Rising child star and mom share their top 5 tips for preparing to go back to school proud

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It’s that time of year again, when families start preparing their kids to head back to school. From basic supplies like folders and pencils, to technology, books and backpacks, each student’s needs for back to school change and grow each year.

LaRisa McCrary, along with her son, 12-year-old “The Lion King” actor and singer JD McCrary, share the top tips that they follow to help their family feel confident, proud and prepared to start the school year.

1. Always have a list

“My sons have busy schedules, so it’s a must to have a list to do our back-to-school shopping,” says LaRisa. “As your child moves up to the next grade, it’s important to spend time talking about the things that matter most to them on their list, not just trying to find all the items the school requires.”

For some extra help, parents can take advantage of Office Depot’s "School List with a Click" option. It taps into a database of millions of teachers' school supply lists and tells you exactly what your teacher recommends. Plus, when buying supplies online, you can choose to pick up your list purchases in-store at Office Depot — or have it all delivered to your front door the next day, giving you more time to prepare your kids for that first day of class.

2. Keep it fun, fresh and functional

In addition to discussing the shopping list, get kids excited about the upcoming school year by letting them pick out and customize their individual supplies. By allowing them to choose products that reflect their interests and personal style, back-to-school shopping is less of a chore and more of a fun, family outing.

JD describes how he and his brother Josh, 11, like to participate in back-to-school shopping with their parents: “We really love picking supplies that are colorful, cool and reflect our individual personalities.”

JD says his brother and parents looked to Office Depot this year to find exclusive back-to-school essentials and accessories like TUL® pens and notebooks, the Texas Instruments Graphing Calculator in teal, binders and backpacks that are rich in vibrant colors and trending styles to help make learning fun and fresh — while lasting the entire year.

3. Make learning fun outside of the classroom — and promote learning as a family

To help encourage active learning, whether in school or at home, LaRisa recommends Office Depot’s Juku STEAM kits, that provide fun, engaging hands-on projects and experiments to help kids develop creativity, discovery and problem-solving skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“These kits are a great way for JD and Josh to expand their minds with cool activities like robotics, game coding and designing art with a 3D printing pen,” explains LaRisa. “My husband Jay is going to have a blast creating these projects with the boys!”

4. Don't forget Mom and Dad

The kids aren't the only ones who will need some supplies to help them get ready for the new school year.

"Jay and I are on the go a lot and definitely need help to keep our family organized," LaRisa says. "While the kids check out the latest backpacks, Jay and I are picking up TUL® planners. They're perfect for keeping track of travel, school activities and daily to-dos."

5. Help others go Back To School Proud™

While planning and shopping for the next school year, the McCrarys have found that helping others helps everyone feel a little more grateful for what they have.

"We're fortunate enough that we can provide Josh and JD with new school supplies, so they can start the school year with confidence. Unfortunately, not everyone can do that," LaRisa explains. "When picking out supplies for your kids this year, why not pick out some extra items to give to others who may really need it?”

For example, Office Depot's "Give Back to Schools" program lets shoppers give five percent of their qualifying school supplies purchase back in credits toward supplies to a school of their choice. Shoppers can also participate in Office Depot's School Supply Drive by purchasing some extra supplies at the store to go to a local Title 1 school at the beginning of the school year.

To help your kids feel prepared and have an advantage in the classroom this year, visit OfficeDepot.com/backtoschool or stop by your local Office Depot or OfficeMax store to get everything on your list and more.

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