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  • Writer's pictureSuzy Barrett

Last-minute tips for starting school

It’s the last weekend before the kids start school and your mind is racing like a hamster in a plastic ball. Have you done everything needed before they start? What if you’ve forgotten something? And despite your best efforts, why are they still going to bed so late!?

Don’t stress. Follow these tips and trust that everything will be OK….in the end. Just remember, the aim is not to compete with other parents or to show off on Instagram (unless you want to of course) but to save you and your kids a lot of stress. No one wants to start the day with raised blood pressure.

1) Bedtimes. Did you plan to gently ease them back into an early bedtime? Did that party, BBQ, general life get in the way? Don’t worry. After the first day at school chances are they will be absolutely shattered and fall into bed quite early. If it doesn’t happen on the first day, then by the end of the first week. Children are very adaptable and if they are tired enough, they will (in theory!) sleep earlier.

2) Check uniform and LABEL, LABEL, LABEL. Speaking as a teacher, your child WILL lose their uniform at some point. Even if little Johnny’s jumper falls into the swirling sea of lost uniform, if it is labelled then eventually it will wash up in the lost property box and be returned to its rightful owner. Label everything - water bottle, wellies, jumpers, lunch boxes. Never underestimate the ability of 30 5-year-olds all wearing the same uniform to mix almost everything between them. Also, kids sometimes get confused and make bold claims that something is theirs when it isn’t. There are often a lot of tears and confusion when this happens, so a simple label would help the teacher out as well.

3) Do everything the night before. It is a well-known scientific fact that time moves more quickly in the morning rush than it does in the evening. Save yourself a lot of stress by getting the uniform out (I do it while mine is in the bath), make up the lunch box if you have one (I do it while dinner is cooking) and get shoes and coat out by the front door.

4) After school, check the book bag/rucksack. Letters get shoved in there and half the time the kids don’t even know or remember or, let’s face it, care. Don’t ask them, just check.

5) Get on a parents WhatsApp group if there is one. I put mine on silent (sorry guys) as I don’t want constant pings, but I do check it regularly. You can guarantee that anything important will be discussed and things that you might have missed (eg how to register for milk money, and whip-rounds that are being organised etc) will be talked about at length. You can also ask any questions that you may have.

6) If you haven’t already, register your child for after school clubs, school dinners, milk, etc. Yes, I forgot, and I only registered my child for milk yesterday (the shame) and now he won’t have any until the second week but hey, at least I did it and we all mess up a bit don’t we?

7) Make a jar for coins. Every time you come across a pound coin or some loose change (not so often in these cashless, Covid times) pop it in the jar. That way, when your child asks for a pound for non-uniform day, or you need to contribute to something, you don’t have to rush to the nearest cash point before school and then break the note to get a blinking pound coin.

8) Get a basket for presents. Every time you are out, and you spot a bargain (and yes, even charity shop toys if they are in good condition) then buy it and pop it into the basket. Then, when you are sprung with a birthday party with very little notice you can dip into said basket and whip out a present. Same goes for birthday cards and wrapping paper.

9) Know the school calendar. As soon as you get some dates for events in the school calendar WRITE THEM DOWN. No, you will not remember, no you will not find out nearer the time. You will be that parent who has to ask everyone when the play/trip/harvest festival is, or worse, miss something. Just write them down as soon as you get them. Then you can rest safe in the knowledge that there won’t be any surprises in the coming year.

10) Have a good weekend. It’s the last weekend and your child/ren are probably a bit nervous about starting school. Take some time to really connect with them. Play the games they want to play, talk to them about any concerns that they may have and try to just relax. As tempting as it may be don’t say anything like ‘Ahhh I can’t believe you are starting school!’ or ‘I’ll miss you so much!’ just make it a positive and happy event. Perhaps a treat after the first day would be a good incentive for you all. We are taking my son to an unnamed fast-food chain that I swore I’d never take him to. Most of all, have a great first week back and I hope that my tips help you out.

Comment below if you have any more top tips.

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