Back To School Checklist

Many American children are starting back to school soon, and no matter how young or old they may be: There is always a long list of items that must be purchased in preparation. This list is an overview of the basic stuff most kids need - whether they're starting kindergarten or college.

1. Backpacks and bags: Attending school usually involves keeping track of books, papers, pens and more. So carrying bags are a must. Younger children prefer backpacks, and many cute ones are available just about anywhere these days.

If your children are a bit older - particularly in junior high or high school - be sure to get rugged, durable backpacks that will last. These older kids carry very heavy loads sometimes, and it helps to spend a little extra money for backpacks right at the beginning of the year. I've found that hiking backpacks work best for high school students, because they have large carrying capacities and they're quite strong and durable. Buying these types of backpacks will ensure they last through the entire school season, instead of having to be replaced halfway through the year.

College bound students might prefer laptop and gadget bags, sling bags, messenger or duffle bags instead.

2. Paper Supplies: This includes notebook paper, spiral notebooks, pocket folders and binders among other things. Most kids need all of these from the time they start first or second grade, though the needs get heavier as the children get older. Younger children might need art paper and older children might need graph paper, so the needs vary slightly but the basics tend to stay the same.

High School honor students and college bound students will also need special books, and these usually need to be purchased. Book covers are also useful for all grades.

3. Writing Tools: Pens and pencils are generally thought of automatically, but often there are other writing related materials that must be purchased for school as well. Younger children often need crayons and paint for instance, while older kids may need markers and colored pencils.

As children move into junior high, high school and college, they'll require a larger variety of the basics too. Instead of just blue pens for instance, they often need blue, black and red. It's good to know the teachers at this point by the way: Some do not allow gel pens to be used for instance, while others may forbid red pens or yellow markers.

4. Misc. Tools: These change from one grade to another, but generally additional tools of some kind are needed for just about any age range. Examples of school tools needed includes rulers, protractors, and calculators.

5. Clothing: This is usually a given, but a checklist always helps. Be sure to buy pants, shirts, socks, and underclothing. Don't forget to get new shoes... some kids need more than one pair because specialized shoes are needed for gym or athletic programs. Also be sure to buy athletic or gym cloths if they're required. These could include shorts, t-shirts, or sweat suits.

Sweaters and lightweight jackets are usually needed for the cool early mornings, and heavier coats will be needed within a few months of school starting.

Most schools have dress codes these days too, so it's a good idea to get a copy of that for reference before you go clothes shopping. You wouldn't want your daughter to have a whole new wardrobe of tank tops only to find out they're not allowed to be worn at school for instance.

Author: Kathy Burns-Millyard -

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