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Back-to-School Toolkit: What You Need for Day 1

Back-to-School Toolkit: What You Need for Day 1

Published: Aug. 9, 2022Updated: Aug. 10, 2023

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Cartoon about parent of kids with learning disabilities heading back to schoolSecond panel of cartoon
It’s that time of year again! As we get ready to send our kids back to school, we’re thinking about all the things they might need to be successful this year — new click-top markers and pencil grips, sure, but that’s not nearly all. We’ve put together the following printable templates, checklists, and resources for your back-to-school toolkit to help make your child’s transition to a new school year as smooth as possible.

Create an IEP at a glance

At the start of the school year, teachers are incredibly busy and may not take the time to read your child’s entire IEP right away. You can make sure they prioritize your kid’s most important support needs by creating an IEP at a glance. This one- or two-page document briefly explains your child’s strengths, where they need support, and their most important goals.

Check out our template that you can use to make your own “All About Me” for teachers and school therapists. This template also includes a space to include your vision statement, your child’s strengths, what they’re working on, and what teachers need to know about working with them. It’s a wealth of knowledge that teachers will be able to refer to quickly!

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Schedule a campus orientation tour

If your child is attending a new school this year, see if you can arrange a campus visit before their first day. Going through your child’s schedule and making sure they know how to get to each classroom and bathroom, the cafeteria, the nurse’s office, etc. can help calm those back-to-school jitters so they’re more comfortable with the change in environment.

Check out our campus orientation checklist written with help from an orientation and mobility therapist for a printable list that you can bring with you on a tour.

If a campus tour isn’t possible before the first day of school, you can request a temporary transition aide to assist your child in navigating campus for the first several weeks. The aide can be faded out as your child gains confidence in finding (and settling into) their classes and extracurricular activities on their own. To request this temporary transition aide, Dr. Sarah Pelangka (special education advocate, BCBA-D, and owner of KnowIEPs), suggests parents try one of several options:

  • Call an IEP meeting and request that a district rep be present (they have to approve the temporary service);
  • Email the district and make the request to see if an aide can be approved at least for the first few days;
  • Ask your child’s teacher if they have a classroom paraprofessional who is available during transitions.

Create a visual schedule for the new school routine

Visual schedules are amazing for helping kids with routines, especially when transitioning to a new daily schedule or staying motivated to complete tasks. Whether your child would benefit more from a printed calendar, a magnetic board, or digital reminders, this article rounds up some great apps and websites to help you create a custom visual schedule for this school year.

Make sure your kid is ready for day one

To avoid the morning rush on that first day of school, create a list of items that your kid will need to bring, and get those items ready in advance. Run down the list again as you send your kiddo out the door to make sure nothing is forgotten! Here are some ideas to get your back-to-school checklist started:

  • Regular medications, including any paperwork required by the school with your child’s doctor’s signature
  • Emergency medications, such as those for a food allergy or seizure, also including any paperwork signed by your child’s doctor
  • Extras of supplies your kid might need or run out of, like a change of clothes, face masks, glasses cord and cleaning cloth, motivational items to provide sensory support and encourage good behavior, a pillow for positioning or safety (seizures), or hearing aid batteries. Check out our Adaptive Tools and Supplies list put together by Undivided parents and an OT for additional ideas!

Schedule a one-month IEP check-in

IEP experts and fellow parents recommend scheduling an IEP check-in about four to six weeks into the new school year to make sure it’s being followed. Check out this article for more resources to help you prepare for this check-in!

Checklist of things for parents to do when kids are going back to school

We asked Undivided Navigators for their top tips to prepare for heading back to school. Here's what they said!
We know that the beginning of a new school year can feel overwhelming for both you and your kid. If you need help mapping out your priorities, making a plan, and getting your child the support they need, try a free Kickstart with an Undivided Navigator. They’ll help walk you through all the resources we have available, including step-by-step guides in the Undivided app and education advocacy services to make sure you’re prepared for the school year and beyond. Members also have access to bi-weekly Office Hours with our Education Advocate and other experts to make sure parents get all their questions answered. Schedule your Kickstart today to try membership for free!
The best way to deal with first-day nerves is preparation — so let’s get prepared!



Create an IEP at a glance

Schedule a campus orientation tour

Create a visual schedule for the new school routine

Make sure your kid is ready for day one

Schedule a one-month IEP check-in

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Brittany OlsenUndivided Editor

An editor and cartoonist who loves using words and images to simplify and share ideas. She has ten years of experience as a copy editor and lives near Portland, Oregon. She often spends her free time going on nature walks with her dog or trying new bread recipes.

Reviewed by

Jennifer Drew, Undivided Senior Editor


Dr. Sarah Pelangka, Special Education Advocate, BCBA-D, and owner of KnowIEPs

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