Originally created 07/31/00

Back-to-school -- a checklist for parents



As your child ventures off for his or her first day of school, there are a few things that you want to be certain of. Following is a list of ideas from the National Association for the Education of Young Children for you to go over with you child.

  • Check with the school to be sure all registration requirements have been taken care of.
  • Be sure that your child's vaccinations are up to date.
  • Get a supply list from the school to help guide your back-to-school shopping.
  • Be sure that your child knows his or her home phone number and address, your work number, the number of another trusted adult and how to call 911 for emergencies.
  • Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and, if possible, with intersections that have crossing guards. Walk the route with your child beforehand. Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields, and other places where there aren't many people around.
  • Teach children -- whether walking, biking or riding the bus to school -- to obey all traffic signals, signs, traffic officers, and safety patrols. Remind them to be extra careful in bad weather.
  • Be sure they walk to and from school with a friend, a neighbor, a brother or a sister.
  • When car pooling, deliver and pick up children as close to school as possible. Don't leave until they are in the schoolyard or building.
  • Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers. Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children don't know well or don't trust.
  • If your child is home alone for a few hours after school:

  • Set up rules for locking doors and windows, answering the door and telephone and activities allowed.
  • Make sure they check in with you or a neighbor immediately after school.
  • Agree on rules for having friends over and for going to a friend's house when no adult is home.
  • Take time to listen carefully to your children's fears and feelings about people or places that scare them or make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts. Take complaints about bullies and other concerns seriously.
  • If your need to get information from your child's school, here's where to start:

  • Call the school secretary for general school information, a calendar of important dates, lunches, absences and tardies.
  • You should talk to the school guidance counselor about graduation, college, college entrance exams and problems your child may have.
  • Your child's teacher can tell you how your child is doing, what they are leaning, how you can help and about their homework.
  • Talk to the schools principal about policy and curriculum questions.
  • Looking for an afterschool program? Here's what to look for from the federal Department of Education:

  • What are the staff and supervision like?
  • Look at the environment. Is it big enough? Is it inviting and clean? Does the program have good resources, like sports equipment and books?
  • Do the program's activities look fun? Do they help your childís education, too?
  • How flexible is the schedule -- and how well does it match up with your needs?
  • What does it cost? Does that price include everything, or are some things, such as snacks, extra?