The Back To School Essentials Checklist

Wow! After all the homeschooling and the various lockdowns, it’s great to see kids going back to school and into the classrooms. With the strange year we’ve had, the usual routines have gone out the window and finding that PE kit may be a struggle too. And will they even fit in their kit and uniform? And where’s that lunch box gone?

Getting ready to go back to school can sometimes be a challenge. Creating that list of back to school tasks is often part of the process and for busy mums and dads, a list is always required. To prevent any issues, we’ve created a checklist of those essentials you’ll need to check, re-use or buy again.

Here’s our comprehensive checklist of those back to school essentials, split into kit, stationery and COVID-19 essentials to make it easy for you and your kids to tick off as you go along. Getting your little ones involved, whether they’re younger or older children, makes sense as it adds to the excitement of getting back to school and can be a fun activity to do together. Of course, the older ones will also be keen to have their say on what’s being bought – they really don’t want another lunchbox with pink fairies on!

We’ve even created a downloadable PDF version of the checklist below so you can print it and tick it off as you go along. We all get a sense of satisfaction ticking off those little, yet important tasks.


The Back To School Kit Essentials Checklist

When it comes to the kit, it definitely makes sense to check if clothes, shoes and trainers still fit. The checklist includes:

  • Uniform – checking the school requirements of course
  • Shoes and socks
  • Shoe polish kit – to make those shoes shiny
  • Coat
  • Umbrella
  • Hat, scarf and gloves
  • PE kit including trainers, t-shirts, shorts, sports socks and a PE kit bag to pop it all in
  • Swimwear if there’s school swimming lessons and maybe a separate swimming kit bag
  • Rucksack, school bag or book bag
  • Lunch box and drinks bottle
  • Name labels for all that kit

The Back To School Stationery Essentials Checklist

colour pencils lined upThis includes all the stationery essentials as well as a few extras for older children:

Depending on the age of your children, you may also need:

  • English dictionary and thesaurus
  • A pocket calculator and possibly a scientific one
  • A maths geometry kit including compass, protractor and set squares
  • Foreign language dictionary may also be on the list

The COVID-19 Essentials Checklist

Of course, these days, we also need to add:

  • Hand sanitiser – ideally pocket-sized
  • Hand wipes
  • Possible face masks depending on your school’s policy on this
  • Tissues
  • Sun cream and a sun hat (in case of hot weather)

Buying all this back to school equipment needn’t cost the earth, so make a trip to your nearest Poundstretcher store and bring our checklist along so you can tick off the items as you add them to your basket or trolley.

Find a store

We’ve created the checklist to help you get super organised. Of course, this is the kit list and it’s great to get that organised in plenty of time. However, as all parents know, this is just one part of the getting ready to go back to school process. Encouraging your little ones to join in makes sense as you start to prepare them for the return to school and most likely reduce their stress levels from going back into school and all that entails. Certainly, the August/September back to school time is an important one, as they go up a year, maybe have a new teacher or even a new school to go to, so making the process of getting ready fun will certainly help.

So, when do you start with all the preparations? We’ve built our checklist based on what you need to think about first and that is certainly the uniform as that will take a little longer to sort, especially as you’ve got to sew in or apply those name tags.

In terms of a schedule, our recommendation is not to start too early, for one they keep growing, then there’s also the fact it’s the summer holidays, so it’s best to enjoy it and have some fun.

The Back to School Final Countdown

Someone holding a tiny clock

4 weeks to go:

  • Check out any communications from the school. With COVID-19 restrictions easing the school’s policies on what to take, the process may be a little different to last year so make sure you read the information carefully.
    • is there a new school uniform policy
    • any checklists from the school
    • any paperwork to complete or anything extra to take into consideration which will most likely be the case when your child is changing schools
    • pop the back to school date on your family calendar so everyone knows when it is
  • Check the clothing situation and involve your children, and probably, more importantly, the teenagers, in any new purchases.
  • Consider what embroidered uniform you require, and the lead times from these suppliers, don’t leave this until the rush at the end of the summer break.
  • Check if any hand-me-downs are really reusable.
  • Get your name labels on order.
  • Organise any childcare arrangements.
  • Book that school bus if needed.

3 weeks to go:

  • Buy those essential items including uniform, PE kit and coat (as long as you’re in agreement on the items) – top tip – shop around as you may not need to go to the school’s preferred uniform supplier.
  • Buy the rucksacks, lunch boxes and drinks bottles – encourage the children to get involved in deciding on the designs.
  • Buy the stationery you need – of course, re-use what you have but everyone loves new stationery, and the pencil case from year 3 is really not a good look for year 5 – honest!
  • Book in any haircuts and eye tests, and even getting them to the dentist before school starts will ease the busy time when school is back.

2 weeks to go:

  • Time to check if there was any summer holiday homework – hopefully, there won’t have been but the schools this year may be eager to provide homework to help the children catch up, and let’s face it, you’re a dab hand at homeschooling now so you’d best get to it!
  • Routines need to start going back to the school term schedules, so gradually get them to bed earlier and up earlier. No more lie-ins and late nights.

1 week to go:

  • Have you done your sewing? Pop those name tags in the new kit if you haven’t already, or if you’ve gone with a fabric pen approach, get that pen out and start tagging the kit.
  • Check the school paperwork and note down the timings on your Family Calendar.
  • Why not organise a picnic/playdate with their close friends to help them get excited about going back? A little bit of chocolate will always be a treat.
  • Pop a little slip of paper inside your children’s rucksack with your emergency contact details for added safety. Of course, the school should have your details.
  • For younger children, you may need to include a spare change of clothes in case of accidents – worth checking with the school on their specific policy as things have changed with COVID-19.
  • Remember to buy the lunch box food for the first week.
  • Having school dinners rather than packed lunches? Then make sure you’ve ordered them and set up payments.
  • If your child is on any medication, you’re best to contact the school to discuss their procedures. They will most likely need a medical form completing and the medicine dropped off at the school beforehand.

The day before:

  • Encourage your child to pack their school bag or help you pack it.
  • Get the uniform ready as well as a PE kit if needed.
  • Prepare the lunch boxes including a piece of fruit for break time.
  • Re-set your alarm – no more lie-ins, Monday to Friday needs to be school hour wake-up times.

On the day:

  • Start early to make the getting ready for school experience less frantic and more fun.
  • Fill up the drinks bottles and get all the kit ready – school bags, PE kit, lunch boxes and bottles.
  • Make sure they actually take their bags with them!
  • Send them or take them to school – aren’t school days just the best?
  • Set an alarm for yourself so you don’t forget to pick them up!

Download Your Back To School Kit Essentials Checklist

We hope you enjoy ticking everything off the list.

Download Checklist

When it comes to going back to school, we hope the Back To School Kit Essentials Checklist as well as the Back to School Final Countdown is useful and helps relieve some of the stress of going back to school.

Our Back to School Leaflet

Check out our Back to School Leaflet below for the latest school related products in our one accessible PDF.

Download Leaflet

When you’re ready to buy all those essential items, check out our Back To School Supplies page and our Store Finder for addresses, directions and opening hours!

Don't know where your local Poundstretcher is? Then check out our Store Finder for addresses, contact details and more!

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