Do you remember the days when you had the summers to roam free and you approached September with a mix of excitement and fear? There was a nervous energy surrounding the start of school; new teachers, old teachers, best friends, arch enemies, new subjects and homework.
The hardest part about transitioning from summer to school term is getting back into the swing of a routine, and we know a routine has a big impact on both children and teenagers as well as the grades they will achieve. With more than 4 million primary school children and 3 million secondary school children opening their textbooks and buckling down for another school year, it’s important to think about everything you need to do before they head back to school – that is if you want to take the stress out of your first week back.
Remember how the little things used to get to you when you went back to school. Everyone always assumed it was the new teacher or even a new school, but really a pair of shoes that fit would have made all the difference!
We petitioned the parents we know to come up with a checklist of things to do in the weeks leading up to the new school year so that both you and your child can head back with your best foot forward, ready to learn.
We’d love to hear what else you think is needed to make the seamless transition from summer fun to school term madness!
Back to school checklist
As adults we know that our choice of footwear for the day can make or break our afternoon meeting. Children are no different; they often walk to and from school and spend time milling around with friends at lunch.
Think back to the last time you had uncomfortable shoes on, what the first thing to go? Your ability to concentrate on anything! The same goes for your child.
Paying attention in class can be difficult generally but if they are wearing shoes that are a size or a few sizes too small is practically impossible. As you will know, children grow like weeds! One moment things fit, the next they don’t.
A few weeks before the school year begins, take the time to check that shoes fit and replace the ones that don’t. Some schools will insist on specific shoes, while others will specify colour or style, make sure you take comfort in mind when buying shoes and have them break new shoes in before the term starts – we also know how distracting blisters can be!
Children spend at least 30 hours a week in their school uniforms, some will spend double that if they get dressed for school in the morning and change into their PJ’s at night.
Having a uniform that fits is paramount to them being comfortable and limiting fidgeting in class. Uniforms that are too small cut off circulation to limbs, and can cause children to feel achy for no apparent reason.
We know uniforms can be expensive, but shopping at second hand uniform sales or finding local families to trade uniforms with can help cut down on the cost of replacing uniforms every year.
While a uniform that fits isn’t going to guarantee good grades, it’s one more thing you can check off the list of unnecessary distractions to avoid. Looking into this a few weeks before school starts means you won’t be frantically sewing name tags into items at 2am the night before the first school run.
At the start of every term, you’re be faced with the daunting task of making sure each child has the right kit bag, with the right equipment on the right day of the week.
If you have one child this can be more manageable, but if you have a small army of children (2 or more) this can be a tactical mission involving no small amount of organisation and attention to detail. Making a list of what needs to be in each kit bag and what days it needs to go into school, in advance, can be a life saver and is an opportunity to teach your children the life skill of taking care of their own belongings.
Last summer, £7.4 billion was spent on school supplies. A staggering number when you think of the current recession. But it’s a traditional part of the back-to-school hype.
Think back to when you were in year 7, having the latest pen set, brand new felt tips, a pencil case with the latest film stars or designer labels was a way to feel excited about your first day back.
Make this a fun process for your child by giving each child a budget and a list of items they needed for school. It will become a game for the children and mum can sit back and help with questions. Not only will the kids have what they needed for school, but there will be no room for arguments of “You didn’t get me the one I wanted” or “Johnny has the best pencil case, why didn’t you buy me that one?”!
Kick start a routine
Don’t wait till the night before school starts to put a routine back into place. It’s been said that if you can do something for 2 weeks, it becomes a routine.
Getting your kids to start gradually going to bed earlier each night and start laying out their clothes for the next day will help you avoid mass riots the night before school starts. Getting them up at a regular time for these few weeks is also helpful to combating the grumpy child routine on the first day of school.
Having discussions over dinner about what is happening the next day will help open up the lines of communication before you start asking about homework. Doing this over the summer means it feels like less of an interrogation when the school year starts!
Preparation the night before
We all know how manic the mornings can be with any number of children running around telling you they can’t find their trainers or musical instrument, so having a plan the night before mean the mornings take on a more relaxed tone.
Packing and checking school bags, making sure that a snack is in the fridge or on the counter ready to be popped into their bag and that any homework has been completed and is safely stowed away, makes life easier for everyone. This results in less calls from the school to inform you that Sally can’t participate in PE today, as all that was in her kit bag was her fairy princess dress!
Remember to breathe! Both you and the kids will be a little anxious about the new year starting so don’t think you’re the only one.
Keep in mind that your child will feed off of your anxieties and try to make it sound like as positive an experience as possible. You’ll be able to put your feet up at the end the first week, with a glass of wine in hand and know you’ve done all you can to get another year off to a good start!