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Back to School Checklist from A to Z

Back to School Checklist from A to Z

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - August 8th, 2018

Back to School Checklist

Back to School Checklist from A to Z

Time for back to school is just around the corner, so we want to help you prepare with our back to school checklist!  The summer is just speeding by, isn’t it?

Many parents feel overwhelmed at the prospect of getting ready for another school year. To help you remember what’s important this time of year, we’ve put together an A to Z back-to-school list.

A. Assignments. Look, I get it: homework isn’t fun for your or your child. But there’s a reason schools send home work for your child – and it’s important that they do their best so they have a shot at going to a good school and landing a rewarding career. Make it a habit for your child each day by laying out the time and place where these assignments will be completed.  In our home that is often after we get home, while I’m making dinner.  Before my children do anything else, homework is first (and often I have a healthy after-school snack and drink for them then, too).

B. Britannica Learning Zone for kids aged pre-K through 2nd grade and Britannica School, which includes lessons for kids in Kindergarten through 8th grade, is a great way to get engaged. The world’s most famous encyclopedia-makers have put their knowledge online, and both programs are included with your membership.  Also included is Buncee, which is an AWESOME, digital-canvas, presentation maker.  Your child will be too cool for school!

C. Common Core. I don’t have to tell you about the Common Core test – I’m sure you’re very familiar with it already. These new state standards are rolling out in almost every state, and your child will need to do well on the exam just to advance to the next grade!

D. Don’t panic. There will be lots of times during this school year that you feel overwhelmed. Whether it’s because your child is struggling in a subject, or because you don’t know how to help your child achieve their all, there are always resources available to you. Take a deep breath, talk to someone who can assist in your plans and decisions and do your research.  Who said school was over for us parents?  We, too, are always learning.

E. Excellence. Always encourage your child not just to keep up, but to excel. It’s the only way they’ll have a fighting chance at getting into a top school (and, later, a top college).  Teach your child the great character traits that come with excellence (from the US Army traits of character):

  • Bearing
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Integrity
  • Decisiveness
  • Justice
  • Endurance
  • Tact
  • Initiative
  • Coolness
  • Maturity
  • Improvement
  • Will
  • Assertiveness
  • Candor
  • Sense of humor
  • Competence
  • Commitment
  • Creativity
  • Self-discipline
  • Humility
  • Flexibility
  • Empathy/Compassion

F. Flix. Scholastic’s Programs, ScienceFlix (for science), FreedomFlix (for reading), TrueFlix and BookFlix (both for Common Core), provide your child a fun and interactive way to learn the subjects they need to do well in – with the Scholastic name that parents have trusted for generations.

G. Go on field trips. Chances are that your child will go on at least one field trip with their class this year. But don’t let that stop you from planning your own educational outings! Whether it’s to a museum, government building, or historical site, there are plenty of ways to enrich your child’s mind outside the classroom.

H. Have fun! Make sure that you enjoy yourself – and that your child does too! Mix up the materials you use to study so that you incorporate some interactive materials and even games (whether online or offline).

I. IQ Fun Pack. We’ve made our unique double-sided board game even better by adding the “Are You Smarter Than a Space Baby” bonus game on the bottom of the box! You can access over 10,000 printable flash cards accessible from your tablet or laptop and enjoy its interactive components that come included with your Top membership.

J. Just say yes. Don’t be afraid to try new things to help your child achieve educational excellence. The most successful parents are the ones who throw themselves headlong into their child’s schooling – and use every resource at their disposal.

K. Knowledge. Many parents wait until it’s too late to find out what test their child will be taking or which subjects they’ll need to master to get into a coveted Gifted and Talented program or private school. Arm yourself early – do your research and ask around to teachers and other parents so you know what your child will be up against.

