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Back-to-school checklist

The first day of school is rushing right at us.

Have you been busy preparing, or too busy enjoying the kids' time off?

"Parents enjoy the summer, too, and they don't want to think about school,'' said Stephanie Vozza, founder of Theorganizedparent.com and a mother of two school-age boys in Rochester, Mich. "Your head isn't there yet, but so many little things over the summer can make a huge difference.''

A checklist for tending to back-to-school tasks; there's still some time left:

PAPERWORK & APPOINTMENTS

Make well-visit appointments with the pediatrician if you didn't already do it for summer camp. Schedule eye exams and dental appointments. Bring along any necessary forms for the doctor's signature.

Athletics programs may require a physical on a short cycle, say only six months old, and many doctors will do a special "sports physical'' covering less ground if it's not time for an annual, Vozza said.

If your child is entering a new school, watch the mail for any back-to-school correspondence from the PTA or teachers. Also, make sure you've notified the people you've listed as emergency contacts.

Make haircut appointments.

For the college bound, grill your freshman on what paperwork is needed and when, from checkups to dorm assignments, then make sure deadlines are met.

Leanna Hamill, an attorney in Hingham, Mass., said parents of children over 18 should make sure their newly minted adult signs a health care proxy and a durable power of attorney for finances. The documents allow parents (or someone else the teen chooses) to have access to medical information or make medical decisions if the child can't. Once a child is over 18, none of his medical information can be given to a parent without permission.

SCHOOL CLOTHES & SUPPLIES

Shopping early makes sense for the best selection and helps to avoid sizes selling out.

Clean out your child's closets before you shop for back to school, or the old and beat up will be buried under the new and pristine. Begin sorting through closets about a month before school begins, and remember that the weather is usually still warm for a few weeks after classes start, Vozza said.

Back-to-school clothes are available early online and off, selling fast and furious over the summer. But parents often wait until sales begin, which is closer to the start of school. That can be risky for style-conscious kids. If yours couldn't care less what they wear, definitely wait, Vozza said.

The same goes for school and gym shoes, lunch boxes, backpacks and popular classroom supplies like the latest decorated notebooks and folders.

Grace Brooke, an organizing consultant in Sonoma County, Calif., suggests parents team up with other families to buy back-to-school supplies in bulk to save time and money.

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