Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Backpack Check

Cody entered the kindergarten classroom that morning with an impish grin on his face. He promptly opened his backpack and out came a blue parakeet! The little bird nervously flew around the room as the children screamed and parents looked up in astonishment.

I’d been teaching kindergarten for several years and thought I had seen everything, but this was a first for me. Ever the prepared teacher, I quickly found a butterfly net and finally managed to catch the pet bird without harming it or myself (teachers shouldn't stand on chairs while children are watching if they can help it). The poor little thing finally landed in the spare cage. We had Show and Tell earlier than usual that day.

When I called Cody’s mother to tell her she could come pick up the bird (curious to know if mom knew the bird visited kindergarten) she said, “I wondered why Cody didn’t want me to look in his backpack this morning.” I’ll bet she never failed to do so after that.

Actually, it’s a good idea to check your child’s backpack twice—first, when they come home from school and before he or she leaves for school.

Items that Need Attention:
  • Notes from the teacher. Our school has a “Monday” folder that is included in the child’s backpack. Inside are papers the teacher wants signed and returned: Field Trip Permission Slips, behavior charts, report cards, photography shoots, Grandparent's Day lunch count, Super Star notice with some suggestions, to name a few. If your child’s teacher does not put all of this in a folder, you may have to search for these important items.
  • Birthday invitations. You’ll want to see this as soon as possible so you’ll have plenty of time to buy a gift.
  • Homework. Even in kindergarten, homework may be assigned such as sharing a book that needs to be returned. The Super Star may have a journal to write in for his special Show & Tell. Have a certain place to do homework. That way you’ll know where to find that Sharing book, journal or assignment so that you can return it.
  • Cafeteria menu. Check this out for early warning of lunches your child might not eat.
  • Notices of upcoming events, such as school pictures, fundraisers (book fairs or selling pizza, cookie dough or candles) and evening or holiday activities. Any notices involving money are usually sent home several weeks in advance. Please read these so you won’t be the parent who complains that they didn’t find out in time, leaving your child wondering why they didn't get to have something the other children did at the book fair (pencils cost less than $1.00 at books fairs).
Items that May Need to be Packed for the Next Day.
  • Lunch. If your child has food allergies, or dislikes certain cafeteria foods, pack a healthy lunch rather than have them go hungry, or eat only the desert.
  • Signed papers. Some papers, such as behavior charts, only need your signature.
  • Money. For the cafeteria, for fundraisers, for the book fair…
  • Assignments. Completed and with your signature if requested.
  • Books. Ones that belong to the school, including library books that may be due.
  • Notices of Parent/Teacher Conferences will often require your signature acknowledging your acceptance of the assigned time.
  • Report Cards. Teachers appreciate having these returned promptly before they are lost or damaged.
Keep the backpack as light as possible to prevent back discomfort. Eliminate unnecessary items that can be kept at school in their cubbie or locker. It is best that they leave toys at home unless it is for Show & Tell. It is never too early to help your child learn responsibility and preparedness skills by keeping an organized backpack. And it may save you the time and gas it will take to retrieve the pet parakeet after it has hitched a ride in your child’s backpack.

Would you like a glimpse into Kindergarten? See Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents. Moms of Preschoolers - let me help save your sanity, one project at a time with The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn. Both have been number 1 bestsellers on Amazon and are available on Also available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo

Follow me by:

eMailTwitterGoogle+PinterestRSSYou TubeFacebook


  1. If only all parents would check their child's bookbag. We have an agenda that goes home from day 1. I wonder if some parent's even know it and it is the 122 day of school.

  2. I would like to add TOYS. Children don't need to bring toys to school. And there's a good chance the toy could be "lost" or "borrowed".

  3. Linda - that is a great idea. Toys can be so very distracting. Thank you!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.