It’s that time of year – getting smart about your back-to-school checklist

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(ARA) – The back-to-school bug is in the air as summer camps start to wrap up, teachers head back to their classrooms and parents start reviewing class lists for this year’s required school supplies.

But back-to-school doesn’t have to be a stressful season if parents and teachers prepare early and take advantage of deals and offers.

Here are some smart ideas for how to get organized this school year:

* Review the clothes closet. Your child has likely grown over the summer and may need some new items. Try everything on (including shoes), to avoid any last-minute surprises, and make a list of what you need to replace. Consider donating anything that doesn’t fit to a charity.

* Start planning your family schedule for the school year. Make it a priority to review how your children are getting to school, when they’ll be arriving back home, how they’ll get to any after-school activities and when they’ll have time to do homework. Taking the time to review the schedule as a family before the first bell rings will help to make sure the first day goes smoothly.

* Check the supplies list and start stocking up as soon as you can to avoid the last minute rush before school starts. Make sure your child has everything on their school supply list such as backpacks, binders, notebooks, and pencils.

Purchasing new school supplies doesn’t have to break the bank when you know how to find the right deals. Take advantage of penny specials being offered at stores like Office Depot beginning on July 26. You can find core supplies like pencils, rulers, glue sticks, folders, scissors and more for just $1 and under. Be sure to check the Sunday circulars in your local paper all summer long to learn about free promotions going on as well.

Need some help figuring out what’s hot for back-to-school this year before hitting the stores? Below are some of the top picks your children are going to love this school year (all back-to-school supplies are available at your nearest Office Depot).

* Project Backpack- A new backpack is one of the essentials kids need before heading back into school. For something totally unique, check out this backpack designed by 17-year-old Jerry Delgado, last year’s winner of Office Depot and Sharpie’s “Project Backpack” design contest. The music inspired backpack will have your kids singing down the hallways.

* HP G62 laptop computer – The start of school is a perfect time to purchase new computers. The HP G62 is great for everyday student needs and comes equipped with AMD Turion II Dual-Core processor, 3 GB’s of RAM, and a webcam and microphone.

* Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010- Students will want the latest version of Microsoft Office which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. It’s perfect for use throughout the school year.

* Ativa 4 GB flash drives – Flash drives offer a convenient way to access your documents anywhere. There are more than 40 patterns/colors to choose from (three styles available for No Fear flash drives).

* Mead fashion binders – Keep homework organized with fun new binders from Mead. Choose from various patterns such as candy colored stripes, retro flowers, or for alternative flair, the new punk plaid line.

Teachers need to get ready too. Network with fellow teachers and get ready for the school year at Teacher Appreciation Breakfasts being hosted at stores like Office Depot. While you’re there, stock up on all your back-to-school needs like pocket charts, notepads, bulletin boards, record books, nametags and other classroom supplies in the exclusive teacher aisles. For more info on teacher appreciation breakfast dates and times, visit

Courtesy of ARAcontent