L. Listening. If your child struggles to follow directions or pay attention in class, work on building those all-important listening skills! Mime putting on your “listening ears” (and have your child grab theirs), teach your child jokes, poems and stories to repeat back to you, and make sure they’re watching your mouth as you speak. These little practice methods at home add up to better listening in class — and higher grades, too.

M. Manga High and Mathletics. Your Top membership gives you access to these two fantastic math programs, which will make arithmetic fun even for the number-challenged child.

N. Never give up on your child. Of course, no parent ever expressly gives up on their child. But without knowing it, many parents do throw up their hands in despair when they run into a rough path in their child’s education. Your child can’t afford to have a parent who is easily frustrated or discouraged. Stick with your child through thick and thin – I promise it will pay off.

O. Options. Always keep your child’s options open. Many parents are dead-set on private school, then discover that their child is best suited to a public Gifted and Talented program. Other parents think their child is destined to be a doctor or engineer, only to find out that their child is more verbally and creatively-minded. Leave every path open for your child. They’ll thank you later.

P. Practice. No matter what the subject, practicing for just 5-10 minutes a day can help your child do better — and if you can’t find the time, try printing out some practice questions from and doing them during bath time right before bed. If your child gets 4-5 right in a row, let them pick a favorite story to read or earn an extra sticker!

Q. Quiet homework spot. If your child doesn’t have a clean, peaceful spot where they can complete their homework, their chances of educational excellence are vanishingly small. Make sure your child has a safe place where they can focus and hear themselves think. If you live in a smaller home or apartment, a clean, well-organized dining room table can work terrifically.

S. Study Island. This groundbreaking program helps prepare your child for Common Core and other testing in a variety of subjects, including math, language arts, science, and social studies. Naturally, it’s included in your Top membership.

T. Test preparation. Yes, I know, nobody gets excited about test preparation. And many people feel that it is wrong for any number of reasons. But the reality is that more and more parents are preparing their kids for all kinds of tests, from Gifted and Talented exams to Common Core. Make sure you don’t unilaterally deprive your child of a chance to succeed. has over 50,000 G&T and private school practice questions as well as online games and entire sections dedicated to Common Core and Kindergarten Readiness. We also have over 30 partner programs in our Skill Building Academy to help your child build the skills needed for testing and school success.

U. Understand what your child is up against. I don’t want to be dramatic, but the competition inherent in education is worse than it’s ever been. In many school districts across the country, your child has a better chance of ultimately getting into Harvard than they do of getting into a Gifted and Talented program. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the forces that your child faces, and make sure they’re prepared to meet any challenge.

V. Visits with your child’s teacher. Having a relationship with your child’s teacher is invaluable. It allows you to know how your child is doing once they head back to school, and lets the teacher know that they can count on you to be involved in your child’s education. They’ll be more willing to reach out to you when there’s a problem if you establish a solid line of communication.

W. WorldBook. Your Top membership includes access to three great WorldBook programs: WorldBook early learning, WorldBook Science Power, and WorldBook Social Studies Power. These programs aren’t just chock-full of great learning material; they’re also backed up by the vaunted WorldBook name.

X. Xylophone (or any other musical instrument!) In addition to giving your child a welcome break from schoolwork and tests, playing a musical instrument can do wonders for your child’s educational achievement. Playing an instrument helps your kid flex their creative muscles, and as an added bonus is a lot of fun!

Y. You have the power. Don’t ever forget, no matter what happens, that you (and you alone) have the power to give your child a first-rate education when they head back to school. If you leave it to the teachers and the school system, you’re depriving your child of their most potent resource – a caring parent who is involved in their education every step of the way.

Z. Zen. Despite all the anxiety and uncertainty that accompanies a school year – especially when it’s just getting started – it’s important to maintain a sense of calm and peace, especially within yourself. Knowing that you’re giving your child’s education your full attention and dedication is the best medicine for the tough times that you’ll face this school year. Focus your eyes on the year ahead with full confidence that it’s going to be the BEST YEAR EVER for your child!

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