How is it almost the end of summer already? As soon as the CNE opened last week we started thinking about back to school. That feeling started creeping in. You know, the “oh no, I’m not looking forward to making lunches again!” or the “no more sleeping!” feelings. And trust me, it doesn’t matter if they’re in kindergarten or heading off to high school or even university. For parents, that feeling comes up every year. So, are you ready? Here’s our last-minute guide and survival tips to easing into the new school year:

Creating MyMoji with OliversLabels.com

TAKE INVENTORY: When we were kids our parents gave us fresh school supplies each fall season. We always had fresh pens, binders, pencil crayons etc.. Now that we have more awareness of being a less wasteful society our kids will replenish only when needed.  They are fine with using what is still good from the previous year.

LABELS: Younger kids heading back to the classroom will need their personal items labelled. Plus you’ll need more for any extra-curricular activities. We love OliversLabels.com we discovered through Staples.ca. My nephew had a lot of fun creating his own “MyMoji” for his labels. He was able to customize his character to  look like him (or not) right down to hair colour, shirts and eyewear. He could also select his font for his name. There are also templates to follow if your child needs inspiration. You can even pick up your order conveniently at your nearest Staples store. Cute, right?

Creative Fun with OliversLabels.com

TECH: How is tech incorporated in the classroom? For kids in elementary school most of the activity will be done in the classroom or computer lab. You’ll most likely find you can get by with the family desktop or even a laptop. Now is the time to clean up your computers. Get rid of inactive files, set up your child’s own profile and ensure that they have the right programs to help them get through the school year. High school kids will be filing more assignments online with their teachers. Upcoming curriculum nights will give you important information on how teachers prefer to communicate. If you’re ready to purchase a new laptop, you’ll want something with lasting power. Keep an eye out for Back-to-School offers from companies like Apple and Microsoft this time of year. Also be sure to learn about added support beyond the purchase. Apple stores offer free workshops for those who are just getting started or need a refresh or want to learn a new task to help improve productivity and creativity. Printers have come down in price and also in size ideal for home and schoolwork. Check out the HP Smart Home Tango Printer. Calculators should wait until they know what their teachers prefer them to use. In later high school years, they will be required to have a scientific calculator — in our case, the teachers have been specific to certain brands and models.

PHONES: If your child already is equipped with a mobile device, this is the time to review any family rules you’ve laid out. Revisit parent controls and adjust accordingly. If you need some guidelines, we’ve found TELUS WISE free online tips for parents and kids very useful. Topics range from safety online to cyberbulling.  Also, check your data situation to see if you need more, organize apps and delete inactive ones, check for cracked screens and battery health. If it’s time to upgrade again, watch for special offers this time of year and compare the plans available. Inquire about Family Share programs that will often offer up the best data plans (also a good way to monitor each person’s usage!).

CLOTHES: Growing up my friends and I always had a fresh new outfit for the first day of school. It may have been a good luck thing, or maybe just an excuse to get new clothes. For my own kids, I noticed they always had some sort of growth spurt over the summer months. Check their sizing for running shoes and a lightweight jacket for the transition weeks. There’s no rush to get any fall clothes as we still have a few weeks of beautiful summer weather ahead of us.

Handed added feature of charging on the go. Swiss Gear (spotted at Staples)

BACKPACKS: As kids get older they’ll have more “stuff” they’ll need to carry around with them. This is why it’s important to find the right backpack that’s not only functional but also ergonomically designed to offer the right support. Look for padding around shoulders, adjustable straps and proper pockets for laptops, books etc. A good backpack will be designed to help distribute what’s inside accordingly. Check for accessible pockets for water bottles and personal items like keys and phone. We like SportCheck, MEC, and NorthFace for the older kids who need sturdy backpacks. Fjallraven is a brand we love for its style and great for the lighter days and weekend sleepovers when there’s no need to carry the big load.

PRE-CLASS PREP: We often needed a few extra activities at the end of the summer to keep our kids busy when they were younger. On the down-times each day, have them create a summer keepsake journal of their favourite memories over the past couple of months. Or pull out some sidewalk chalk. Blending some fun with learning will help prep them for the weeks to come. If STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) is up your alley then check out great DIY lab and robotic kits like UB-Tech.

UB Tech fun STEM projects

TOGETHER: Whether you do your shopping online or in-store, get the kids involved in back-to-school shopping. Take them to pick out their stuff and that will help, especially little ones, get more excited about heading back into the classroom. But don’t over do it! Most teachers will provide a shopping list within the first week back.

Crayola pick your own station was spotted at the Staples store downtown Toronto (University & Spadina).

Any other last-minute back to school tips you’d like to add? Leave it in the comments below!