Back-to-(Virtual) School Checklist

Starting school for the first time or returning to school after a long summer is enough to give any kid the jitters. Feelings of nervousness, excitement, fear, and joy are all completely normal and should be embraced! As an anxious child myself, the thought of the first day of school always brought along a confusing mix of emotions. Something my mom did to help was put together a to-do list of things I could accomplish to feel prepared and make the return seem a little less daunting. So even though going back to school this fall is going to look different than any year we’ve ever had, here is a list of things you and your kid can do to make this first day feel like any other.


1. Asses your school supplies.

Most schools provide a list of necessary materials to have on your first day. My mom always kept a small stock of pencils, pens, erasers, and lined paper on a shelf in a closet. Before buying new supplies it’s helpful to take a look at what you’ve already got! A brand-new set of markers was always my favorite thing to open up on the first day of school (and if they were scented, you knew you hit the jackpot).


2. Organize.

Once you’ve gathered together your supplies, it’s helpful to organize it. Before I was in high school and had a bag full of heavy books, I preferred using plastic boxes over fabric pencil pouches to keep my treasured school supplies safe. Not only did it transfer nicely from my backpack into my desk, the advantage of a plastic container was that if somehow your marker lost its cap, the cleanup was quick and easy!


3. Gather brain food.

Learning new skills is hard, so having the right snacks to fuel your brain is very important. Take a look inside your pantry/food cupboards to see what might make tasty snacks for throughout the day and take a trip to the grocery store to pick out something new if you don’t have any good options at home. Some of my favorite school snacks include sliced apples and almonds. And even today I keep my little work-from-home space stocked with Goldfish and jelly beans!


4. Pack your backpack.

Nothing says “back-to-school” more than a freshly packed backpack! Even if you are doing school from your kitchen table, having a bag full of everything you need to succeed hooked around the back of your seat will definitely enhance your classroom setting. And if your backpack isn’t new, be sure to clean out any scraps of paper and left-behind pretzels before re-packing it with your pencil box, freshly labeled subject folders, and snacks!


5. Create a daily schedule.

Another special thing my mom did for us each fall was type up and print out a copy of our schedules and laminate them with sticky laminating paper. This meant it couldn’t get torn or crushed at the bottom of my backpack as easily. When doing school from home, having a weekly schedule will help you stay focused on learning, while also leaving plenty of room for fun. Just as if you were in your actual classroom, choose a daily quiet reading block, recess, lunch and snack time, and art period to schedule between your arranged Zoom meetings. Be sure to pin the schedule up in a visible spot to help you stay on track.


6. Pick out the perfect back-to-school outfit.

This was always the best part of starting the new school year. Here’s your chance to show off how much you’ve grown up over the summer. Maybe it’s your first pair of glasses, a mouth full of braces, squeaky new sneakers, or a rockin’ haircut, just because your class may be over Zoom doesn’t mean you can’t make a stylish first impression! If you are attending preschool/school in person, make sure you have a fun selection of reusable face masks to mix and match with your outfits each day. And be sure to snap a special first day of school photo to add to your annual collection!


7. Read The Color Monster Goes to School by Anna Llenas!

It’s the Color Monster’s first day of school, and just like you, he’s feeling a little nervous. What even is school? What sorts of things will he do there? Will his teacher be nice? Will he make friends with his classmates? Led by a trusty buddy, the Color Monster sets off on a day of adventure and discovers that maybe things aren’t quite as scary as he thought they’d be—maybe school is actually a lot of fun!