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Our Back-to-School Guide for the 2023-2024 Year

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

Last updated: August 2, 2024


As we bid adieu to the carefree days of summer, the question on every parent's mind is, "How do I make sure my child is equipped for success this school year?"


Enter our comprehensive back-to-school guide! This isn't your run-of-the-mill checklist.


It's a curated collection of essentials, from steps you and your student can take to our favorite supplies. This guide is designed to prepare your student with the tools they need to conquer their classes, stay organized, and handle their homework like a pro.


So, let's dive in and kickstart this academic year on a high note!


Here is what you will find in this guide:


Recommend steps to take before the school year starts



Recommend steps to take before the school year starts


Get all your teacher's emails in one place

I recommend using our digital planner template to organize all teacher emails in one place.


This makes it SO much easier when they need to ask for:

  • Clarification on assignment directions

  • Advocating for their accommodations to be put in place

  • Asking for guidance on how to prepare for an exam

  • And more!

Google sheet with space for teacher names and emails
Download our digital planner template

You can download the digital planner template by clicking here.


Create a password organizer

On the same digital planner template, we have a password organizer sheet. You can use this to make sure your student knows how to log in to all their different portals including:

  • Email

  • Learning Management System

  • Student Information Systems

  • Bank accounts

  • And more!

Google sheet with space to organize passwords
Password organization is key for school management!

You can download the password organizer template by clicking here.


Send each of your teachers an introduction with your goals for their class

Did you know you increase your chances of reaching a goal by 42% just by writing it down?


I think that percentage gets closer to 80% if you actually send your goal to your teacher, so your teacher can help you reach the goal.


You can use our email templates to share your goals with your teacher and get them on-board with helping you, the whole semester.


You can download the email communication templates by clicking here.


Supplies Sections

 

Binder Organization


These are recommended because:

  • They don’t lose their stickiness as they are moved across locations

  • Can be stuck on mirrors, refrigerator doors, countertops, computers, car dashboards.

And can be used for:

  • Track projects and use the colors to signify which roadmap goals they are attached to

  • Reminder notes of things to do

  • People to call or follow up with


Morgan also recommends the Five Star Expanding File Folder for students who want to keep everything in their backpacks while organizing.


This will help for students who might lose things as soon as they remove them from their backpack.


They could then put all their papers in there at school and work with their coach to organize them 1-2 times per week.







Taking Notes


Livescribe Symphony Smartpen Digital Pen

Sean recommends the Livescribe Symphony Smartpen Digital Pen to help who struggle to keep up with class notes.


The pen captures everything that you write and everything that is spoken. Inside the pen is a camera that takes a picture of your notes as you write them. It also has a built-in microphone that lets you record what is being said.

This is recommended because:

  • Provides an archived digital copy to be saved as a PDF afterward for distribution and storage

  • You need to be able to write/capture without having to have a mobile device paired and nearby

  • Comes with a built-in audio recorder, allowing you to record interviews and lectures so that you can write them out later

  • Delivers fantastic accuracy for both writing and drawing which is vital for a smart pen

And can be used for:

  • Students who struggle to keep up with class if they are taking notes

Downsides:

  • You have to press harder to get the cap to snap into place

  • You can write on anything, but you will lose all the functionality of the smartpen by using non-Livescribe paper. Without the dot-enabled paper the smartpen will not know where it is and will not be able to use any of its features.


Have you purchased your back-to-school supplies yet?

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Tracking To-Do's


Post-it Notes


These are recommended because:

  • They don’t lose their stickiness as they are moved across locations

  • Can be stuck on mirrors, refrigerator doors, countertops, computers, car dashboards.

And can be used for:

  • Track projects and use the colors to signify which roadmap goals they are attached to

  • Reminder notes of things to do

  • People to call


We recommends getting these post-its because they are translucent and can be put atop textbook pages to make notes on the actual book.

  • Great for textbooks you cannot write in, but want to make notations on

We also recommends these smaller post-its for when you need to make annotations in books, they come in a variety of colors and are durable.






Sean recommends getting this post-it spike.

This is recommended because:

  • "Gives me a rush of euphoria to put my To Do's on a spike"

  • Helps you see how productive you are over a long period of time

  • Changes the narrative in your mind about "not being productive"

And can be used for:

  • Spiking Post-it notes gleefully (and carefully) after completing assignments


Wall Calendar



This is recommended because:

  • There are no bubbles or lifting of the laminate

And can be used for:

  • Track projects

  • See a big-picture view of the month

Make sure to:

  1. When first unwinding, do not let the calendar unwind so quickly! Hold together as you remove the rubber bands on each end (and tape) then slowly let it unwind.

  2. Hold one of the short ends and GENTLY shake the calendar to help it relax.

  3. Lay on a flat surface, and place on four corners & middle short sections something to help flatten the rolling of the short ends

  4. Leave overnight.


Planner

The Order Out of Chaos planner by Leslie Josel. We recommend this planner because:

  • Some of our team members use it themselves

  • The calendar layout allows students to see school assignments ALONGSIDE after-school activities so they can plan WHEN they have time to get work done

Here is how it looks on the inside:




Notebooks for classes

We recommend colored Oxford Spiral Notebook 6 Pack for classes.


These are recommended because:

  • Having different colors for each class will help with organization

  • The paper doesn't bleed through

  • Pages don't tear off easily

  • The lines on the paper in these notebooks are dark blue and vivid


Pens, Pencils and Highlighters


Pens



These are recommended because:

  • Having different colors for each class will help with organization

  • The paper doesn't bleed through

  • Pages don't tear off easily

  • The lines on the paper in these notebooks are dark blue and vivid


Pencils



These are recommended because:

  • 5 count is enough for one-semester

  • Pink eraser makes do-overs easy

  • #2 lead is perfect for standardized tests


Highlighters


We recommend sticking to the basics and just getting Chisel Tip, Fluorescent Ink Highlighters, Assorted Colors - Pack of 12


These are recommended because:

  • Colors are vibrant

  • Don't bleed through pages

  • The paper doesn't bleed through

  • Colors are not too dark

And can be used for:

  • Highlighting key information

  • Creating different "hashtags" in your notes

Miscellaneous Supplies


The Time Timer

Sean recommends the Time Timer to help students with time blindness.

This is recommended because:

  • The red chunks of time give you an exact representation of how much time remains before whatever you set it for

  • Simple to set. All you do is put your finger on the black dot and pull it around to the time setting you to need to be measured.

Great for:

  • Students with dyslexia or dyscalculia who prefer a visual representation of time, rather than numbers


Water Bottle

These are recommended because:

  • Wide mouth is easy to wash

  • BPA free

  • 32 ounces is a good amount to drink every day

  • Comes in lots of neat colors

And can be used for:

  • Staying alive!


Conclusion

And that's a wrap on our back-to-school guide! But remember, these aren't just items to check off a list. They're hand-picked tools designed to help your child navigate the ups and downs of a new academic year.


This guide is meant to set your child up for success, helping them manage their tasks, stay organized, and never miss an assignment.


So go ahead, prep for the school year with confidence, and get ready to make this academic year the best one yet.



Other resources


About the author:

Sean G. McCormick is the founder of Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business that guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.


He also founded the Executive Function Coaching Academy which trains special education teachers, school psychologists and other professionals to support students with ADHD and executive function challenges.

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EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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