The back-to-school routine is a learning experience

It’s time for families to plan for school again. This is an exciting time for students of all ages as they look forward to new classes, activities, and friends. It’s also a good time to teach planned shopping, economics, and routine.

Helping Prepare

You can include young children in your shopping plans for school supplies and new clothing. Most families with elementary aged children will have a supply list from the school. Preschoolers may not have a supply list, but will enjoy buying something new like a t-shirt for the first day, a special folder for notes and papers, new chunky pencil, and crayons. Most students will need a backpack. Preschools often request a washable pillow or mat for napping and a change of clothes.

You can make this a good learning experience by reading the supply list together and writing down what is needed. Since most stores only discount supplies now, families may want to buy a few extra pencils, folders, and spiral notebooks to replace worn-out items needed in a few months.

Keep a few extra supplies around the house for older children like colored pencils, crayons, markers, ruler, and paper. Families will avoid making a late-night emergency store stop.

Positive New Year

Read local or online ads and coupons with children. Teach them the importance of printed information, costs, budgets and price comparisons. Help children add up costs to determine the total. Add on and explain state sales tax.

This interesting practical activity helps build positive attitudes about starting a new school year and reviews math and reading. At the store, involve children in decision making as much as possible.

Some families may be unable to purchase suggested supplies. Communities and religious groups will help. New supplies help children feel this is a new beginning, and “I’m going to do my very best.”

At home, children need a special quiet spot with good lighting for writing, drawing, looking at/ reading books and working. This can be a little desk, small table, or the dining room table near to family supervision. Help your child organize this space with some home supplies in a storage box and no distractions.

You can mark supplies, backpacks, and jackets and other clothes with first and last names to have lost items returned.

Have a place in your house, either on a wall or on the refrigerator to display pictures, notices and good papers from school. Go over homework papers and clean out the backpack every night. That’s how families know what is happening in school.

It’s a good time to return to family conferences, an early bedtime, bath, nightly reading to relax, nutritious snacks, and video and other technology rules.

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Grandparents Teach, Too is written by a group of teachers and former teachers who contribute ideas and resources to help educate children and grandchildren. For more GTT articles and resources, visit them online at