1. At-Home Paper Organizer: If your child is notoriously forgetful when it comes to giving you important documents from the classroom, perhaps it's time for a new strategy. Select a standing file organizer (found at office supply stores) in which he can put school papers right after arriving home. Pick a drop-off spot in a visible, easy-to-reach area, like a kitchen counter or an entry-room table.
2. Backpack: Toting books and the other supplies is a Monday-through-Friday exercise, so a sturdy bag is an important investment. Both messenger bags and backpacks are good hands-free choices, but backpacks distribute the weight more evenly (when worn on both shoulders, that is). To select one that's safe and comfortable, keep these tips from the American Physical Therapy Association in mind:
- Look for a pack with a padded back to reduce pressure on the back, shoulders, and underarm regions.
- Opt for a bag with multiple compartments. They'll hold items securely while better distributing weight.
- Choose a backpack with reflective material so your child is more visible to drivers after dark.
3. Calendar: Homework assignments, sports practices, music lessons, and social events — whew! Students always have plenty of dates to track, so some sort of calendar is essential. Carry-along planners are usually the most popular choices, as they fit neatly into a backpack for easy access at school and at home. For students who like to see the big picture, or for younger kids not ready for a planner, a wall calendar at home is a great visual reminder of what's happening on a weekly or monthly basis.
4. Downtime Treats: Your scholar faces the transition from having all day to play in the sun to a full day of school followed by homework, so as long as she's completing all her new assignments, treat her to something she can enjoy during downtime. Good picks include anything I SPY (the book or the game), a Captain Underpants collection, or something crafty.
5. Labels: Do not underestimate the importance of putting your child's full name on everything! Sew personalized name labels into clothing, use a Sharpie marker on the inside of a backpack (or try our printable label), or smack a peel-and-stick label on a lunchbox. Whatever your choice, it will certainly lessen confusion if your child shares a name with a classmate or has a backpack similar to another child's.
6. Lucky Charm: Sometimes a reminder of home can be incredibly helpful in transitioning a first-timer to the classroom environment. When you go school shopping together, pick out a little mascot that fits in a backpack, locker, or desk. That way, he can look at it and think of you!
7. Study Materials: One way to make sure your child gets back into the swing of things is practice, practice, practice. If there was a particular subject she struggled with last year, pick out a book with five-minute activities that help build skills.
8. Reference Books: Stock up on new editions of a dictionary and a thesaurus to ensure your child is up to speed on all things vocabulary.
9. Water Bottle: Since summer technically isn't over when school begins, thwart the possibility of dehydration by equipping your child with a water bottle. Check school and classroom rules first; she may have to keep her drink in a locker or backpack.