The Best Back-To-School Checklist for Parents

Before you can soak up your fill of the sun and sand, it seems like “school’s out for summer” has already segued to “back-to-school shopping” time.

As a child’s earliest and most enthusiastic learning coaches, parents can prepare kids by seeing back to school as another opportunity to prime them for success and underscore your values – and your love.

Take these important steps:

1. The doctor is in

Take advantage of the slower pace of summer to schedule dentist and doctor visits, including family doctors, optometrists, orthodontists, allergists and oral surgeons. Keep immunizations current, and scan records for your files.  

2. Schedule success every day

Plan your overall school calendar, including breaks. Map out your daily calendar, including class time, meals, study time, practice time, chores, family time and downtime, to keep you on track.

3. Go for the goal

Help your children set goals, including what they want to learn by the end of the school grade, which hobbies they hope to try, what grades they hope to land, how many books they want to read and which awards they want to win.

4. Room to grow

Set up a dedicated space where your child can work, whether it’s in his or her room or elsewhere in the house. Especially if it’s in your child’s bedroom, watch out for distractions.

5. Get involved

Get to know your child’s teachers and, if possible, volunteer at school events to help you connect with other parents and the community. Studies show that the children who do best in school have parents who are actively involved.

Notify your child’s teachers about changes, such as illness, divorce, the death of a family member, a recent move or a parent’s new job, that might affect your child's school performance.  

6. Shop smart

Studies show that most families spend about $630 on back-to-school clothes and supplies each year. Make sure you survey the sales and maximize frequent-buyer discounts.

7. Don’t forget the fun

Scheduling, science fairs and Shakespeare are instructive, but researchers have found that time on the playground is important as well. Playing helps connect neurons at the front of the brain, which is command central for regulating emotions, making plans and solving problems. Even a half-hour of unstructured play builds social brains that help children interact with others.

So as you’re checking off the items on your back-to-school list, don’t forget to leave time to allow your child to drink in those last few precious days of summer.

Amy Boyd, Director of Family Services and Federal Programs, joined CCA in 2007 and currently serves as the director of family services and federal programs. She has 19 years of experience in public education, and six years of experience in education leadership. Her career in education began as an elementary school teacher in Carlisle Area School District. She also served as a regional coordinator for federal programs at the Pennsylvania Department of Education before joining CCA. Mrs. Boyd received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Wilson College in Chambersburg, master’s degree in education administration and school principal certification from the University of Scranton. Mrs. Boyd currently is finishing a doctoral program at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she will receive her terminal degree in education administration and policy studies. Her doctoral dissertation work and research interests focus on parent involvement and student achievement in a K-12 cyber school.In her spare time, Mrs. Boyd enjoys spending time with her family, hiking and enjoying outdoor life on her family farm.