Back to School Checklist for Moms ( and Dads ) – What to Buy and Prepare for your Child with Special Needs

Inside: Get the complete back-to-school checklist for moms ( and dads ) for your children with special needs.

Walking home from school with my son who was then in grade three, we had this conversation.

Me: How’s your school, son?

Him: Yeah, I showed my best friend my school bag with 3 pockets!

He was always excited to show off his bag to his classmates on the first day of school. Even if his dad bought it from the thrift store, he was always happy to show off.

I’m sure, we parents are now eyeing at-sale school items in the department stores. I prepared this back-to-school checklist for moms ( and dads ), so it’s easier for you to check off what still needs to be bought or prepared.

School opening is barely a month away and we need to be ready. Maybe some of you have bought the school stuff, but in case you have forgotten some items, I hope my list will help you figure out what is missing.

In the meantime, while summer is still around, let us just enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Do some camping, day trips, go to the park, bike around the neighborhood, tend your garden, and all other activities for the summer. 

Related post: How to Prepare for Camping with a Special Child

You also need to let your special kids and all your kids do some homework every day, so they don’t forget their school stuff and they will be ready for the opening. Like letting them do reading and some math problems every day. 

Will it be the first time for your special kid to go to school? He should be excited to meet new friends and his teacher every day. For those who will be continuing with school, I’m sure they are eager to see old classmates and friends. 

Here goes the list…. grab a pen and paper so you can jot down the most important ones or the things that you still need to buy.

This post contains affiliate links. Read the full affiliate disclosure here.

Click here to buy the school essentials for your special child

1. Adaptive stroller

  • If your child is still non-ambulatory or is walking but gets tired easily, this is really essential.
Getting ready for school, in adaptive stroller
Ready for first day of school


The school bus is here!
Riding the school bus is a breeze with the adaptive stroller with a transit  tie-down.
  • These strollers are usually what they sit on in the classroom as well, so choose properly with the help of his therapist or rehabilitation doctor.

Click here for some choices of adaptive strollers

2. School bag

  • This is very important as well. 
  • You have to consider a few things though. If your child has attended school the previous year, you might not need to buy a new one if his bag is still useful.
  •  I know kids always want something new, but if you feel his old one still looks okay, a little talk with your kid might be all you need to let him know that he doesn’t need a new one.
  • Anyway, if you’re ready to purchase a new one, keep some things in mind before buying. How big does your child need for his bag? Big enough to put his sweater or jacket in winter?
  •  Will his lunch bag plus some school essentials like his planner and pencil case fit in comfortably?
  • How heavy will it be with all the essentials in there? Think of his back for all the time that he will be carrying his bag. Is it a long walk from his classroom to the parking lot or to the bus stop?
  • Does he need just a back pack or a school bag with wheels?

Please see some choices below. Click the image to see the price.

Back to school checklist, Disney Pixar Cars backpack

Back to school checklist, Pink unicorn backpack
Back to school checklist, Lego batman backpack



Click here for more choices of backpacks

3. Lunch bag/kit

  • The size will depend on how many hours is your special child staying in school or the time of his class. 
  • If he is in school for just 2 hours, more or less, then he needs to bring in snacks only but if his school time is done just about lunchtime maybe you need to pack lunch for him.
  • Consider packing a crunchy snack because chewing is great for reducing stress and is a good concentration tool.
  • Of course, during recess, your special child needs to eat something to reward him for a good day or to sustain his interest to learn his lessons.

  Look at these awesome lunch bags that your kid might love.  Click the image to see the price.

Back to school checklist, Insulated lunch bag



Back to school checklist, Insulated lunch bag


4. Water bottle

  • A 2-glass water bottle is also an essential part of his bag. He needs to be hydrated at all times so he will not be sluggish and will continue to be receptive to the day’s lessons.
  •  After a hectic or active day, your special child needs to drink his juice or plain water ( the healthier option ), so be sure to fill his water bottle to the brim!
  • Make sure to buy a BPA and PVC-free water bottle that has leak proof lid with a cap.

Here are some awesome water bottles, click the image to see the price

Back to school checklist, Mickey Mouse water bottle

Back to school checklist, Paw patrol water bottle

Back to school checklist, Heart flowers bottle

5. Pencil case

  • Choose something that is spacious enough to fit in his pencils, markers, and sharpeners.
  • Your special child will love opening and using a pencil case with designs that he loves like animal prints or his favorite cartoon character.
  • Having a pencil case will teach your special child to organize his stuff and put them back properly where they belong. This develops his responsibility. 

  Here are some choices. Click the image to see the price.

Back to school checklist, Disney Minnie Mouse Pencil Case

Back to school checklist, DC Comics superhero pencil case

6. Pencils, markers, and crayons

  • Buy as many as you can.
  • Your special child may just be starting to scribble or just beginning to learn how to hold a pencil, but the more choices he has, the more chances of getting him excited to do his part in learning how to write.
  • If possible, buy the big grip pencils and crayons or markers.

