school programs, off-site institutions, or caretakers at your home or theirs.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Sleep Foundation