Getting Ready to Go Back to School

Autumn is around the corner and when you’re young there’s nothing better than the smell of fresh pencils and the excitement of seeing all your friends again after the long summer holidays. However, as a parent (and perhaps even as a child, if you are starting at a new school for the first time or are just nervous about what the upcoming term holds) late August and early September can be filled with hectic days trying to get everything together after the relaxation of the summer.

School pencil case items

Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to compile a few tips to help sort things out as quickly and easily as possible. Some of these tips might need a little tweaking depending on the age of your child and the year of education that they are entering, but hopefully there will something useful in here for everyone.

Use supermarkets for clothes

You can’t go wrong with buying some of the basic generic uniform requirements as cheaply as possible. The sort of items I have in mind are plain white t-shirts for P.E., or simple white shirts to go underneath jumpers with the school logo. Even things like plain grey (or black) skirts and trousers are now available at a very reasonable price in many of the supermarkets and they are well-made, robust and just as importantly, easy to care for and wash.

Look out for offers - often advertised quite well around the store - with which you might be able to pick up items with a discount or as part of a multi-buy deal. It’s really handy to be able to get these things while doing your food shopping, as it removes the need for a specific uniform shopping trip and the clothes will be easy to return if necessary.

Second hand sales for old uniform (or hand-me-downs from friends / neighbours)

Second hand sales and hand-me-downs are a brilliant way to get your hands on some of the required uniform that’s in very good condition. You may still end up having to buy a few of the items with the school logo on at a specific shop (which unfortunately will probably not be especially cheap) but hopefully you will be able to keep these costs down as much as possible by considering other options alongside it.

Make an appointment if visiting a shoe shop

Most parents will do the sensible thing and wait until the latest possible moment before investing in new school shoes for their child, in order to make sure that the shoes will fit for as long as possible. However, this can mean that you will end up waiting for quite some time to see a fitter, so pop in to your nearest shop shop or call up in advance and make an appointment at a time to suit you and your children.

Keep eyes peeled for sales on lunchboxes, pencil cases, etc.

Other than uniform, there are a few other bits and bobs that your child may need, depending on what their school has recommended. In the same way that school uniform items may be discounted as part of a promotion, other back-to-school items such as lunchboxes and pencil cases may well be on sale in the run-up to the start of the new term. Again, these can often be picked up at your local supermarket, but other stockists may be worth a visit as well.

Read books about starting school with your child

There are more than just practical considerations to be made when it comes to starting school. It is a huge milestone for young children and their families and therefore it is worth putting some time in to ease the transition for everyone. Your child is likely to have had a taster session at their new school, but given that it will have been over a month since this took place, you could also read some of the many books about starting school together. This will give your child a chance to ask questions about what’s going to happen and to discuss any worries beforehand. This blog post has a few suggestions about books that are both enjoyable and helpful.

Get back in touch with your children’s friends

If possible, organise a few play dates prior to the commencement of the new term, so that your children can catch up with their friends and refamiliarise themselves with the people they will be seeing again so regularly. This will also hopefully give you and the other parents a chance to chat as well, so that you can discuss any issues that might be niggling away - most parents worry about the same things and it can be very comforting to get these out in the open. You might even be able sort out a bulk uniform order and save on postage costs, or organise a car pool for lifts to and from school.

Make the transition as smooth as possible

The chances are that everything will have been a little more relaxed over the summer holidays, so it can be quite a shock to get back to the rush of the early morning school run. It might help to have a few practise early mornings in preparation, so that everyone knows what they have to do (and when) in order to be ready on time. Set routines for you and your children so that there is no need for a daily discussion about what should be happening, allowing you all to relax as much as possible.

This will be comforting for your children and will give them the chance to be more independent, as they will quickly be able to take on certain tasks themselves. Be kind to yourself the first week back and plan easy meals for the evening - the chances are that you’ll all be exhausted. Before you know it though, you’ll be back in the swing of things and wondering why you ever worried... Well, that’s the theory, anyway!