Back to School Tips

by Zehorit Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence

Summer is drawing to a close and August brings with it thoughts of fall and the beginning of a new school year. Whether your children are in elementary or high school, or even if they are bound for college – Organization is the name of the game! Here are a few ideas and resources that have served me well as my 4 kids were growing up.

Inventory: Before you set out for all those shopping trips, check out the home supplies. Now is the time to tally your horde of pens and pencils, crayons, watercolors, notebooks and more, especially if you did not get a chance do this at the end of the previous school year. 

Do the same with clothes, jackets, shoes and boots and create a     comprehensive list of needs and wants.

You will prevent duplication and may find items you forgot you had!     (Happened to me a few times….)

Shopping: When it comes to this monumental task (remember – I had to shop for 4 kids…), think in term of strategies. Browse for coupons and sales and sign up for websites’ newsletter to get the initiation discount (you can always unsubscribe later). Also, make use of the digital world: If you are comfortable with online shopping, Amazon is a lifesaver. Discount apps are available too; one of my favorites is Retail Me Not which is free.

Stock up: Having snacks and drinks on hand is handy, when you need to run out to soccer practice and ballet class. Packaged one-serving items can be pretty spendy. I like to buy wholesale sizes of our favorite snacks and pack them in zip-top bags in our desired sizes.

Get the home ready: Clear summer clutter from your mudroom, make sure hooks/cubbies/closets have space and are easy landing spots for backpacks, jackets and shoes. Same for kids’ rooms and closets.

Create a family calendar: color code it by person; printed or even a dry erase board work well. Check out for a traditional plain look, or for a more personalized, fun look. If you’d like to make your own – here you go!

Get the family ready: Summer schedules tend to be fluid, leaving room for spontaneous picnics or a trip to the pool, thus leading to late nights and sleepy mornings. About 10 days before school begins, start enforcing a more structured routine (whatever is your family’s normal preference). That way, everybody will start the school year a lot less cranky (parents included!!)

Digital aids: School days bring the dreaded homework and science projects back into our lives. Familiarize yourself and make use of the multitude of apps (such as PhotoMath) and other online resources to ease the homework anxiety (mom and dad’s too!) Check out this NY Times article and use the wisdom of this article.

Last and not least, embrace the last few days of summer, enjoy marking the passing of yet another season and have a fabulous school year!