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Back to School Checklist for Teens

by Kathryn Walsh, studioD

Though you're tired of rousing your teenager from sleep at noon on a weekday, you might still dread the arrival of September just as much as she does. Sales on school supplies do nothing to make the typical high schooler excited for a new year, but regardless of her distaste for math homework, your teen needs to be prepared for the upcoming school year. Following a checklist makes this prep as painless as possible.

School Work

Arriving for the first day of school with unfinished homework is no way to start the year. Your teen should read through all the summer assignments she received from the school to make sure she completed every task, and checking with classmates to make sure she didn't miss anything is wise too. Your student should also be as prepared as possible for her new schedule. Make sure she has a copy of her class schedule and knows where each classroom is located, and if she has any uncertainty about what classes she'll be taking, arrange a meeting with her counselor before the first day. If your teen is heading to a new school, contact the main office to find out whether you can take a tour together so she'll know where she's headed. In addition to her classrooms, she should know where to find the counselor's office, nurse's office, cafeteria and gym.


What she'll wear to school might be the last issue on your list, but it's probably near the top of hers. Help your teen survey her wardrobe to make sure she has plenty of clothing that fits, is appropriate and satisfies her tastes. You'll save time and frustration in the morning if her dresser is stocked with clothes she'll wear happily. If you're in a cool climate, help her move summer clothes into storage and arrange fall and winter clothes in her drawers. If she wears a school uniform, ask her to try on all the pieces so you can see whether you need to purchase new items. She might also need a bag of clothes she can use for gym class, and she might require a new backpack before school starts too. Schedule a haircut for your teen, and buy an image-conscious boy new cologne or an image-conscious girl new makeup to help your child feel his or her best.


In years past, all she needed was fresh crayons and a glue stick to start a new year. Those days are gone. Your school district should provide a list of necessary school supplies, and your teen should help shop for them so she has approval over the type and color of binders she'll use. Make sure she chooses a planner to help her keep homework assignments and band practices organized. Buy her a reusable water bottle and a package of mints to keep in her bag, and stock up non-perishable snacks that she can grab on mornings when her primping time makes a hot breakfast impossible.


If she hasn't had a recent checkup, back-to-school season is the right time for your teen to see her doctor. This is a time for her doctor to talk to her about issues like smoking and sex, says the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website, so she can get valuable information for her to keep in mind as she returns to the world of peer pressure. A teen who's interested in playing sports or who struggles to manage anxiety can also benefit from a checkup at this time of year. You might also need to collect forms to turn into the school, so check your registration paperwork before taking her to her appointment. Make an appointment with her dentist before school starts too, since she might have a hard time working an appointment into her busy school-year schedule. If she needs to take medication during the school day, it's your job to coordinate with the school's nurse's office.


Now's the time for your teenager to figure out school-year logistics. Establish her school-night bedtime and talk about what time her morning alarm should go off. Help her figure out whether she'll be taking the bus to and from school or whether she can get a ride from a friend. If she'll drive to school, Healthy Children suggests that your teen be familiar with your driving rules. She should know whether she's allowed to have friends in her car, what her curfew is and what the punishment for disobeying these rules will be. She must also be clear about the fact that she is never to text while driving, and that using drugs or alcohol is unacceptable, but especially before driving.

About the Author

Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

Photo Credits

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