After a glorious sun-filled summer of road trips and backyard barbeques, the time has come to swap your iced coffee for a pumpkin spice latte, and gear up for back to school. For kids, there’s a lot of anticipation and excitement around the first day of classes. Whether they’re going back to a school they’re used to, or stepping inside the halls of high school for the first time, there’s a lot to prepare and organize. Read on for our ultimate back-to-school checklist, so you and your family are set up for success.

Get your ducks (and pencils) in a row with a back-to-school checklist

From a new backpack to a handful of freshly sharpened pencils, there’s a lot you need to put on your back-to-school supplies list. Some schools provide a list to parents, so before you run to the store to stock up, scan your email for any lists from your child’s school. If you haven’t been given a list and want to get a head start, your best bet is to replenish the essentials (what you used last year is a great place to start), and wait to buy anything specialized—such as a calculator or graph paper—until you know you need it.

Keep in mind that the essential checklist for every student going back to school extends beyond school supplies; while your teen might not be excited to go out and buy loose leaf paper, they might be into shopping for a new sweater or a pair of slick kicks. But before you go to the mall or hit the buy button, take inventory of what still fits (and what they’ll still wear) so you don’t double up on things. Then make a back-to-school supplies checklist of whatever else you need to buy new.

Ease into early wakeups by getting ahead of their school schedule

There’s nothing quite like the rude awakening of forcing your kid out of bed at seven, when they’re used to sleeping in until nine, followed by a leisurely breakfast with a side of YouTube. Instead of dragging them out of bed on the first day, start waking them up at the time they’ll need to get up for school in the days leading up to school. This also includes managing their night-time routine (time to say goodbye to late-night video-game sessions), with Canada’s Public Health Agency  recommending that children aged 5–13 get 9 to 11 hours of sleep, while teens aged 14–17 need 8 to 10 hours a night.

Find yourself guilty of binging Netflix late into the night? With school starting, you’ll have to wake up earlier too so getting into a better evening routine is a must on back-to-school checklists for parents too (you’ll thank us later).

Work together to make packed lunches a success

The dreaded “what to make for lunch” question, doesn’t need to keep you up at night, especially if you involve your kids. Include them in the weekly grocery planning and keep the fridge and pantry stocked with easy-to-pack healthy foods—think yogurt, hearty granola bars, cut-up veggies and fresh fruit. Prepping on Sunday goes a long way to save you time during the week, while dinner leftovers can become a delicious lunch the next day. 

Make your home the perfect place for family communication and homework

Once you get back into the school routine, it doesn’t take long for the calendar to fill up with everything from sports practices to school meetings and appointments. Stay organized with a centrally located message centre so the entire family can keep track of their schedules and any last-minute back-to-school checklist purchases. As you prepare for back-to-school, it’s also important to create a distraction-free, comfortable space for your kids to do their homework.

Talk with your kids about making efforts to stay healthy

Back to school has looked a little different these past few years, with the rules around masks, virtual learning and testing varying by province and always changing. Whether your kids are returning in person after online learning or are going to school for the first time, it’s a good idea to remind them about proper hygiene (like washing their hands longer than a millisecond), social distancing and how to wear a mask the right way, if they plan on wearing one. 

Start saving for your child’s post-secondary education

As the saying goes, “The days are long but the years are short,” and that rings true for parenthood. One minute you’re taking photos of their first day of Kindergarten, and it feels like they’re starting high school in the blink of an eye. Before the school year flies by, one item you need to put on your back-to-school checklist is opening a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) with CST Spark. By starting a CST Spark RESP, you’re setting your child up for success by making post-secondary school more accessible.

One math equation with an A+ solution is the government-matching grants you get access to when saving with an RESP. The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG), matches 20% of the first $2,500 you contribute to your child’s RESP every year, up to $500 a year in grants, with a lifetime maximum of $7,200 per child. There’s also additional government money you may qualify for, which is why working with an RESP company that knows RESPs as well as your teen knows every lyric to everything Olivia Rodrigo has ever sung, is so important. 

You don’t need tons of money to get started, but just like signing up for summer camps, it’s the earlier the better.

Still have questions? As always, we’re available to chat 6 days a week, or explore our website for more details.

CST Spark Education Portfolios are sold only by Prospectus. Investors should read the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.


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