 Here are some choices. Click on the image to see the price.

Flexible bendy pencil, soft pencils with eraser, magic bend toys

Crayola colored pencils

  • You can also buy some additives that will be useful for your special child such as these  pencil grips for perfect grip for him to be inspired to write or scribble as much as he can.
  • These are useful even if the pencil is small.


Click the image to see the price ( pencil grips and erasers )

Pencil holding grips, silicon pen writing aid

Emoji erasers, erasers for kids



  • Your child’s teacher or school might have these items provided, but it is still best to buy so your child will have something to use at home for his homework or just for practice.  

7. Notebooks

  • Buy those with beautiful covers that your child with special needs would love to open time and again. Designs that would let him smile and giggle and get him inspired to write down because his favorite animal or cartoon character is in the cover.
  • Those with lines are the most essential ones so your child will learn how to write with proper alignment. If possible choose notebooks with three lines, so he will be guided how to write big and small letters properly.
  • These colorful notebooks will delight your special kids.

  Click the image to see the price

Primary composition notebook.

Primary composition notebook

More choices here.

8. School shoes ( and socks )

  • Find shoes that are most comfortable on his feet. You would not want your kid to be coming home limping with sore ankles because his shoes is too tight that he develops a blister after a day’s wear.
  • They should  just be the right size so your child can run or walk without difficulty while playing in the playground or doing tag with his friends and classmates.
  • Socks that will allow his feet to breathe  properly even in winter are a must. Buy socks that he can wear depending  on  the weather outside.

   Click the image to see the price for some choices of  girls’ and boys’ sneakers/ shoes.


Back to school checklist, Skechers boys ULTRAPULSE sneakers

Back to school checklist, Reebok smooth glide running shoes


9. Sweaters/ Pull overs

  • Always let your child wear a sweater or a pullover on top of his shirt because it will usually be cold outside once school starts or put it in his bag if it is warm, so he can wear it if the weather changes.
  • This is really important if your special one still cannot express his feelings.
  • Again, sweaters with awesome designs will become a favorite of your kid. Also, match the color of his sneakers with his sweater. 

Click the image to see the price of the awesome sweater  your special one will love to wear on the first day of school.


Bluepop 3-D printed hoodie sweatshirt, rainbow tie dyeAmazon essentials big girls fleece zip-up hoodie

SummitLink girls rainbow dash hoodieIYOWEL 3-D printing hoodies

Click for  more choices here.

10. Clothes and accessories

  • If there is no uniform in the school that your child goes to, you may need to buy a few set of clothes especially those that he can wear and show off on the first day or week of school. 
  • He will always be proud showing off to his teacher and classmates a blouse or shirt with his all-time favorite cartoon character  or a shirt which is his favorite color.

Click the image to see the price.

Girls cotton tees, short sleeve tees    Cartoon owl long sleeve t-shirt, tee tops for teen kids, girls pullover soft clothes 

TEXFIT 2-pack athletic kids boys long sleeve shirt

Click here for more choices of clothes for your girl with special needs

Click here for more choices for your boy with special needs

  • Your little girl’s hair will be pretty either tied or with an awesome bow.

Click the image to see the price.

Back to school checklist, Grosgrain ribbon hair bows

Back to school checklist, Goody girls elastic hair ties

  •    A cute beanie hat ( and mitts ) for your little boy or girl that can match his or her backpack and shirt will be useful to keep his or her head safe from some cold or draft at the start of fall.

Click the image to see the price.

Back to School Checklist, Disney Frozen Anna & Elsa Beanie Knit Hat & Gloves set


Back to school checklist, Star Wars Boys beannie hat with gloves





11. Calming toy or pillow

  • Let him bring to school his favorite toy or pillow for calming effect especially if it is his first time to attend school. This will really be helpful to allay his fears and anxiety. 
  • You can allow him to bring it to school on the first day or week or the whole school year whichever he prefers. 
  • Your special child will be more focused with his school work if he has these handy.

If you are planning to buy, read some suggestions here.

Click the image to see the price of the calming pillows

Cuddle ball knot pillow, sensory pillow

Is your special child ready for school?

There you go, my dear parents, have you looked into the list of school essentials that your little one needs for his first day of school? Did we forget anything? 

Anyway, most of the time, kids want to show off to their classmates or teachers their new backpacks, new clothes, new pencil case, etc, so I suggest buying him something new, even though some are recycled from last year or the previous years or maybe hand me downs from older siblings or cousins.

 I remember when my son was in elementary, even though we just buy his schoolbag from the thrift store, he was so excited to show off his “new” backpack to his friends and he was proud to show off how many pockets it contains, the awesome design, etc. 

