Elementary | Family Management | Kindergarten | Tweens + Teens

Ready, Set, Gluestick! 23 Best Back-to-School Tips from Readers

As back-to-school nears, our readers' tips help get you through

Remember when you wereschool bus stop sign a kid and a summer or a school year seemed like practically an eternity? I miss those days. On the flip side, back in the '70s, my family would drive from our house in Bellingham to my grandparents' house in Everett, a trip of one hour, and each time I thought I’d die a painful death of tortured, extended boredom.

These days, I feel like the pages of the calendar flip by like the Rolodex you used to spin on your mom or dad’s desk. Another summer of camps and swim lessons and carpools and play dates and family trips and sunscreen and beach days is nearing its end. I want to grab all those calendar pages and hold them tight.

Wishing or not, time stops for no mom. My nephews in Nashville started school weeks ago at the beginning of August. Luckily, we in the Northwest have a bit more time to steel ourselves for the back-to-school onslaught.

Are you ready? Neither are we. To help, we have compiled a list of super back-to-school tips from you, our readers, our village. Whether you’re laughing or crying, rolling your eyes or considering sniffing glue, back-to-school is almost here.

crayons glue school supplies

School supplies tips

  • Buy school supplies early or online (or end up like this mom).
  • Recycle! Look through last year’s supplies and see what you still have.
  • Have kids help as much as possible.
  • Keep the supply list in the car so you can take advantage of sales as they pop up.
  • "We hang backpacks open, with the supply last clipped to the outside, and cross things off as we fill the backpacks, almost like a scavenger hunt!"

Clothes shopping tips

  • Sort through kids’ closets and consign or donate outgrown clothes before buying new ones. Same with shoes.
  • Keep kids' new clothes and shoes packed away so they’re not worn out by the start of school.
  • "We don't back-to-school shop for clothes. We buy as the seasons change to we don't have to deal with the crowds."
  • Hit the Goodwill and Value Village for new kid wardrobes.

getting on school bus foggy morning

Routines and organization tips

  • Start the school-year bedtime and wake-up time routine well before school starts.
  • Have everything ready the night before – bags packed, lunches made, clothes laid out – to avoid morning craziness and stress!
  • Make and post checklists that everyone can see and be responsible for.
  •  "I put all the dates for the school year on my Google calendar as soon as the school sends them in the summer."
  • "The same day kids bring stuff home it either gets recycled, signed and returned to their school folder, or labeled/dated and placed in their magnetic 'inbox' on the side of the fridge. At the start of each month we go through the inbox to see if we really still need or are in love with all the art and schoolwork."
  • Display a family calendar for events, work schedules, tests, practices and lessons, so that everyone knows what is coming up.
  • Labeled boxes and bins for each kid!

school lunch

Lunch tips

  • Make ahead and freeze lunch stuff for at least the first week of school.
  • Plan some menus for lunches (with your child's "help") and have your child help make his own lunch for the next day.
  • Freeze yogurt tubes, grapes, or even chocolate milk so that when lunchtime rolls around, food is ready but still chilled.
  • Bento box-type lunch boxes with containers that fit together help kids keep their lunches organized.

Homework tips

  • Use stacking trays for homework, with labels such as “completed work” and “must finish.”
  • Create a study space where kids can do their homework.
  • For older kids, prepare a hanging file for each subject or class.

A veritable chorus of parents encouraged starting back-to-school prep early: “Do as much as you can as early as you can!” urged one. That probably means right this instant, or better, last week.

But one reader bucked the trend and offered this advice: “Leave it until the end. Enjoy the summer and the time you have with your kids. It's over all too fast.

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