10 Back-To-School Tips for Parents

  1. Adjust your child’s sleep schedule to match that of the school year two weeks before the first day of school.
  2. If you haven’t yet visited the school, visit the campus with your child. Practice the route the student will take to get to and from school each day.
  3. Ask your child to set three realistic goals for the upcoming school year. Write them down and post them somewhere frequently seen, such as the refrigerator or bathroom mirror.
  4. Encourage your child to make a few friends in each class, so that they have study partners and homework help for the entire school year.
  5. If your child has any specific needs, speak with your school prior to the first day. For instance, if your child does not have access to a computer or internet at home, let the school know ahead of time.
  6. Choose a backpack with padding on the shoulder straps and back. Encourage your child to always use both straps and to not carry too many items at one time. If you are in Chicago, CPS is offering free backpacks at a series of back-to-school events. If you are beyond city limits, reach out to your local school district to inquire about access to free backpacks.
  7. Encourage your child to read one book before the school year begins.
  8. Establish or find a space for your child to do homework everyday with limited distractions. Your local library may be an excellent option.
  9. Visit your family’s pediatrician for an annual wellness exam and physical. While there, make sure all of your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date. If you do not have access to a pediatrician or doctor, ask your local school district if it is offering free immunizations. For instance, CPS is offering free immunizations at a series of back-to-school events.
  10. Speak with your child about how to handle and report bullying both in-person and online. Encourage your child to not bully other children.

U.S. Department of Education Back To School Tips and Resources

Illinois Department of Public Health – School Health Program

Tips to Save Money on Back to School Supplies

Indiana Department of Education

Illinois State Board of Education – School Health Issues

Disaster Preparedness at School

Schools/Campus – Resources

Parents Encouraged to Include Emergency Preparedness in Back-to-School Plans

Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education

Guidance to States and School Systems on Addressing Mental Health and Substance Use Issues in Schools

Information on school health issues, such as guidelines, regulations, and forms.


Synthetic Drug Information:

Stats & Facts:

Curricula & Lesson Plans:

KidsHealth in the Classroom offers educators free health-related lesson plans for PreK through 12th grade. Each Teacher’s Guide includes discussion questions, classroom activities and extensions, printable handouts, and quizzes and answer keys all aligned to National Health Education Standards.

Other Resources:

  • Help Teens Make Healthy Choices – NIDA Toolkit for Counselors and Educators
    This evidence-based toolkit provides a complete array of resources and information to help teachers and other educators empower teens with the information they need to make informed decisions about drugs and drug use. The kit includes resources centered on three goals: educate students by giving them facts about drugs and their effects; empower students through activities that target critical thinking and decision making; and give educators the tools they need to identify students at risk. The toolkit is adaptable, with resources that are meant to be used together or apart.

School and Campus Health

SAMHSA supports efforts to promote mental health and substance use prevention in schools and on campuses and to provide safe learning environments.

Young people face a variety of life challenges that can affect their mental health and/or use or abuse of alcohol and other drugs. Schools and campuses should be safe havens for them to grow and learn. Both settings offer a number of mental health promotion and substance use prevention activities, yet America’s schools and campuses are facing challenging public health issues such as bullying, violence, alcohol use, and drug abuse.

Many children and youth want to feel well liked and included in a group, which can sometimes make them susceptible to bullying and peer pressure. Both behaviors can start as early as preschool and become an even greater risk as young people transition into middle school, high school, college, and beyond. There are a number of actions school staff can take to make schools safer and prevent bullying. SAMHSA’s KnowBullying app offers tools for parents and educators.

Underage drinking and associated problems have profound negative consequences for underage drinkers, their families, their communities, and society. SAMHSA’s underage drinking prevention campaign helps parents and caregivers start talking to their children early about the dangers of alcohol. While schools provide a number of programs and activities to promote emotional health and prevent substance use among students, they face unprecedented behavioral health challenges.

Federal Commission on School Safety (FCSS)

On March 12, 2018, President Trump established the Federal Commission on School Safety (the Commission), chaired by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to address school safety and the culture of school violence. The Commission will recommend policy and best practices for school violence prevention. The Commission is comprised of cabinet members whose agencies have jurisdiction over key school safety issues: Secretary DeVos, Attorney General (AG) Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex M. Azar II, and Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen Nielson. Within HHS, Elinore F. McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use works in collaboration with Secretary Azar on this Commission.

Ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of children is a top priority for HHS. Recent studies have shown that approximately one in ten children and youth in the United States experience a serious emotional disturbance, yet only 20 percent of those receive the help they need. Many of these children perform poorly in school and have difficulties at home and in the community. Furthermore, trauma, social isolation, and bullying are highly correlated with the development of serious emotional disturbance and rates of youth depression, anxiety, self-harm and most tragically, suicide are climbing.

Schools are on the front lines of addressing mental health conditions and are vital in identifying and supporting students with these conditions to improve student skill and functioning, promote healthy relationships, and reduce challenging behaviors and youth violence.

View the December 2018 report from the Federal Commission on School Safety detailing best practices and recommendations for improving safety at schools across the country.

HHS Resources for Department of Education Federal Commission on School Safety (PDF | 243 KB)

For more information on the Federal Commission on School Safety, please visit the FCSS webpage.

Related Links

Illinois Youth Suicide Prevention Toolkit

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