I guess even our special kids would love to show off their stuff to their teachers and classmates, so as parents, let us try to be aware that this is something that our kids get excited about in school.

We don’t want him to hate his school bag or lunch bag that would ruin his enthusiasm to go to school every day.

There’s this excitement or some fear on the first day of school that ” something new, ”  especially if it’s his favorite toy, marker,  shoes,  top, or bag, and if his classmate or friend also likes it, it will be a big factor for your special child to have a reason each day to get excited to come back to school every day.

Let the start of school be something that your special one will look forward to with an AWESOME school essential.

Click here to order your school essentials.

Look at this back-to-school checklist again so you won’t forget anything.


Back to school checklist

Happy shopping!


Originally published: August 27, 2019                                   Updated: August 12, 2023


What is your special child’s favorite cartoon character that he wants for his backpack?  Have you bought or prepared all the essentials for his school this year?

As parents, are you excited that your special one is up to another school year of learning and discovering new things?

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30 thoughts on “Back to School Checklist for Moms ( and Dads ) – What to Buy and Prepare for your Child with Special Needs”

  1. My kids are long grown up and out of school, but my grandson is facing carrying a backpack and all the necessary things inside. Thanks for your reminder of the things not to forget!

    He was never big on stuffies, but since he is older a comfort toy means more to him now! Even adults like special pillows for reading in bed, etc.

    I still have art supplies from when my kids were in school. One box full of colored pencils and more, and another with 48 crayons. The large size crayons and pencils are easy to grasp.

    They also need a supportive teacher, which you can’t supply, but by keeping in close, supportive contact with the teacher, you can hopefully have a good relationship between the teacher, parent, and child all year!

    Here is to September!!

    • Hi Carolyn,

      You’re right, a supportive and patient teacher to our children with special needs really matters. And of course, open and constant  communication between parents and the teacher will help a lot with how the kids will learn and develop their fullest potential.

      I hope your grandson is all ready for the school opening.

      What grade is he in?


  2. Thanks for this article, as this article I am sure will be helpful for those parents who have special needs children. The article also showed the reader with links to where to go to purchase the items listed. Very good article and very helpful for those with special needs. Additionally, the article was a great reminder that we should remember that returning to school is a hectic time, but probably more so for children and parents of these special needs individuals. Thank you for the article. 

    • Hi Mollie,

      You’re right, going back to school is a busy time for parents, especially moms and a checklist of the school needs of our special kids is a must, so nothing is forgotten.

      If we start right with all the necessary stuff for our kids, they too are excited to go back with their routine of going to school.

      Thanks for reading.


  3. Hi Marita, Thanks for your informative post! I really liked the idea of having something crunchy for the child as a stress reliever. I can easily imagine that as being a help to some anxiety. If the child has to sit in the stroller all day, it would need to be a comfortable one, or they could get sore from it, I would suppose.

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Yes, we have to be always sensitive  to our kids’ discomfort, thus, we need to be aware that they also need to be as comfortable as possible.

      Thanks for reading.


  4. Thank you for back to school check list. With the pandemic, many people are confused what to get for school and to be honest even scared to send their child to school. I hope one day everything can go back to normal where no one needs to be scared of the virus. Most the items you mentioned are must haves.

    • Hi Bernard,

      Yes, these are still scary times.

      In our place, most of the students are going to school full-time ( at least the high school students )  this Spring. 

      Our COVID cases are somewhat controlled, so hopefully, with school opening next week, cases will not surge.

      And yes, even though our students will be homeschooled/ with online schooling, they will still need most of the school stuff.

      Thanks for reading.


  5. Hello there! 

    This is an amazing post you have got here. For sure it will help other readers it as it has helped me at the moment. 

    I just hope and pray school opens as soon as possible so these kids can go back face to face with their classmates and teachers.

    For me, this online and home classes is doing less.

    • Hi Joy,

      I know, online classes is a new thing that students find challenging and less motivating.

      My son who is in high school really struggles with his homework because he gets so distracted with online games.

      Thanks for reading.


  6. Love the read!

    This is great for schools reopening. 🙁 Unfortunately my kids are doing home school again this year. Yay! This will definitely help prep for homeschooling too! They will need the basics but this article will help structure the lightest of back to school needs!

    My opinion is this will most definitely help any parent in any given situation!

    • Hi Naomi,

      Thanks that I’m of help. Lucky that your kids are able to spend time with you in their homeschooling.

      God bless,


  7. Wow! My wife will really appreciate this. We are preparing George and Lola for school, and it will be Lola first time in school. So you should understand when I say this post came very much at the right time. I think that v-neck long sleeve will fit my boy really well. Thanks for taking time to write on this Marita.

    Kind regards!

    • Hi Jordan,

      Thanks for reading. Happy that I’m of help.

      Good luck to George and Lola on their first day of school.

