Getting ready for back to school? We’ve got your locker tips

Students at Hudson Bend Middle School crowd up to their lockers before classes start for the 2003 school year. Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman
Students at Hudson Bend Middle School crowd up to their lockers before classes start for the 2003 school year. Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman

Yesterday, we headed back to high school to get my son’s locker assignment and books. And then he made this comment … “I don’t know why I need a locker. I never use it.”

It’s true, after years of being a sherpa in middle school where he wasn’t allowed to have a locker, Ben never quite figured out how to use a locker last year in ninth grade. It became a place where a box of tissues lived, with a mysterious combination lock for which he often forgot the combination.

So, for Ben, and for all the kids who have access to a locker, here’s a guide on what to do:

  • Do use the locker assigned to you. (If you pick a random one, your lock might be cut off and your stuff removed.)
  • Do take a picture of the locker number and text it to yourself and your parents, or write down the locker number and keep it in your backpack. Sometimes on that first day of school or anytime there’s a break, you might forget which one is yours.
  • Do buy a combination lock. Schools often prefer the ones with the actual numbers rather than the down, up, right, left arrows or letters. It makes it easier for a trusted adult like a teacher or a parent to get in there and get your stuff and bring it to you if you should be out sick.
  • Do take a picture or text the combination to yourself and your parents. Again, if you forget the combination or need to send it to a trusted adult, you’ll have it.
  • Don’t keep anything of any value in your locker. Not money, not your phone. Those should be on you (with the phone turned off during school hours, of course).
  • Do use your locker. Your backpack weighs way too much to be lugging it around all the time. Carry only what you need for one class or for a set of classes if they are far from your locker.
  • When you get your schedule, make a plan of when you will stop by your locker. Do you have enough time after school to hit your locker one more time before the bus drives away? If not, plan on loading up everything before your last class of the day.
  • Do keep emergency supplies in there. Extra notebook paper, extra pens, extra batteries if your calculator has batteries, extra feminine hygiene supplies, extra deodorant and yes, facial tissue.
  • Do add hooks for hanging your backpack and coat. Make sure the hook is one of those that can hold your backpack, but be easily removed at the end of the year. Command makes some good ones.
  • Add a mirror if you like, and a shelf can be helpful to create a sense of order.

Don’t have a locker? Here’s how to limit the load on your back. Remember the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the backpack weigh no more than one-third your weight.

  • Consider separate A Day and B Day bags to carry only what you need for that day and not every class on your back.
  • Clean out your binders regularly and store things you’re not using right now, but might need before the midterm or final exam at home.
  • Think about how much your notebooks and binders weigh and choose lighter ones if you can.
  • Use a light-weight pencil bag to not have all the pencils and pens become a heavy mess at the bottom.
  • Pack only what you need for class that day. Leave the rest at home.

Find more back to school tips at, including ways to save money on school suppliesour school supplies comparison shopping and the 10 things you need to do before school starts.


Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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