Back to school tips for parents with first time students

Get ready for the back-to-school rush, starting with the basics

With the end of summer approaching too fast for comfort, it’s time for the kids to pack away the bathing suits and pull out the books.

After all the summer fun, though, it can be hard to remember what your kid actually needs for that all-important first day of school. Here’s a checklist for the basics that will ease the difficult transition from endless summer to a too-early wake-up.

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School Supplies: Make sure to go the store(s) early, or there might not be a lot of choices left right before school opens. Before that, even, check around the house to see what might be leftover from last school year, such as notebook paper or pens and pencils.

It’s important to start off the school year as organized as possible, so find out what works best for your student. A folder or binder for every class? A day-by-day agenda? Check and see if the school offers a list of necessary materials or will provide any of the basics to students on the first day.

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It can also be a good idea to send your kid off with the basics, then see what they need after the first week of classes, when it will be more clear what’s necessary and what’s supplemental.

Here are the basics: pens and pencils, notebook paper, graph paper, backpack and a lunchbox or bag. Older students may need a calculator, and make sure they have the batteries as well.

Getting ready for the first day: Beyond school supplies, being prepared for the first day offers other challenges. Some schools take yearbook photos on the first day, so make sure your child’s picked out a great outfit if they’re not in a uniform. Wearing something they love can improve confidence as well.

Make sure you’re ready for that early wake-up if your kid’s been accustomed to sleeping in all summer. It’s tempting to snooze that alarm one too many times, or to pull up the covers again after a parent says it’s time to get up. Pair an early morning with a great breakfast as well.

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If bedtime in the summer has been more lenient, it can be a good idea to shift that gradually so that an earlier bedtime makes an earlier wake-up feel natural.

Summer reading: If your child had any summer reading assignments, use the time that’s left to make sure they both read and understood the material. Some classes will tackle that reading the first day, especially for older students, and kids can get left behind if they’re unprepared.

Lunchtime: Figure out what works best for your kid and your budget: should they bring a lunch every day, or does the cafeteria have healthy, cheap options? It can be hard for younger kids (or kids of any age) to pick what’s nutritious over what tastes the best, so be sure they’re eating a balanced meal even when they’re not at home.

Send your child off with a water bottle as well and remind them to hydrate throughout the day.

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Pick-up: Make sure your child knows the plan for getting home safely from school. Whether it’s the school bus, you picking them up, a friend picking them up, or another option, it’s important for younger children especially to know exactly how they’re getting home.

Try to set aside time after that first school day, and periodically after that, to see how your child is adjusting to the new school year. The transition from summer can be hard, especially if your child is going into a new school or changing from elementary to middle school or so on. 

Beyond the basics, what’s most important is your child knowing they have the support at home to do their best in school despite any challenges that pop up. Encourage them to talk through issues with you and make plans for the future.

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