Happy New Schoolyear! Are you excited for school to start up again?

My son is starting First Grade this coming Monday, but my district started back up on August 6th. So, I’ve had a few weeks already to get situated, and hopefully I can give you some ideas on getting ready for heading back to school.

This is going to be a blog series, so I’ll have several posts on the back to school topic. First up, the top therapist tools you need to be prepared for this coming schoolyear.

Top 3 Therapist Tools for Back To School

And the results of my very unofficial poll are in. Here are the top three tools you need to start off your schoolyear.

1. A calendar or planner that works for you

Emphasis on the phrase “that works for you”. The previous schoolyear, I started with a regular (but pretty) planner, but abandoned it after a few months. It was easier for me to keep up with an electronic calendar, since the majority of my IEPs were scheduled via Outlook. I tried a Savor Daily Action Planner  last schoolyear, and loved it the first month. It had a weekly plan, and a daily to-do list and schedule, and really worked for me initially. Except that it was only for a month at a time, so I had to use my electronic calendar to input upcoming IEPs. Plus I realized that it would quickly become too expensive. I also tried the planner from MomAgenda. I liked it initially, but ended up abandoning it midway through the schoolyear. I think because it was a bit bulky, I would rather leave it behind than bring it with me.

This year I am starting out with the Bullet Journal system, since I love that it is so flexible! Basically it is a notebook and a pen, so it can be small and flexible, and I can adapt it as I go. You can customize the layout any way you want, adapted to the way I think. I’ve started a custom weekly spread that includes To Do lists for each school I am at. I still use my Outlook calendar for IEPs and treatments, but I need a place that ties in my to-do lists with my schedule, since I will be at different schools on different days. We’ll see how this spread works out for me, but if it doesn’t it is easy to change it to fit my needs as I figure those out. No need for perfection, just turn the page and change your mind!

2. A binder/file system

Every school-based OT needs a binder, or at least some sort of system to organize all their documents. I use my binder to keep track of all my schools. I have tabs for each school, and behind each tab I keep a copy of the following documents:

  • Bell schedule
  • School map
  • Staff roster/directory – includes room numbers/extension
  • Class schedules
  • Assessment plans & evaluation protocols & work samples — I keep these all together per student in a heavy-duty page protector. I transfer them into a folder once the IEP has been completed.

My colleague has a tab per student, and keeps work samples and treatment notes behind each tab. My husband (also a pediatric OT) also keeps his calendar in his binder, so some of his dividers are the months of the year. It just depends on what works best for you!

3. A rolling bag

A couple of years ago, I did not have a rolling bag, and my shoulder deeply regretted it. I should know better, I’m an OT, right? Last year, I used an old scrapbooking rolling tote (love the compartments) until the handle broke and gave way. I definitely needed  an even bigger one to cart around all my stuff. My colleague uses one of those rolling crates, but it is harder to bring it up and down stairs.  Another colleague uses a rolling sewing machine bag from a craft store. Currently, I am using a scrapbook rolling tote from Hobby Lobby, and it is working out great so far. I also really love this scrapbook rolling tote, it looks like it was built for a school-based OT!


So those are the basics that I would recommend you have when you start out the new schoolyear. What tools are essentials for you?


*Disclosure: Affiliate links used where possible. 

Top Therapist Tools for Back To School

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