Changing schedules. Supply lists. Forms to fill out. New teachers to meet. Heading back to school can be exciting, yet stressful.

We’re here to help you get organized and reduce your feelings of stress. Use our back-to-school checklist to make sure you and your child start the year off right.

1. Get back into a routine.

  • About 2 weeks before school starts, gradually (for example, 15 minutes each day) move your child’s bedtime and wake up time back to what they will be during the school year. Get more sleep recommendations here.
  • Sit down and create a schedule for school days together. Talk through expectations for mornings and after school. Once you agree on that, you can start implementing a few weeks before school starts to get into the habit.

2. Visit your doctor.

  • Make sure your vaccine records and sports physicals are up to date! Routine check-ups are important.

3. Review your child’s expected schedule and new routine for school.

  • It’s a good idea to sit down and have a conversation about any changes that will be happening this school year.
  • If your child is meeting the bus in a new location, visit the bus stop with them a few times before the first day of school.
  • For children starting middle or high school, visiting the school and practicing how to walk from one class to another may be helpful

4. Get organized.

  • Have a place designated for your child to work on homework, keep school materials, etc.
  • Print out the school calendar and notice how it may be related to your child’s mood and emotional changes. For instance, you may notice that your child has increased anxiety at the end of a semester. If your child is anxious, see these tips to help them with their anxiety.

5. Talk about expectations – yours and your child’s.

  • Ask your child what their goals are for the school year. Help them create a plan and strategies for how to achieve those goals.
  • Discuss your child’s concerns and excitement about the upcoming school year. Unsure where to start? We have some conversation starters for you.
  • Come up with a plan with your child of when and how to ask for help when they need it. This can be school staff or peers, depending on the child’s concern.
  • Remind them of your rules and expectations. For example, is your rule that homework be done before screen time?

6. Connect with the school.

  • Feeling connected to their school is shown to be positive for children’s mental health (CDC, 2022). You can support school connectedness by showing interest in their teachers and school activities.
  • Meet their teachers at the start of the school year and talk about your child’s goals, strengths, and areas of growth.
  • Take note of school events for families and add them to your calendar. Showing up to events increases children’s feelings of support and connection to their school.
  • Encourage your child to get involved in activities outside of schoolwork. Look at the school website together to see what clubs and sports are offered or meet with the school counselor!

Get the rest of our Back-to-School Mental Health Checklist by filling out the form below. We'll send you a downloadable version of the whole list that you can share with your family and friends.