How to Get Your Kids Ready for Back to School in Five Steps

A little planning and preparation allow you to head back into school completely organized while still enjoying every last moment of summer. The key to eliminating stress when back to school comes around is breaking it into a few small tasks and getting started early.

Five steps to an organized back to school experience

One: Make a school supply list for each student & shop early for key items

Make a list for each child heading to school this fall. Each one will need different things depending on age and grade. Here is a sample list of what I had for my 10-year-old going into 5th grade:

Paige - age 10, grade 5

  • Backpack (large sized)
  • Reusable Lunch bag
  • Pencil Case
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • 3 Notebooks
  • Binder
  • Ruler

I keep the list basic to start. These are the items I know are needed. Once she starts school and gets a complete list from her teachers, we can fill in with the final few supplies. It makes it a lot less overwhelming to get these essential pieces up front and helps Paige feel prepared to go to school.

July or early August are the ideal times to begin shopping as most stores will be fully stocked with materials. Purchasing backpacks, lunch bags and pencil cases early ensures you won’t run into backordered or out of stock products. 

Drawer open with back to school supplies, Girl in laundry room holding back pack getting ready for school, By Salt by SabrinaTwo: Leverage sales when shopping for clothing, shoes, and supplies

Make sure to take advantage of back to school, labor day and end of summer sales. I recommend buying clothing a ½ size larger than what fits to accommodate shrinking in the wash and also allowing for growth during the year. If you buy exactly what fits now, most likely those items will be outgrown very quickly.

I look for a few key basics like a great pair of jeans, sneakers, and a warm jacket to start. Here is another place a list makes a huge difference. If you walk into a store or add things to your cart online without a plan, chances are you will spend more than you want, and end up with more clothes than you need. Having basics in neutral colors to mix and match means you only need a bit of seasonal clothing to create a lot of options.

Take note of what your kids actually wear. Don’t waste time and resources on clothing that will stay in the closet unworn. My 12-year old hates jeans and sweaters and only wants to wear basketball shorts or sweats. I buy him one pair of jeans at a time because I know he won’t wear them most of the time. I choose nicer leisure options so he can be comfortable and look put together at the same time and we both are happy!

Pro Tip: This is a great time to clean out kids' closets. Donate or pass down anything that doesn’t fit. This makes room for the new clothes and helps the closet feel tidy and ready for that first day of school.


Buy a quality backpack. Of all the items that will get most used throughout the year, this is it. If you get a sturdy one, it will last and withstand a few washes to keep it clean and functional all year long.

Pro tip: Don’t buy their whole wardrobe before school. Let them attend school for a few weeks and see the latest trends so they can add a few fun things into the mix!


Mom in craft room packing back packs for kids back to school, By Salt by Sabrina

Three: Stock backpacks, lockers, & drawers

I have four children, one in elementary, one in middle school, one in high school and one heading to college. We have all phases of life going on at our home so we have to be stocked and ready. I like to lay out all the materials after we have everything purchased and get each child ready for their first day. My kids loved to be involved throughout the process in picking their favorite things and then assembling everything together. We start with the backpack, then move to their lockers, making sure to check each item off our original list. I typically do this very early in August so we don’t feel rushed and can focus on fun family activities in the last few weeks heading into school.

Pro Tip: Whatever supplies you purchase for school, make sure to have enough for backpacks, to stock the study drawer in your home and a small backstock. Having a little extra on hand makes homework time so much smoother knowing you can re-stock quickly whenever the need arises.


Teenage girl sitting at desk studying with school supply drawers open, By Salt by Sabrina

Four: Set up a dedicated study space

Having a quiet study space is a must. Nine months is a long time to be in school and summer always seems to fly by in a flash. Homework can be difficult and frustrating. This is where a clean, organized, and peaceful space will be transformative. Set your children up for success with a space that is study ready.

Study spaces can be anywhere! Look for a space that is close to the main area so a parent can easily step in and help with homework but that also has a door or the ability to shut out sound and distractions when needed. My kids love to study at the kitchen counter, in their rooms, or in my office when they need quiet.

Pro Tip: A clean organized environment changes the way we feel.

Creating that type of study space will give your student best chance to focus and learn.


3 pictures, A drawer open with school supplies inside, mother packing children's backpacks, a box on a shelf with school supplies in it, By Salt by Sabrina



Son and mother looking at computer at desk in office, cupboards open showing basket organization, By Salt By Sabrina


Five: Set goals & expectations for the upcoming school year

It’s important to have clear expectations with your children about the upcoming school year. This is a great time to get their input, have them set goals, review schedules and help them understand how the family is going to be organized for success. We sit down as a family a few weeks before school and go over everyone’s schedule, set a time for nightly dinners (we have a regular time and whoever is home attends), set bedtimes, and talk about how all of us can pitch in to make things work when everything is in full swing. It’s the perfect time to connect and get organized!


Children sitting around kitchen bar talking and playing games, by Salt by Sabrina

Good luck with your back to school lists and tasks. I hope a few of my tips shared here will help transform the chaos of starting school into peaceful tranquility. Enjoy the beautiful summer!


Signature, by Salt by Sabrina