The back-to-school checklist

There’s a lot more to getting your kid ready for the return to school than just scribblers and pencils

By Katie Ingram

School supplies are only the first step for a student having a successful year.
There are other things parents need to talk about with their children, plans that need to be made, and, of course, clothes that need to be bought.

Read on for a few items to add to your standard back-to-school checklist:

More Than School Supplies

Along with crayons, erasers, and pencils, kids will need a few new outfits for the year. While parents may want to buy as many new clothes as possible, this isn’t always what a child needs or is necessary.

If a child has four pairs of jeans, still in good shape from the previous year, they might not need to be replaced. This all depends on the situation, and whether parents are on a spending budget.

Still, there are few other factors to consider when buying school clothes:

Along with such items as T-shirts and jeans, parents can consider buying a dressier outfit for picture day and holiday concerts. This could be a polo shirt and chinos, or something a bit fancier like a dress shirt and pants or a dress.

Kids run and play. Clothes get dirty, torn, and stained. If items, such as socks, can be bought in bulk, parents should take advantage of this. While everyone should have at least seven pairs of socks for a week, children should have double that amount.

If a child needs a new pair of shoes, parents shouldn’t just pick up the first pair they see or the ones that look flashiest. They need to make sure they’re practical first. If shoes have laces, parents should ensure children can tie them or opt for ones with Velcro. Additionally, children grow quickly, so buying cheaper shoes should be considered for younger children, as well as having both an indoor and outdoor pair.

Clothing shouldn’t be too complicated, as teachers may not have time to help each student button up a sweater or jacket to go outside for a 10- to 15-minute recess. Students should be able to zip, tie, and button up their own clothes.

A backpack is a must, but like shoes it must be practical above all else. While children don’t need a popular cartoon character adorning their bag or a brand name, they do something sturdy, easy to carry, and easily opened.

Food and drinks can get messy, so having a separate lunch bag can help make sure backpacks and other supplies last longer.

Practice Makes Perfect

No matter if a child is starting Grade Primary or they’re in one of the upper grades, they are starting a new routine each year. Sometimes this can be waking up at an earlier time or adjusting to new start times as they transition schools. No matter, parents should start early bedtimes sooner than the night before the first day and go over the morning and afternoon schedules well in advance.

If a child walks to school, both parents and children should occasionally walk with them to familiarize themselves with the route and find out how long it takes to get to school. Parents should also remind children not to veer from this path, even if they find a quicker way. Any changes to a walking route should be talked about by both parties.

Not all lunch containers are created equal or are easy to open; parents should make sure children can open whatever is in their lunch bags.

Check and Double-Check Information

Check bus information by contacting the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, either by phone or its website.
Make sure you have a plan for school cancellations or early dismissals.

Notes, emails, agendas, newsletters: teachers have a variety of ways to communicate with parents. Find out how your child’s teacher does this, so you don’t miss important information.

If your school has a cafeteria, check the school website or watch for information coming home early in the year to learn how the cafeteria takes payments and how to order.

For younger students, label items, including jackets, hats, shoes, and lunch bags as they can look like another student’s. This can help avoid arguments and help make sure items go home with the child who brought them.

Not all children, especially younger ones, have cell phones. Even if they do, the battery can die, or they can break. Parents should make sure their children have their emergency contacts and numbers in their backpack.
Both parents and children should be familiar with scent and food policies in both the classroom and school.

Medical and Personal Hygiene

For younger children, parents should make sure they know proper hand washing techniques.

Remind children they shouldn’t share utensils and food to limit the spread of germs and illness.

Public Health officials recommend children aged four to six have their booster shots of Tdap-IPV (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio) and MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Vricella) before starting grade primary. Cara-Leah Hmida, Public Health’s’ manager of health protection for the Central Zone, says if children haven’t received their boosters yet, parents can contact their family doctor or Public Health, if they don’t have a doctor.

Throughout the day, kids interact with a lot of other people, so sometimes the flu or a cold is unavoidable. Parents should send a small package of tissues with them, so they don’t sneeze on another student or wipe their nose on their sleeve when they start experiencing symptoms.

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