Don't panic: Navigate last-minute back-to-school rush like a pro

Lauren Corona

Preparing for your child to go back to school can be smooth and stress-free with some preparation.

All parents of school-age children have experienced back-to-school panic. Although you've had long summer weeks to sort everything out, you end up cramming shopping for supplies, summer homework, and general preparation into the last few days before school starts -- and if that happened to you this year, don't worry.

We've put together some tips to help you prepare for the new school year, regardless of when your planning started, plus we put together a handy shopping list of top-reviewed products to get you started.

Follow these tips for a stress-free return to school.

1. Make a list

You might start early, think you got everything done, and then end up in a panic scouring the shops for a calculator the day before school starts because you forgot to buy one. Being prepared only works if you remember everything you need to do, which is why a list is vital.

If your child's new teacher has put together a list of necessary school supplies, that's a great place to start, but there's more to preparing for school than supplies. Ask your child if there's anything they want to review during the summer break or if they have any work to do. Once you've compiled your list, check off each item when it's bought or completed.

2. Don't forget about clothes

The majority of American public schools don't have uniforms, but private schools and public schools in many other countries do. If you have a uniform to buy, don't leave it to the last minute or you might find popular sizes sold out. Even if your child doesn't have a school uniform, they may still need some new clothes for the coming school year, especially if they're growing quickly. Some schools have specific requirements for gym outfits as well.

3. Shop online

Gone are the days when you needed to drag yourself to the store to buy all your school supplies with complaining children in tow.

Purchasing school supplies online is far easier -- you can even order from your phone while waiting in line at the post office or watching TV. Some retailers offer one- or two-day delivery so you don't need to endure those last-minute crowds if you're down to the wire.

4. Make time for homework

You might have bought everything your kids need to go back to school, but there's nothing worse than discovering just a few days before the school years starts that they need to make a vacation diorama or write a report on Moby Dick.

Check and double check whether your child has any summer homework or reading and make sure they complete it early on.

5. Back-to-school shopping list

Depending on your child's school and what grade they'll be entering, you may need some additional items, but this list of basics is a decent place to start.

Backpack: After a year of daily use, your child will probably need a new backpack to go back to school with. Backpack trends are always changing, so consult your child as they may have some strong feelings about it and they are the one who will wear it everyday. The North Face Women's Jester Backpack has a variety of color options and is an appropriate size for a school-age child.

Pencil case: Choose a pencil case so your kid can keep up with their pens, pencils, and other small supplies throughout the day. We like this case from Homecube.

Lunch box: If your child will want to bring their own lunch to school, you can cut down on paper bags by getting them a durable lunch box. Insulated varieties, like the Fit & Fresh Insulated Lunch Bag, keep food cold until lunchtime.

Gym outfit: Gym shorts, t-shirts, sweatpants, tube socks -- find out whether your child's school has gym uniform requirements and choose accordingly. If your child is on any sports teams, plan to put some money aside for a uniform or a new pair of shoes.

Calculator: Depending on your child's grade, they might need a basic calculator, a graphing calculator (such as the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphics Calculator), or a scientific calculator (like the Sharp EL-501XBGR Scientific Calculator).


Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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