Learning & School Readiness

Back-To-School Essentials That Will Help Your Kids Start Smart

By: Highlights Editorial
Looking for school readiness products to get your little one ready for school? You can find everything you need for going back to school in our Back-to-School Essentials Guide.
5 minutes to read
Ages 3+
Critical Thinking
Social Emotional

Kids need time to prepare emotionally and physically for the first day of school. Here are 5 tips on how to prepare as well as fun and engaging Highlights products that will set kids up for back-to-school success. 

Create continuity 

During the first few weeks of school, let your child continue activities, such as swimming and cycling, that carry over nicely from late summer to early autumn. As the whole family gets ready for a more structured fall schedule, plan one last trip to the lake, pool, ballpark or other favorite location to enjoy the fresh air and preserve memories. 

Establish routines early 

Start the new school year right with an achievable but flexible schedule. It should consider the length of your child’s school day, your child’s need for downtime and sleep and their overall interest in after-school activities. 

Get your child on a regular “school night” schedule for bath and bedtime.  

Your back-to-schooler may need a few weeks to settle into a new and earlier routine, especially if your lights out policy was erratic or non-existent this summer. 

Mark time visually  

Pick up a September-to-June calendar and invite your child to decorate it. Use it to indicate important dates—when school starts, when ballet lessons begin and any upcoming holidays. Marking time concretely can help your child understand the new back-to-school weekly schedule and anticipate the fun stuff, such as Halloween, their birthday and winter vacation. 

Encourage conversation 

Do not be surprised if your child clams up at the end of the day—just when you want to talk about the day’s events. Your child may not know what to say—or your child may lack the vocabulary to express it. A better approach can be to think of a few supportive/funny/open-ended prompts to boost the chatter, but do not force it. 

Be aware, too, that kids may have entirely different concerns than you imagine. They may be concentrating on fitting in with their peer group or impressing the teacher. One study found that children were most focused on understanding the do's and don'ts of classroom rules. Encourage your child to talk about what back-to-school topics feel the most important to them. 

Editor’s Back-to-School Success Picks:  


This is a period of growth and change as kindergartners venture into the more formal setting of schools and classrooms, which most children welcome with a sense of wonder and discovery. They’re ready to apply their skills and knowledge to the more complex tasks of the school environment. This sense of discovery can be tempered by jitters of going to the “big kids’ school.” 

The following products are just what kindergartners need to start the year with the skills for a successful school year. 

The Big Fun Kindergarten Workbook 

You can help your budding student acquire all the skills needed in kindergarten—colors, shapes, letters, numbers, early reading and math skills—with the activities found in this fun-packed workbook. Through puzzle play, matching and sorting games and number and writing activities, your child will build concentration, attention to detail and critical thinking skills to help them learn and grow as a student. 

Write-On Wipe Off: Let’s Write Letters 

Identifying and writing letters is a necessary pre-reading skill. The workbook takes kids through the alphabet with puzzles, mazes and writing activities. 

First Grade 

First grade is a time of adjusting, as schedules and classes are more structured, and playtime is diminished. First-graders are full of energy and ready to make new and important connections, often with a best friend. Some develop deep relationships with teachers. 

The following products will help first graders start the year with all the skills for a successful school year. 

The Big Fun First Grade Workbook 

The pages of The Big Fun First Grade Workbook are filled with games and puzzles designed to help children learn to recognize vowels and consonants, understand sight words, build vocabulary and learn early math and science concepts. 

Word Practice—Handwriting 

Writing words and solving puzzles help kids develop and build vocabulary, and by learning to print, children are writing the same words they see in books, which strengthens the reading-writing connection. Your child gets all this and more in Word Practice—Handwriting, which includes bonus digital handwriting tutorials. 

Second Grade 

Children in this developmental stage feel more settled in school and competent about their skills and daily routines. They look forward to seeing friends at school and value their teachers but can be territorial, tending to solve problems through emotions. 

These books will provide your second grader with the practice needed in key areas for a successful school year. 

The Big Fun Second Grade Workbook 

Refining academic abilities is key to second-grade success. The Big Fun Second Grade Workbook is filled with puzzles and learning activities that kids need in key subject areas: reading, phonics, vocabulary, grammar, cursive, math, social studies and science. 

Handwriting: Cursive Practice 

The ability to write in cursive is a skill all kids need for school success. The Handwriting: Cursive Practice pad features step-by-step guides to forming letters and includes bonus digital handwriting tutorials. 

Award-winning Highlights magazines deliver a monthly dose of positive encouragement, keeping kids of every age inspired and challenged.

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By: Highlights Editorial