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Whether it’s the first day of kindergarten, or the first year of college, the end of August means one thing: back to school shopping. Here’s how to ace the lists and send your kids to school with all the right stuff.

Write it down

Before you shop, sit with your child and discuss what they’ll need to go back to the classroom. For younger children, this can help them prepare mentally for getting back into the swing of the daily routine. For college kids who are leaving home for the first time, it will also give them the opportunity to start thinking about their big move and talk to you about their feelings. Brainstorming together will not only result in a to-do list, but also will help to keep you focused, as well as alleviate any anxiety your children might have.

Online vs. in-store

Since you can get practically everything online, this is a viable option for handing your list of school supplies. If this is the easiest route for you, start a few weeks early to make sure your orders arrive on time. For many families though, back to school shopping is a tradition. Don’t forget to shop flyers and coupons. Securing school supplies is a multi-million-dollar business, so why not score deals if you can.

Example: If you’re sending your child off to college for the first time, it’s important to know the twin beds at most dorms require extra-long twin sheets. Waiting until the last minute will cut down on your choices, so shop early.

Teach organization

If you put some real thought into organization at the start of the school year, you’ll help both you and your child. Have a family discussion about the best way to handle their back packs and sports equipment, after school activities, snacks and homework. Making them part of the solution will offer you a blueprint you can turn to when the going gets off-track. Make sure you’re not only helping with your child’s organization, but also your own. Create a nook where all the school papers can be filed (and not forgotten) and a calendar where events can be written down.

Preparing for the school year can be overwhelming, but if you give yourself enough time and include your kids in planning the new school year, you’ll be setting yourself up to get through the year with flying colors.