      God bless,


    • I understand how challenging it could be to parents of kids with special needs. Your article is so helpful – very detailed and giving all the info there is so back to school could be stress-free and something to look forward to with excitement!

      I’d share this for sure to my friends and family. Wish you all the success!

      ❤ Odette

      • Hi Odette,

        Thanks for reading and sharing.

        A back to school checklist definitely helps the parents in preparing and checking for completeness of the school supplies and just like you said, they will become stress-free and excited to start school again for their kids with special needs.

        God bless,


  8. Hi,

    Thanks for this great article about back to school checklist for the child with special needs. 

    With this article, all the parents will get help, not only the parents whose children have special needs. Like I have two kids, and for next week their school is going to be open after 6 weeks holiday. So from the last two weeks, I was busy for their back to school shopping but one thing I totally forgot which I just remember when I saw this post-my son’s backpack. 

    Thank you so much for this article by giving us some reminder. I am gonna place this order now.

    • Hi Nazmun,

      A backpack is a must! Yes, we forget some important things because we are so busy.

      Glad that my article helped to remind you.



  9. Hello Marita, 

    This is a very good list for all students including those with special needs. 

    I find that every child really likes to show off their new stuff when they first resume school. It’s a good idea to buy the new stuff. Students have not resumed here so it’s great timing.

    I will be buying some of these stuff. I like the water bottle and the tops too. Nice one here.

    • Hi Henderson,

      Children like to show-off, they feel important when other kids appreciate their stuff or their clothes. It boosts their confidence and they need that on the first few days of school, especially if it’s their first time.

      Thanks for reading.


  10. Hi. Very good content on this article. I have two boys who have grown up now and they were a nightmare to get to school and they were forever forgetting everything. It must be difficult when dealing with special needs children as the world around them must be a very confusing place. I think that the information you offer will go a long way towards making other people understand frustrations around the subject as well as offering support for parents and children in this situation. 

    Are you going to offer other lists on different subject matter. Maybe you could elaborate on to social aspects and problems in the everyday environment. It was very interesting to read.

  11. Excellent article this is and I’m glad I came across this post. 

    This is not just meant for the parents alone, but also for uncles like us who wants to support our relatives with kids that have special needs. 

    I will suggest this post to my cousin who has a kid with down syndrome and autism. Thanks for this.

  12. One of the things, I think you missed is a hardness for the school bus. My daughter tends to run around a lot but she has issues with PT or OT. She needs to stay still on the bus.

    You might want to recommend the school bags something that has weight. But, it is so interesting that you have mentioned the whole weight vests.

    • Hi Liz,

      Did you recommend harness? I will look into that. 

      The Trotter lighweight adaptive stroller mentioned in this  post ( linked internally as well ) has a transit or school bus tie-down. But if you mean kids who don’t have special needs stroller , who are able to walk and just needs something to keep them still in the school bus, I will try to look into that. 

      The school bags with weight or wheels as mentioned is optional if the kid can handle them properly.

      The weighted vests are really helpful to calm anxious kids.

      Thanks for the helpful comments.


  13. I can appreciate how a child with special needs could have mixed feelings about starting a new school year. A friends child suffers from terrible anxiety and she HATES leaving her old teacher / old class room / old class mates and having to adjust to a new school year is just AWFUL for her. Sometimes it can take her upto 6 months to adjust to the “new” and just when she is 100 comfortable, talk of change starts all over again. I noticed that you recommend purchasing a “comfort pillow/ calming toy” I was just wondering what other tips do you have for settling them into the school year?

    • Definitely a calming toy or pillow would help, as well as the weighted vest. 

      Her parents need to talk to her weeks before the school starts again and even at home, they could start doing school works so she would be somehow adjusted to school by the actual start date.

      If the parents can identify their child’s friend or school buddy ( the previous year ) and bond with them 1-2 weeks before start of school, like set up a playdate, that would help as well. And if they can talk to the teacher that they be seated side by side, that would be best.

      Maybe the parents need to talk to the new teacher as well, to take it easy with the kid and be very patient, so she will not be embarrased or be very anxious. 

      if the child is really young and the teacher allows it, a parent can sit-in in the classroom maybe for the first 1-2 weeks to ease the kid’s transition.

      Giving positive comments and some rewards will be very helpful as well, so the child will be inspired to go to school everyday.

      Thanks for your comments!


  14. Hi Marita,
    I’m lucky to have 2 regular kids who have already grown up. I wish your checklist could be available some years before, Your article reminds me those old days when my kids always missed bringing somethings back to school.
    Thanks for sharing this great post and keep it up!


    • Hi Brian,

      Yeah, you are lucky your kids are all grown up. Gone are the busy days, where parents need to prepare everything for their kids, that’s why I made this checklist for the young parents out there especially for those who have children with special needs.

      Thanks for reading.



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