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10 Tips To Make the Back to School Transition with Your Kids Easy

The seasonal change from summer to fall for you and your family can be overwhelming. Here are some quick tips to help make the transitional period more smooth (and even a little fun) for everyone.

1. Bike, walk, or scooter to school.

If you live nearby, beat the morning traffic by walking, biking, or scootering to school together. Start the morning with some exercise and burn some energy before getting to the classroom.

Quick Tip: Find neighbors and classmates to walk with to make it fun both before and after school! 

2. Keep a checklist on the door. 

Create a picture “checklist” on your kid’s door to review before school each morning: brush your teeth, make your bed, check your backpack, get your shoes on, feed the dog, etc. It’s really helpful in building personal responsibility and will minimize your having to say reminders like, “put your shoes on!” a hundred times.

Download our checklist >

3. Wear school clothes to bed. 

Here’s a hack not many people think of! For younger kids or kids who are especially slow in the morning, put on your school clothes the night before. As long as the clothes are comfortable to sleep in, your morning routine will be faster with one less step. Forget about pajama tops and have kids sleep in the t-shirt that they are going to wear to school.

Quick Tip: This works really well in pre-school and before kids could dress themselves.

4. Keep a common calendar.

Make sure everyone knows what’s happening each day. Keep a calendar or schedule somewhere where everyone can see it easily, like on the fridge or the front door. Plan out lunch schedules, after-school activities, and special school projects. Use post-it notes or a whiteboard calendar to easily make changes and add reminders.

Quick Tip: For older kids, have a family calendar on your phone that you can all update!

5. Separate pre-packed bags for after-school activities. 

Do your kids have a jam-packed after-school schedule? Save time by packing go-bags the night before and leaving them in a designated spot, whether that’s at the front door or in the car. If you have time in the mornings, you can add snacks to this go-bag and make the scramble of afternoon activities so much smoother. 

6. Let your kids choose their own school supplies. 

You may be tempted to shop alone and save yourself the trouble of searching for supplies with your kids there. However, bringing your kids along will help them organize their belongings independently and increase the chance that they’ll use all their supplies.

“They’ll be more excited about using the cool stuff they get to pick out.”

Marcella Moran, PhD, coauthor of Organizing the Disorganized Child 

7. Use a portable homework station.
Once you have your supplies sorted, make a caddy or use a wheeled cart to organize all your supplies at home. Easily bring all your supplies between rooms or on the go.

Quick Tip: For DIY options, use a muffin tray to organize small objects or arrange old tins and cups to hold your writing utensils. 

8. Have your kids make their own lunches. 

Let kids choose their own lunches, and they’ll be more likely to finish their meals every day. This is a great way to teach your kids how to be independent and start choosing their food for themselves. To make sure they’re still getting the right nutrients, have a designated food drawer or refrigerator section that you fill with the dairy, proteins, veggies, fruits, and grains that they need! Designate a space in your refrigerator or pantry for your kids to easily reach their snacks for self-service.

Quick Tip: Give your kids input on the weekly grocery list to better minimize food waste.

9. Start a file bin now.

Instead of waiting for the end of the year, start organizing finished projects and old handouts now! Decide which papers and projects are important to keep as they complete work during the school year. At the end of the year, the decluttering of old school supplies will be much easier. 

Quick Tip: Organize for easy access: separate between long-term storage, frequent use (like a times table), and short-term storage (like handouts for each unit).

10. Sign up for online after school classes. Online after school classes are a great option for busy students. Instead of being shuttled from activity to activity, kids can join live online classes from home. Get access to the best instructors and classes that are available nationwide and have fun working with friends in online groups. 

Create an account and profile for your kids to find personalized after school enrichment classes at ActivityHero.

Parenting Resources

10 Learning Toys for a 5 Year Old

Sometime before the holidays, I was talking to a friend about the type of presents we were giving our children, friends, and family.  We were both talking about how we were trying to cut down on the flimsy, plastic trinket-type toys that kids play with for 2 minutes and then they end up either broken or forgotten about.  This year my holiday shopping focused on toys that were both educational and fun for my 5 year old and his similarly-aged cousins and friends.

Here are some of the coolest learning toys I came across during my holiday shopping last year.  Lots of these toys are almost as much fun for adults – and I’ve learned a bit from them, too!

  1. GeoSafari Junior Talking Microscope.This fun, talking microscope gives children the opportunity to get up close and personal with specimens and insects.  Your kids can even quiz themselves on what they’ve learned.  It’s the perfect learning toy for a kid who is interested in science.

  2. Magic School Bus Science Kits.  Did anyone else grow up reading the Magic School Bus books?  I loved them and it’s fun to see that the Magic School Bus has science kits now.  These are super fun for the budding scientist.  They have a variety of kits ranging from the human body to weather.

  3. Edu Science Young Explorer Illuminated Globe.  Globes are a wonderful tool for kids who want to learn about the world around them.  There are a lot of snazzy globes out there for kids nowadays, but I love just a simple globe like this one.  It does have a fun perk, though:  it lights up and you can see constellations.

  4. Erector Set.  This classic toy has entertained young engineers for generations.  The Construction System line is made specifically for little hands – it’s perfect for a 5 year old.  Kids can learn basic engineering and building principles and as a bonus, afterwards they can play with their masterpieces.


  1. Legos. I love Legos for kids because, like an Erector set, they can teach kids basic engineering, building, and direction-following skills.  They can also be a totally creative toy, where kids can design their own buildings and vehicles.  Legos truly never get boring.

  2. Scientific Explorer’s Ice Cream Science Kit.  Learning toys are fun, but what could make a science kit even more fun?  Ice cream!  This science kit teaches kids about the science of ice crystals while they make a delicious dessert.

  3. Fire HD Kids Edition.  There are tons of tablets for kids on the market right now, but I like the Fire HD Kids Edition quite a bit.  I don’t want a tablet that my kid will outgrow next year.  The Fire HD Kids Edition has different interfaces, one for little kids, one for older kids, and one for adults.  It also comes with a very durable case and a 2 year no-questions-asked warranty.  You have access to the Amazon App store, which has lots of educational apps.

  4. LeapFrog Printing Dry Erase Activity Book.  These letter-tracing activity books are great for kids who are just at the beginning stages of learning to write or kids who need to work on making their letters straight and legible.  No more wasting paper, just wipe clean and start over again.

  1. See-Through Compost Container.  This is educational for both kids and adults.  You can put anything in this container and watch it break down!  There are three separate compartments that allow you to view the entire decomposition process clearly.  Learn what will biodegrade outside and what kinds of items won’t decompose.  It’s also a lesson on the environment and why littering is bad and recycling is important.


  1. Record & Learn KidiStudio.  If you have a kid who has a passion to play music, this learning piano toy is a wonderful pick.  Children can learn to play their favorite tunes by following the lights on the light-up keyboard.  They can also get in touch with their creative side and record their own creations.  It’s great fun and a nice way to get a young kid interested in playing the keyboard.

There are so many excellent learning toys for 5 year olds available right now.  From science-related toys to helping kids learn to write, these toys make learning fun.  In fact, I’m pretty sure my husband is a bigger fan of the Legos and Erector Set than my 5 year old.