A Back to School Checklist: Make School Days Easier & Happier

back to school list
In our house, we're big fans of the almighty list. Oh, the wonderful list, it holds all the power of keeping our school day mornings(and lives) stress free. 

The first day of school, we're usually very organized in terms of the gear. Clothes, backpacks, and school supplies are ready to go the night before. However, I tend to forget about things like batteries for the camera, having a printout of the kids' schedules, and one year, I completely could not remember what time school started. Gah!


Lists can help with Day 1 for sure, but they really begin to come in handy as the school year progresses and our focus loosens up as we get busier and begin to forget the basics.

List-making about a week before school starts helps me organize all the "don't forgets" swirling around my mind.

And because I need all the help I can get, I make a special list for my school-goer too. It helps him learn to be a little more helpful and nurtures independence and important prioritizing skills. Depending on your child, he or she will have more or less things on the to-do list than we suggest.

We put the to-do lists in our kitchen -- the morning hub where all the coffee-slugging (mine), breakfast-making, and usually last-minute lunch-making goes on -- and we keep the packing list near the door so we can breeze through it on our way out.

Here are some template School Day Checklist ideas that your lists might include:

Parents' School Day To-Do Checklist:

  • (Before first day of school) Put together a school information list for each child, including school phone number, school start and end times, after-school program phone number, class schedule, teacher's name(s), bus pickup/dropoff times, bus transportation department number (in case bus is late or a no show): If you have two or more kids, you might need to keep this list all year.
  • (Before first day of school) Put together a family calendar of school events and holidays, extracurricular activity schedules, etc. and post it in a central location.
  • (First day of school) New or recharged batteries for your camera
  • Send classroom supplies, if applicable
  • Oversee child's lists

Kids' School Day To-Do Checklist:

  • Eat breakfast
  • Shower, if applicable (we always have our kids bathe the night before)
  • Get dressed, including shoes, and locate sweatshirt or jacket, if necessary (shoes and jackets always go missing around here in the morning)
  • Comb/brush hair
  • Wash face (I can't count how many mornings I stood at the bus stop, staring at the dried cereal milk around my son's mouth)
  • Brush teeth
  • Make lunch (we've had my son doing this since kindergarten; more great skills learned by doing this!)
  • Chores, if applicable

Kids' School Day Packing Checklist:

  • (First week of school) School schedule, including class schedule and teacher's name(s)
  • Sweatshirt/jacket, if necessary
  • School supplies
  • Homework
  • Books
  • Lunch and/or lunch money
  • Sports, music, or other extracurricular gear or equipment
  • Cell phone, if applicable
  • Medication, if applicable
  • House key, if applicable
  • Permission slip or other signed forms, if applicable

If there are specific must-have items like a calculator for Math class or the daily journal for English class that your child needs to remember every day, add those to the list.

Also, it's a good idea for both you and your child to do as much on the list the night before as you can (find those shoes!). That makes for a smoother, happier morning.

Lists are lifesavers. I learned this after a baseball season in which the uniform/gear list consisted of 10 items, one of which always seemed to be left at home until we made a list.

Do you use a checklist on school days? What's on yours that we didn't mention?


Image ©iStock.com/padnpen

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