Back to School Checklist

Back to School Checklist

Double check information from the school

Most schools will send home letters and newsletters to update parents on the essential things you need to know, so make sure you check the last few that your child brought home before the summer holidays and any that came through in the post since then. Most schools now also have websites and some even have social media pages that will provide news and information you need to know so make a point to check these too.

Key things to keep an eye out for:

  1. – School trips or events in the first few weeks back at school
  2. – Items the school advises you buy (and those that they will provide for your child)
  3. – School policies – particularly any that relate to school uniform or items they’re allowed to bring to school
  4. – What time and day your child should arrive for their first day
  5. – Paperwork that needs to be completed (such as emergency contact forms)
  6. – What your child will learn this year and any changes you should be aware of
  7. – Whether your child needs to enrol or register for the school year (this is usually applicable to children changing schools)

Clothing and essentials

Children are notoriously forgetful, messy and fussy, and not to mention they grow very rapidly whilst at school, and so it’s no wonder that parents often find that there’s at least one item that needs replacing each school year. If your child is moving schools, you may find that the uniform differs quite drastically from their last school so make sure you check with the school before buying anything new.

Key pieces to shop for:

  1. – Name labels or wash proof markers
  2. – School uniform; trousers and jumpers for winter and shorts/skirts for summer (easy iron options are ideal to save some time)
  3. – Coat
  4. – Socks and comfortable shoes (slip-proof options may help avoid accidents in the playground and Velcro may be quicker and easier than laces for your child to use)
  5. – Hat, scarf and gloves
  6. – Waterproofs; shoes and outer layer
  7. – PE kit with plimsolls, socks and a gym bag to keep it in
  8. – Swimming kit if your child’s school gives swimming lessons
  9. Rucksack
  10. Lunch box and drinks bottle
  11. – Book bag
  12. – A change of clothing if your child is very young

Top tip: Children can change their tastes very quickly, especially after meeting up with their friends. If possible, wait until a week or 2 after the kids have gone back to school to buy trainers or coats to help avoid an expensive change of heart after comparing with peers. Keeping receipts safe and organised is another way of preparing for a fashion change.

School Supplies

Schools will now often recommend certain products and stationery for your child in order to fit with the teaching methods they use, so keep an eye out for lists of suggestions. The items that your little one will require will depend on their age and school year so be aware of how their needs might change. For further information, check out our blog post on stationery for each key stage

Key supplies to stock up on:

  1. – Tissues
  2. Pens and pencils
  3. Notebooks
  4. – Small umbrella for their coat pocket
  5. Ruler
  6. Rubber
  7. Pencil sharpener
  8. Glue stick
  9. Pencil case
  10. – Hand wipes
  11. – Spare dinner money or bus fare
  12. – Spare hair band
  13. – Sun lotion if it’s sunny
  14. – Home address and any relevant contact numbers


Routines, priorities and plans can change quickly in our children’s lives and so it can be helpful to establish a procedure to deal with each of these with your child. As well as this, there are a few things that you’ll need to take care of too.

Key things to arrange beforehand:

– Make sure your child has had the relevant health checks and your school is up to date with any changes. Allergies are particularly important to mention, but other health changes such as needing to wear glasses are also important for your child’s school to be aware of.

– Find a place to note down any phone numbers and school procedures that you may need to know. What to do if your child is sick, or if they’re going to be late to school for any reason are particularly useful.

– Establish a school routine early. Bedtime, quiet time (to read or complete homework) and using an alarm clock and calendar are all useful to get right before the first day of school.

– Plan and buy practical and healthy solutions for breakfast, packed lunches and snacks so that you don’t end up struggling for ideas in the morning. If your child will be buying school dinners then look into the costs and options to make sure they’ll be prepared on their first day.

– Make sure your child knows how to travel to and from school safely and has an alternative route/means of travel in case anything happens. Sensible shoes, a bike helmet, spare bus fare and an emergency contact number are all practical things to consider.

– Finding opportunities to introduce your child to other classmates before school starts is a great way to help them feel positive about school and give them the best chance of making friends. If you haven’t found time before school starts then make time in the first few weeks.

– Discuss school and any anxieties with your child before their first day. Addressing any worries before they start will give you the opportunity to deal with issues before they cause problems such as a sudden tummy ache or tears and tantrums at the gate.

For further reading:

  1. How to Pack Stationery for School for each Key Stage
  2. A Primary School Teacher’s Account of the First Day of Primary School
  3. FAQs About the First Day of Primary School
  4. Helping Your Child Make Friends at Primary School
  5. How to Make a Balanced Packed Lunch
  6. How to Prepare for your Child’s First Day of Secondary School

How are you preparing for back to school? Leave us a comment below or join in with discussions on Facebook and Twitter

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