Back-to-School To-Do List: Elementary School

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 18, 2023

Preparing for School

Even if your child has already been in some sort of program, even kindergarten, the start of a new school year is challenging. WebMD offers a to-do list to help make the transition much easier:

  • Call your child’s school or check the school’s web site to prepare for enrolling your child. You may need proof of residence or vaccination records, and may be asked for recent hearing and vision test results.
  • Schedule a visit with the doctor's office for a flu vaccine and other vaccinations that are required.
  • Fill out emergency contact information and names of people who can pick up your child. Also, notify the school about your child’s health needs, medications, or allergies. The school will require you to give permission to treat your child's medical condition. 
  • Call neighbors and friends about carpooling. Introduce your child to the other drivers and riders before school starts. That will help make your child more comfortable about riding in a carpool.
  • Arrange for after-school care. Make sure your child knows where to go each day, and how to get there.
  • Review the school’s policy on sick days, and figure out who will care for your child on sick days.
  • Prepare a plan for what to do if your child gets sick and has to stay home for a few days. Keep your child home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, and keep any siblings home, too.

Routines to Make Life Easier

  • Remind your child about pedestrian, biking, and bus safety. Guide them to use cross walks, safe paths, and to never walk behind buses. Ensure they have a group to walk with. 
  • Plan some appealing healthy snacks and lunches with your child that they can help pack. Plan to pack a water bottle. Teach your child how to choose healthy foods at school.
  • Establish rules for when homework gets done and where. Talk about your expectations for how school fits in with extracurricular activities. Also discuss age-appropriate chores for after school.
  • Set up a place in your home to put things that go to school (backpacks, papers, books, etc.). Take a few minutes before bed each night to put things there for the next morning.
  • As part of your child’s bedtime routine, plan a bit for the next day. Set out breakfast foods and clothes with your child.
  • Set a bed time and stick to it. Calming rituals -- bath, reading, and soft music -- will help. Your child will awaken fresh, with less fuss, if you set a regular schedule.
  • One simple rule can reduce chaos and distractions in the morning: No TV before school.

Chats to Have With Your Child

  • Find a quiet time to talk with your child about their feelings about starting school. (Find someone other than your child to talk with about your own anxieties.)
  • Help your child memorize your home address and the phone number you use most often.
  • Help keep your child healthy. Teach your child to cough and sneeze into a tissue or elbow or shoulder is a tissue isn't available. Also, talk about healthy hand washing and healthy sharing of toys and personal items.
  • Review with your child guidelines about talking with strangers and getting into other people’s cars.
  • Talk with your child about being kind to others, making friends, and how to handle bullying and teasing.

Things to Buy for Your Child

  • Pick up basic school supplies, such as pencils, paper, art supplies, a backpack, and lunch box.
  • Choose mix-and-match school clothes. Be sure you have gym clothes if needed, and jacket or coat.