Still PCSing? Here’s how to get ready for the next school year


Everywhere you look, there they are. Back to school ads are in every newspaper and all over TV. It’s like little daggers every time you see, hear, or catch a whiff of school supplies.

Because all of your child’s school stuff from last year is still in your undelivered household goods shipment. And you still don’t know where your child is going to school. There is the also a panic that if you wait too long to go to the store that all of the essentials will be sold out.

School recon

You might still be in transit or undecided on a school. That’s okay. Most schools require the same basic essentials. Many schools will post their supply lists online. Some of the big box stores will also have supply lists available.

As you are running around, grab as many lists as you can. Check them all out and circle the things that they have in common.

Most schools will require:

  • Pack of pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Folders
  • Notebooks
  • Three-ring binders

Now that you have your background research complete, you’re ready to go.

Search and find

Before you run to the store and buy everything in sight, it helps to reflect. Take a mental walk through your current situation. Whether you took a plane or drove, you probably have a few essentials.

Take a walk through your hotel room or your yet-to-be-filled house. See how many things you can collect from this list:

  • Backpack
  • Notebook
  • Pens
  • Pencil
  • Folders
  • Three-ring binder
  • Lunch box
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils

Once you’ve collected as many of these school essentials as you can, divide them up into piles. One pile for each of your children.

With the things you already have, you are on the right track for back to school success!

Go shopping

You know what you have and you also know some basics required by most schools. Now get out there and purchase anything that you don’t already have.

But buy only the essentials. Really stick to the plainest things possible. This is especially crucial if you don’t really know where your kids are attending yet. Each school might have a particular type of folder or notebook.

As you are shopping, get plain colored notebooks, folders, and binders. Try to get the bound notebooks instead of spiral bound. Stick to the sturdier plastic folders with pockets and basic binders.

While you are out, the one place to “splurge” would be the art and writing supplies. Grab Ticonderoga pencils and reputable brands of crayons, colored pencils, and markers. Skip the cheap stuff. It will just cost more money down the road when you need to replace supplies.

If you know where your children will be enrolled, ask about pre-stuffed supply kits. Many schools have programs so that families can order all of their supplies in one place, for one price. The boxes are usually delivered to your child’s homeroom teacher before the first day of school.

Limit yourself

Honestly, it will pay off in the long run to hold back on the back-to-school shopping. When you just buy the absolute essentials, it will help prevent the overwhelm of stuff later. You won’t be stuck with things your child doesn’t need at school or that are duplicates of items in your HHG.

Try to avoid buying too many clothes, especially if you are in a new climate. Work out of your suitcases for as long as you can. The one exception would be if your children are attending a school that requires uniforms. In this case, grab just the basics to meet the requirements.

You’re not alone

Let’s get real for a minute. Your children will not be the only ones with the basics on the first day of school. Many children will only have some of the supplies. Some will arrive with nothing. Lots of children will not be wearing brand new clothes or using last year’s backpack.

It is 100 percent okay for your kids to be less than fully stocked for Day One. As long as they show up with some of the basics, everything will be just fine.

By Meg Flanagan