It's almost that time of the year again – September – when the new school year begins. When it's time to bid adieu to the fun and sun (if we're lucky) of summer and get back into the routine of school-runs, after-school clubs and homework.
There's a fair amount of preparation to be done in the days before school starts – ESPECIALLY if your child is starting school (reception). If you're a tick-off-the-to-do-list kind of mum, then you're probably half way there, so just take this post as a checklist. However, if you're a I'll-do-it-at-some-point kind of mum, then it's time to wake up and well, start doing it, because little by little, it does become a lot!!!
Check you've got all the essentials
By essentials, I'm meaning uniforms, water bottles, snack boxes, stationery, school bag, book bag and the lot.
Buying uniforms is not just about going to the shop and picking it out. You've GOT TO make your child TRY it on and see that it's a good enough size to last him or her for at least the next few months (kids grow at an alarming rate) – it should be comfortable and fit well, but still have that little room for growth. Then you need to figure out how many full sets you will need – spares, because kids come home with food stains/ playground mud/ paint – plus an extra spare to keep at school.
Then there's the PE kit and the Forest School kit. The warm weather versus cold weather items of clothing – shorts and jumpers. And the shoes. Don't buy new shoes a day before school starts – let your child wear them a couple of times before to make sure he is comfortable in them and also let him practice putting them on and off.
Tip: Most of us tend to buy the uniforms at the start of the holidays in June, so we don't have to run around like headless chickens a week before school starts. But – especially if your child is younger – don't! You'll be surprised how many inches they grow in one summer vacation. Wait till mid-August for uniform shopping – that still leaves you with a good two to three weeks and plenty of time to get things in order.
Label, label and label
I know, I know, I feel your pain mums. We all hate this part, right? But it's essential to label EVERY ITEM your child takes to school because at some point they will loose it or it will land up in a classmate's bag or they will come home wearing someone else's jumper. And after the fourth time, it's not funny, just expensive!!!
From jumpers to bags to water bottles, stick a name on it. It will help your child identify his things more easily, and save you loads of money in the long run.
I use the My Nametags labels – from iron-ons to stickers, there's an option for all kinds of things and Little Man loves personalising them. You can read my honest review about them here.
Set and practice the school routine
This is especially important if your child is just starting school, because it's going to be quite different from their nursery or pre-school. Set a routine (bedtime/ wake-up time/ morning) and implement it at least a week to ten days before school starts, so he can get used to it. If your child is older and already has a school routine, again, implement it a week before school re-opens. You can't expect him to wake up at 7 am sharp after six weeks of waking up at lazy hour!
If your child is starting school…
If your little one is starting reception this year, then there's a lot more you need to get done before 'big school' begins. It's more about getting your child mentally and physically prepared for the changes ahead. Here's a checklist of things that you can do to prepare your pre-schooler for proper school.
- Talk to them about the imminent changes and what to expect from 'school'
- Start the school routine well in advance (at least two weeks before school reopens) – that includes early bedtimes and wake times, getting dressed in time, and if possible even do the walk/ drive to school so you know exactly how much time it takes.
- Doing the journey to school a couple of times also familiarises your child with this part of the routine.
- Other areas that you can ready your child in are making sure they are potty trained, can dress and undress themselves, making them practice carrying a tray and eating with a fork and knife and to recognise and write their own name. Knowing all this will make their first few days at big school a lot easier.
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