Are you or your children heading back to school soon? Are you wondering what to buy before school starts? Would you benefit from reading a ‘getting ready for back to school checklist?’ There are many things to buy before school starts, so it is easy to forget something essential as you rush to prepare uniforms, pack lunches, and organize school transportation.

Worry not! We’ve created a comprehensive shopping list and a back-to-school checklist to help ease your stress about the new school term. Last year was full of disruption, with many schools forced to close due to COVID-19. However, once we live in a post-pandemic world, a ‘getting ready for school checklist’ will be a valuable tool for all parents and students out there.

Back to School Shopping List 

What do you need for school? That’s the question we asked ourselves before we compiled this list.

We’ve made a back to school checklist for parents of elementary school students, as well as one for middle school kids. Below are some essential items to consider before school starts again.


  • No. 2 pencils
  • Erasers
  • Sharpeners
  • Zippered pencil bag
  • Spiral notebooks (wide-lined)
  • Dry erase markers
  • Washable markers
  • Crayons
  • Highlighters
  • Pocket folders
  • 12” ruler
  • Colored pencils
  • Indexed cards (ruled)
  • Glue sticks
  • Construction paper (assorted)
  • Blunt-tipped scissors
  • Ballpoint pens
  • Backpack
  • Lunchbox
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Box of tissues

Middle School

  • No. 2 pencils
  • Ballpoint pens
  • Pencil pouch
  • Erasers
  • Sharpeners
  • 12” ruler
  • Protractor
  • Scissors
  • Personal calendar
  • Pocket folders
  • 3-ring binder
  • 3-hole punch
  • Index cards
  • Subject dividers
  • White-out
  • Highlighters
  • Markers
  • Glue sticks
  • Graphing calculator
  • Wide ruled loose-leaf paper
  • Graph paper
  • Drawing paper
  • Watercolor paints
  • Spiral notebooks
  • Stapler
  • Locker accessories
  • Lunchbox
  • Backpack

You may not require all of these items, so take some time to decide what you need for your child’s school. When you’re shopping, it helps to cross things off these school checklists as you add them to your cart. This way, you won’t forget to buy an essential item, and you won’t double up on back-to-school supplies.

Other Essential Items to Purchase

Although some of these items were included on our previous school checklists, they may be essential for older pupils or university level students heading back to campus this year:

  • Sharpie pens
  • Highlighters
  • Erasers
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Pencils
  • Ballpoint pens
  • Pencil pouch
  • Glue stick
  • Notebooks
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Graph paper
  • Folders
  • Hole-punch
  • Protractor
  • White-out
  • Laptop
  • Printer
  • Ink cartridges
  • Laptop bag
  • Lunch bags
  • Post-It notes
  • Binder
  • Slick new sneakers
  • Gym bag
  • Gym socks

Back to School To-Do List

Now that we’ve answered the question ‘what do I need for back to school?’, we’re going to cover everything you need to do to prepare for the upcoming quarter. We recommend consulting this to-do list when preparing your children for the new term.

One Week Before School

  1. Prepare for the School Term Sleep Routine

Routines become relaxed over summer, Easter, and Christmas break, so your children need time to adjust before heading back to school. To help them prepare, you should:

  • Establish set bedtimes for the school year and make sure your kids follow them.
  • Make sure that the whole family is awake and up on time every day.
  • Give older children an alarm clock and encourage them to practice using it.
  1. Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

Nutrition is vital for keeping children healthy and helping them to focus and concentrate during school hours. So, we recommend:

  • Preparing meals at regular times every day.
  • Encourage your child to help you create a school lunch menu.
  • Ask your child to pick their favorite snacks.
  • Encourage your child to help you prepare and plan dinner meals. When your kids are involved in the planning, they will come home from school looking forward to their dinner.
  1. Turn Back to School Shopping into a Fun Task

  • Create a list of school supplies with your child.
  • Plan a fun shopping trip together to purchase all the school supplies.

A Few Days Before School

  1. Do a Dry Run

  • Head to the school by car, bus, or on foot.
  • Describe and draw out the route with younger children, explaining how long the school trip will take.
  • If possible, take younger children to the schoolyard to play a few times before their first day at school.
  1. Tour the School

  • If your child is new to the school, arrange a tour.
  • Show your child around the cafeteria, bathrooms, and classrooms.
  • Try to arrange a meeting with your child and their new teacher.
  1. Plan School Uniforms or Outfits

  • Let your child pick out their favorite outfit for the first day of school.
  • Alternatively, make sure that their uniforms are complete and sized correctly before the start of school.

First Day of School

There are a few things you can do to make the first day of school less daunting for your child, including:

  • If your child walks to school, arrange that they walk with a friend for the first couple of days. If they take the bus, try to find a bus buddy they can sit with on the first day.
  • Organize a couple of playdates with a school friend in the days leading up to the school term’s start.
  • Encourage bravery and praise and reward your child for good behavior.

We hope you found our back to school checklist insightful. Whether you’re homeschooling or sending your kids back to school, we can help you create school I.D. cards for your child. With no minimum orders and a free I.D card design service, we can create a world-class I.D and deliver it to your door in no time. Start designing your I.D card today!