First Steps

  • Call the school district with questions about your child's school
  • Find out what day classes start and what time your child should arrive
  • Enroll your child (if she is not already registered from the previous year)
  • Fill out emergency contact sheets and any other required forms

Check Medical Requirements

  • Make sure your child has all required immunizations
  • Schedule a physical exam for your child if needed to participate in school activities
  • Get your child's vision checked before school starts if he is due for an exam
  • Notify the principal's office, the school nurse, and your child's teachers about any health problems or medications

Stock Up on School Supplies

  • Check the school website or call for a list of required supplies
  • Find out whether students will store supplies at school or bring them home each day
  • Buy a backpack or bag to carry daily items
  • Review the school dress code
  • Buy school uniforms and gym clothes, if necessary

Learn About the School

  • Find out whether the teacher prefers to communicate by phone, email, or written note
  • Know what your child is expected to learn in her grade level
  • Familiarize yourself with the information on the school website
  • Note the phone numbers for checking school closures or reporting absences
  • Find out the procedure for taking your child out of school early
  • Read the school handbook and make sure your child understands the rules
  • Review the school's federal "report card"

Plan To Be Involved

  • Mark school events on the family calendar
  • Attend the back-to-school program
  • Schedule and attend parent-teacher conferences
  • Meet leaders of the parent-teacher group

Plan Healthy Meals

  • Have nutritious food on hand for breakfast and after-school snacks
  • Find out how much school breakfasts and lunches cost
  • Find out whether snacks and drinks are available at school or can be brought from home
  • Ask where to obtain weekly school lunch menus
  • Alert school staff if your child has a severe food allergy

Arrange Transportation

  • Practice getting to school with your child
    • BUS: Make sure she knows where and when to be picked up before and after school
    • BICYCLE: Review road safety and make sure he has a helmet
    • ON FOOT: Walk the route together and review pedestrian safety guidelines
  • Arrange a carpool if necessary and introduce your child to the other adults and children
  • Compile contact information of parents who can pick up your child in an emergency

Make After-School Plans

  • Arrange child care or after-school activities
  • Choose extracurricular activities carefully to avoid overscheduling
  • Make sure your child knows where to go after school each day

Help Your Child Prepare for School

  • Arrange for your child to play with others in his age group before classes start
  • Discuss your child's feelings about starting school and talk over any concerns
  • Talk with your child about his daily school schedule
  • Talk about peer pressure with your child
  • Have your child memorize your home address and home and work phone numbers
  • Tour the school with your child so she can find her classrooms, the restrooms, and the cafeteria
  • Arrange a time for you and your child to meet his new teachers

Lay the Ground Rules

  • Establish a firm bedtime before school starts
  • Determine where and when your child will do homework
  • Figure out a plan for balancing homework and play time
  • Set rules for the time spent on TV, video games, and computer use for non-school projects

Download a PDF version of this back-to-school checklist from the Print & Use Tools section of the site.