What Kids Need to Know About School Lockers

Having a locker is a milestone for a middle schooler

Students talking near a school corridor
It's a good idea to have your tween clean out the locker once a week. Don Mason/Blend Images/Getty Images

One of the highlights of starting middle school is getting your locker. If your child hasn't had to use a locker before, here's what he or she needs to know.

School Locker Location and Locks

  • The school will assign a locker to your child at the beginning of the year. Depending on the size of your child's class, he or she may have to share a locker with someone else.
  • If your child is worried about finding his locker, suggest that he or she look for a landmark, such as a clock or a restroom door, to help. Your tween should keep the locker number written down on a scrap of paper and in a wallet or pocket until she remembers the locker number. If she carries a mobile phone, she can take a photo of the location and enter a note or mark it on a map.
  • If your school uses combination locks, you may have your child practice with one so she is familiar with how to operate one. Help her memorize the locker combination as soon as possible. Try to find a clever way for your tween to remember the numbers. These can also be entered in a note on a mobile phone.
  • If your child has to share a locker with someone else, it would be a good idea to discuss locker decorations with that person before undertaking any major decorating ideas.

Storage Tips for School Lockers

A school locker is primarily used to store coats, books, and other school supplies. Here are additional tips on what should and shouldn't be kept there.

  • A girl should keep a menstruation kit in her locker, in case her period arrives without warning.
  • Lockers aren't refrigerators or pantries. Food items should not be stored in the locker, except for your child's lunch. Discuss how food can attract pests such as ants, cockroaches, and even rats. It's also a good opportunity to discuss food safety and the importance of keeping some items refrigerated while others are safe at room temperature.
  • Lockers aren't the place to keep valuable items or a lot of cash. Your preteen can keep an extra $5 or $10 in the locker to pay for lunch or emergency school supplies from the school store, but avoid keeping jewelry, expensive sporting items and other valuables there.
  • A small box can keep emergency items all in one place so they can be easily located.
  • Make sure your tween keeps a few extra school supplies in the locker, such as notebook paper, pens, pencils, and composition books.
  • Gym clothes should be brought home as soon as possible, in order to keep the locker smelling fresh and clean. Encourage your tween to bring gym clothes home at the end of every week for laundering. This is a good opportunity to discuss hygiene.

Problems With School Lockers

  • The key to keeping a locker organized is to clear out unwanted papers, tests, and other items at least once a week.​
  • School lockers have a habit of getting stuck, especially if the locker is stuffed with items. Your tween should never attempt to force a locker open or closed because that could bend the locker door and make operating it even more difficult. If your child's lock sticks, be sure your tween knows to contact the school maintenance staff for assistance. The school janitor may be able to easily fix a stubborn combination lock with a little lubricant.

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