Your Essential Back To School Checklist

Getting kids ready for back to school is an exciting time of year! The new academic year, with new experiences, new friends, and new learning is fast approaching.

To help with back to school organisation we’ve compiled our essential back to school list so you can be prepared but can also keep enjoying the rest of summer!

Your back to school checklist

Whether you’re a first-time school parent or ‘been there, done that’, you can guarantee that there will be something you forget when getting the kids ready for the new school year. Tick off our checklist for the ultimate preparation.

  • School bag – Think about what your child will need to carry in the bag each day and choose one that’s comfortable to wear.

  • Lunch box – Lunch boxes come in many different styles so shop around for one that matches your child’s appetite and preferences. Don’t forget to include a small slicker pad to keep everything cool.

  • Drink bottle – Always ensure you have a backup drink bottle as these are easily the most lost school item! We love double-walled stainless steel drink bottle that keep drinks cooler for longer and are incredibly durable.

  • Exercise books – Check with your child’s school for a list of exercise books that your child needs.

  • Stationery – Pens, pencils, ruler, eraser, glue stick, pencil sharpener, highlighters, whiteboard pens, coloured pencils, protactor, compass – got them all? Make sure your child has a pencil case that’s big enough for all they need.

  • School uniform – Now is the time to check if your child still fits into their school uniform from last year (ie, not the morning of the first day of school!).

  • School shoes – Your child’s school shoes are going to get a mega workout! If the school has a uniform, they are often very particular about the shoes that kids should wear so check the requirements carefully. Don’t be tempted to buy a size larger than your child needs in order to allow some room to grow into them. It’s important for your child’s comfort and development that they have correctly fitting shoes.

  • Sports/PE uniform – Time to rummage through last year’s PE bag that probably hasn’t left the bedroom floor or cupboard! Line-drying washing will help to freshen it up.

  • Sports shoes – This is the one I always forget! Those trainers the kids have been thrashing all summer holidays probably aren’t going to be up to a term of sport too so check if you need to grab some new ones.

  • Socks – If you’re not bound to uniform socks, consider purchasing ones with arch support and cushioned soles for added comfort. Don’t forget those sports socks too!

  • BYOD – If your child needs to bring their own digital device, check with the school before you purchase to ensure you are buying something with the minimum specifications needed. Laptops are great but the most expensive. Chromebooks have smaller storage but cost less than a full laptop. Tablets are usually the cheapest option but often are insufficient for high school classes.

  • Essential tech – Our modern, connected classrooms often require more than just a BYOD. Your child may require headphones, a calculator, mouse, etc. Check with your school for what is required for your child’s selected subjects. USB flash drives are handy for sharing projects.

  • Bus/train pass – Check with other school parents for the best way to purchase passes (ie term passes or loading a card). Check if there’s credit on your child’s transport pass and read the terms for the pass to ensure that it is still valid, especially for high school students who may no longer automatically qualify for a child’s rate.

  • Sunscreen and sunhat – Many schools will have a ‘no hat, no play’ policy. Check with the school if they have a school hat first. Pop a small sunscreen tube or roll-on into your child’s bag during summer so they can top-up when needed.

  • Name clothing and shoes – Actually, just name everything … EVERYTHING! If writing on a name isn’t suitable for an item, label makers are a parent’s best friend!

  • Lunch recipes – Get a head start on filling those lunch boxes by grabbing some lunch box inspiration and recipes (from the Kidspot Kitchen, of course) and consider doing some bulk baking and freezing prior to school starting.

  • Face mask – If your child’s school requires a face mask to be worn (or you prefer your child to wear one), it pays to take a couple to last throughout the day and a small bag to bring home the used ones.

Are you organised for getting the kids back to school?

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her world julieWritten by Julie Scanlon

Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire. 

Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”


  1. SarahBlair 08/03/2020 at 4:34 pm

    Good list, going back to school is always stressful for everyone, parents and kids, and to be able to have a check list makes it that much easier!

  2. Alezandra 07/03/2020 at 9:29 pm

    Good checklist. I did get a checklist from the school itself, and I’ve heard that beginning of the year is the time to stock up on stationery for the whole year. I do wonder if the school list changes for each term or would it be constant. It’s hard to hoard as well if suddenly we won’t be able to use them. Oh…and Warehouse has an app now? I usually order via their website if I need things from the Warehouse. Good to know.

  3. Jen_Wiig 27/02/2020 at 1:52 pm

    Yes I have to be and I usually start prepping around Xmas while doing Xmas shopping… Reason being is its literally.. Xmas, school holidays, back to school, birthdays x2 all one after another with maybe a week max gap in between… I often double up back to school stuff with bday prezzy so I’ll buy a decent bag and fill it with things they want for bday and then a few need items like cool drink bottle, pencil case with bus pass, top up credit, stickers for decorating their school gear etc.

  4. MuddledUpMolly 26/02/2020 at 10:20 pm

    Great checklist and enough to cover most of what our son needed for school. Thankfully he doesn’t have to bring his own device yet but I imagine when the time comes, it will be a slightly hefty bill and a purchase that requires a great deal of research!

  5. Micht 25/02/2020 at 9:53 pm

    I was organized for her school return… ordered stationery, got everything done…or so i thought..until day 1 of school and a pair of shoes i bought just a few months from then… they didnt fit…which means she had a growth spurt when i wasnt looking

  6. Shorrty4life1 25/02/2020 at 11:28 am

    So much stuff these days to purchase for school. We were lucky as the school my children go to they decided to give all children their stationary free of charge this year so that definitely helped take the stress off. And uniform is only a donation at the office for second hand which all helps so more or less it was just new shoes that costed the most this year for schooling.

  7. Bevik1971 19/02/2020 at 10:33 am

    This is a great checklist! We purchase our stationery through the school as they have a deal with one of the stationery companies, so I order prior to Christmas and pick it up first day back at school! Cheaper and easier, although this will change as she gets older. She already had everything else organised from last year as had a newish lunch box etc anyway

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