Teachers, Do These 7 Things Now to Prepare for a Successful School Year

Students often wonder what their teachers do during summers off. If they only knew there’s rarely “time off”! Preschool teachers especially are experts at planning ahead, always thinking about what to do to make the upcoming year even better.  

Three preschoolers doing crafts in a preschool classroom.

Completing some of the items on the below Preschool School Year Preparedness Checklist can make for a smoother, more organized transition to the new school year. 

Begin Early Communications 

Little kids love receiving mail! At some point during the summer, consider sending incoming students an “I’m so excited to meet you!” postcard with a brief introduction. Doing this serves various purposes. At its core, it is a friendly hello meant to welcome children to class and allay any anxieties about the upcoming school year. It can also provide teacher contact information to establish an open-door policy. And finally, the postcards are gentle reminders to caregivers that their child is enrolled in the program and expected to attend.  

Touching base before school begins allows ample time for families whose circumstances have changed to communicate these changes. In turn, teachers are able to informally finalize their rosters and be better prepared for incoming students.  

Hit Up Garage Sales & Yard Sales 

Summer garage and yard sales are perfect places to find gently used and reasonably priced additions to the classroom. No matter the locale, be on the hunt for dramatic play items, new toys, and even pieces of furniture. Another great spot for affordable finds is thrift and consignment shops. Telling the seller you’re a preschool teacher looking to restock your classroom may drive prices down even further. Try it! 

Organize Classroom Stuff and Learning Spaces 

There are typically two types of preschool classrooms: those so beautifully coordinated they could grace the cover of a magazine and those that can only be described as semi-controlled chaos! Regardless of aesthetics, these tips help usher in a new school year by wrangling stuff and making the best use of available space: 

  • Over-the-door shoe organizers with clear pockets are great for storing loose art supplies, like markers and paintbrushes.  
  • Clearly labeled packing boxes are the perfect home for thematic materials such as gardening, space exploration, cooking, and various holidays.  
  • Color-coded supply caddies on each table or in the different learning centers keep everything in order and facilitate a quick clean-up. An added bonus is they look cute, too!  

Collect Craft Supplies 

Those toilet paper and paper towel rolls are preschool craft royalty—ask family and friends to hoard theirs for student artwork! Other continuously collectible ideas are recyclables, organizational bins or drawers, and old board games from which dice or timers can be salvaged. You know what they say: one man’s trash is another preschool teacher’s treasure!  

Prepare Student Desks  

To ensure each child has what they need to begin the school year, prep their desks ahead of time.   

In permanent marker, write names on laminated nametags and stick them to desks with Velcro. When students switch seats throughout the year, the change is effortless.  

Another desk prep tip is affixing straws to the desktop with sturdy duct tape. Students then slide their pencils into the straw for safe keeping!   

Finally, place a baggie with back-to-school supplies and important forms on desktops for students to grab on the first day. The supplies like scissors and glue sticks will stay in the classroom. Paperwork like teacher contact information and classroom procedures go home in the baggie with the children. 

Teacher Tip: create a few extra back-to-school baggies so they are on hand for students who enroll after the beginning of the year.  

Make Necessary Updates 

Completing annual updates at the end of each school year is a smart way to save time at the beginning of the next school year. Things like switching over bulletin boards and throwing away obsolete materials can be done before new students ever enter the classroom. It also makes sense to revise curriculum when the changes are still fresh in mind, as opposed to sitting on them all summer. 

Teacher Tip: look for references to popular culture to ensure they are still relevant and be mindful of certain verbiage. For example, updating “parents” to “grown-ups” is a thoughtful modification that can make a big difference for kids.  

Another great time-saver is creating and storing incoming students’ passwords for their online learning programs. The Clutter-free Classroom uses a genius hack to avoid the “I forget my password” scenario: each child has their own keychain with their passwords on it. The keychains are then hung up for little ones to easily access.  

Often, it’s not materials that call for updating, but classroom policies and procedures that need to be fine-tuned. Seemingly simple routines like lining students up for bathroom breaks or the way children are taught to ask for help can be streamlined to save a few minutes and improve efficiency.  

At the end of each year, reflect on where hiccups regularly occur in the classroom and make necessary adjustments.   

Prepare Instructional Materials 

Make the copies, finalize the lesson plans, laminate all the things! This kind of prep work takes up a lot of time when completed in one big batch, and time is not something teachers have in abundance once the school year begins. Taking a few hours here and there during the summer can alleviate a lot of the back-to-school stress, and it frees up precious time to focus on the children.   

A final Teacher Tip and perhaps one of the best ways to prepare for a successful new school year: find time to rest. Preschool teachers make more than one thousand educational decisions each day! Their brains and bodies certainly need to recharge. In between prepping classrooms and materials, teachers must prioritize their own wellness.   

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About the Author:


Stephanie Jankowski is an educator and author who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When she's not teaching or writing, she's spending time with her children, Brady, Ella, and Lyla, and marveling at just how short the years really are.