Back-to-School Checklist

Back-to-School Checklist

Notebooks and pencils shouldn't be the only things on your child's back-to-school list. Make sure you have these basics covered, too.

By By Diane Griffith, Staff Writer, myOptumHealth

It's back-to-school time and your child has a long list of supplies to buy. Pencils, pens, notebooks, binders, a calculator - and of course - some new clothes. But did you know that the most important things on your child's checklist aren't available in a store? Before your child gets on the school bus, make sure you've taken care of these basics.

Physicals and immunizations
Some children will need a back-to-school physical, especially if they are new to a school. They may also need immunizations, so check with your doctor to see if they are due. Your child may also require a physical if he or she plans to participate in a sport.

Make sure you plan and review safety rules and the route to and from school with your children. Let your kids know who to call in an emergency if they can't reach you. If your child is too young to memorize phone numbers, make sure the information is written in an obvious place, like on school supplies or on a backpack.

Speaking of backpacks, here are a few safety tips for this essential supply:

  1. Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back. 
  2. Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight. 
  3. Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles. 
  4. If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, and they may be difficult to roll in snow.
For teens who can drive, parents should know when they are driving to school or school events, who is with them and when they are returning. Remind teens to wear their seatbelts and to never talk on cell phones or text while driving.

Your child's meds
Before school starts, talk to the school nurse if your child needs to take medicine during the school day. Give the nurse information in writing, including:
  • The reason for the medication
  • The dosage
  • When it should be taken
  • The name and number of the prescribing doctor
  • Emergency contact information
Don't forget about sleep
After a long summer of late nights and sleeping in, don't expect your kids to adjust right away to the early sounds of the alarm clock. Two weeks before school begins, start putting them to bed about 15 minutes earlier each night and waking them up 15 minutes earlier each morning. By the time the first day of school rolls around, their internal time clocks should be in sync with their school schedules.


  • Texas A&M University System. Preparing for a new school year. Accessed: 05/09/2012
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Back to school tips. Accessed: 05/09/2012