1. Stock up on school supply essentials now. Nina Esposito-Visgitis, President of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, recommends buying basic supplies before the first day of school. Here are the priorities she lists: pencils (regular and colored), pens, magic markers, loose-leaf paper, spiral notebooks, pocket folders, binders, a hole punch, glue, and construction paper.
2. Read all summer long. “Children should be made to read something every day and see their parents read every day,” Esposito-Visgitis says.
3. Go clothes shopping now. “In mid-July, I start back-to-school shopping in pieces so the bills don’t become too staggering,” Esposito-Visgitis says.
4. Purchase a durable backpack. Cheaper backpacks are usually flimsy and rip easily, Esposito-Visgitis points out. “Make sure that they are sturdy, with straps in order to protect the student’s shoulders and backs, as backpacks can get heavy.”
5. Move back bedtime. Transition the kids to their school-year bedtime as early as late July, Esposito-Visgitis says, and no later than two weeks before the first day.
6. Organize the family calendar. Know what you're doing and when by organizing your after-school activities, drop-off, pick-up and child-care plans, Esposito-Visgitis says.
7. Mark your student’s flash drive. Buy a light-colored flash drive and write the student's initials on it with a marker, or put a sticker on it, Esposito-Visgitis says.
8. Review your district's technology guidelines. Before purchasing electronics for your student, including a cellphone or laptop, check your district's "technology use" policies, says Dru Tromlin, Director of Middle Level Services for the Association of Middle Level Education. “All school systems have 'technology use' policies to which you need to adhere,” Tromlin says. “Therefore, check for the system policy and then check with your school to see how the policy actually works there. Get informed and make the right choice.”
9. Help support your student’s organizational skills. “Planners and notebooks play a vital role in your child's daily middle school life,” Tromlin says. “Most schools either provide or sell student agendas or planners, and they are the single most important tool for school-to-home communication. Thus, when you get one for your child, talk to him/her about what you expect to be written every day, how often you will be checking it, and what reward they will earn if everything is filled in properly — and then follow through with that plan."
10. Find out what supplies teachers expect students to have for the year. Get lists from teachers (often online on your school district website) for specific school supplies, including “big ticket” items such as calculators, Tromlin advises. “Many parents ask about the kind of calculator they need to buy for their child,” he says. “My best advice: Save yourself time and money and ask the teacher.”