The back to school list
Every parent receives that list. You know the one we mean. The list that dictates exactly what your child will need at the beginning of the new school year. What does the list contain? Your basics really; school uniform, school shoes, PE kit, book bag…the staples. But what about the list that no one tells you about? And what about the back to school advice, tips and hacks that you might be completely in the dark about? OK. Just breathe parents. We’re here, with the help of some very experienced friends, to make things a lot easier for you.
Going back to school can be a blessed relief after a long summer break. Parents can get back into the swing of things and kids can be reunited with their classmates. But it can also be daunting. If your little ones are starting school for the first time, they are about to embark on a whole new journey unlike anything they have ever done before. You can expect tears – from them, as well as you – as well as possible feelings of separation anxiety.
How to make going back to school as easy as A, B, C
To ensure that you have the best advice to settle those back to school nerves (for you and the kids), we have enlisted some expert help. Parenting bloggers have become a beacon of light for many of us, who seek advice about our parenting style, children’s behaviour, which products to buy, and what family friendly activities are worth the hype. Not only that, they also make us feel perfectly normal, and that parenting isn’t always as easy and fun as TV shows and adverts make out.
Parenting bloggers to the rescue
When it came to writing this back to school advice post, we couldn’t think of anything better than reaching out to those wonderful mums and dads, who’s wise words have comforted us and made us laugh on countless occasions. So, if you think you are the only one freaking out about the new school year, rest assured that 99% of the parenting population is also feeling your pain…including these experienced folk! These hints, tips and advice are sure to fill you with the confidence you need to get the new school year off to a flying start!
Tip #1: Get them involved
Yes, the thought of going back to school is super stressy. There are so many things to buy and organise and it can feel like you are taking on a whole new job (on top of all of the other jobs you do on a daily basis). But, it can also be stressful and scary for your kids. Especially if they are about to enter reception, and start their school journey. To make the whole concept of back to school less daunting, and more fun for both parties, our first top tip is to get the kids involved in the process.
“Our big thing, which we completely forgot to do last year, is to buy a new school bag for the school year that he chose himself. It makes him feel grownup and he is more likely to carry it if he has picked it himself!” – Laura Powell-Corbett from Life with Baby Kicks – www.lifewithbabykicks.com
“Back to school can be hard on the kiddies and parents alike. Having a few special items that the kids pick themselves can make all the difference. My kids love to pick a special pencil, eraser and pencil case.” – Becky O’Haire from Cuddle Fairy Blog – www.cuddlefairy.com
“Starting school can be daunting for young children, so let them get involved in the getting ready process. Choose a schoolbag together. If they are able to have their own choice, they will be able to identify it on their pegs with ease.” – Clare Nicholas from Emmy’s Mummy – www.emmysmummy.com
1. Personalised school lunch bag 2. Personalised pencil case pouch 3. Personalised leather backpack 4. Personalised pencil tin
Tip #2: Label EVERYTHING!
You’ve just spent all of this money on brand new supplies and uniform. You have spent hours organising everything. All the supplies are neatly stashed in the schoolbag and the uniform is pristine and polished. On the first day that is. The second day rolls around, and half of their uniform is missing. Their pencil case is nowhere to be found, and another kid has walked off with your kid’s school jumper. Here lies the importance of labelling everything. And we mean everything! No coat is too big, no eraser is too small.
“My absolute back to school essential is a laundry marker pen, which helps me label everything the kids need for school in minutes. I used to spend hours sewing in name tags until I came across these markers. Labelling everything is so important, especially when the kids are younger, as it is so easy for things to get lost or get mixed up.”– Cass Bailey from Diary of a Frugal Family – www.frugalfamily.co.uk
“As both a parent and a teacher, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to label your child’s stuff. By design, school uniform is all very similar. Before now, I have seen children smelling jumpers in an attempt to decide who they belong to! Clearly labelling your child’s things makes life easier for everyone.”– Colette Burgess from We’re Going on an Adventure – www.goingonanadventure.co.uk
“My advice for back to school parents is to label everything. You have more chance of having lost/misplaced items returned to you if they are labelled.” – Sarah Anguish from Boo, Roo and Tigger Too – www.boorooandtiggertoo.com
“Get a stamp with your surname on it. The stamps last for years and years and never come off, no matter how much the clothes are washed. You don’t need a separate one per child as it’s reusable.” – Susan Mann from Susan K Mann – www.susankmann.com
1, 2, 3, 4: A selection of our personalised sticky fabric labels. Sew in versions are also available
Tip #3: Remind them of you and make them feel loved
If your child is starting school for the first time in September, this can be an especially unsettling time. They might only be used to being without you for a few hours every week, and now it will be for 5 days! A little something to remind them of you can make all the difference. Using photos of you and the family can help make them feel at home and loved, even in a brand new environment. For older children, emphasise the importance of working hard and trying their best, without having to feel the pressure of marks and grades.
“I send my kids off every year with an open mind and a willingness to do their best. I’ve never put too much pressure on them to achieve the highest grades. But I do hope that they enjoy their time at school and always try hard.” – Jo Middleton from Single Slummy Mummy blog – singleslummymummy.com
“If your child is starting reception, something for them to know you are thinking of them. We had a few tears in the first few weeks and my son kept saying how much he missed me. Give them a little note to go in their pocket to know you are in their thoughts. Or a keyring to go in their bookbag. My son has a keyring from our holiday to remind him of a lovely family time together. Small things like that offer comfort when everything is so unfamiliar and new.” – Laura Summers from Lovely Laura’s Blog – www.laurasummers.co.uk
“My back to school essentials would be to include a couple of items that make your child feel comfortable. Whether they’ve chosen their own school back or drinks bottle. Something that they can take responsibility of when they are in school and will remain with them for the year.” – Emma Shilton from Life According to Mrs Shilts – www.mrsshilts.co.uk
“I think what really helped a lot was that she had another friend from nursery joining the school together so she felt more confident because of that. If your little one has a friend at nursery also joining the same school it would be great if you coordinate with the mother so they can both arrive together or meet outside first so they will feel more excited than scared to start school. This really helps and she was so happy!” – Franca Desjardins from A Moment with Franca – www.amomentwithfranca.com
“My top tip would be to listen and create an environment for communication. We used to have a new style round up at dinner where we all discussed what we had done that day – Rather than the quiz on the way home from school with the endless questions “what have you done today at school?” “what have you had for lunch?” which is normally responded to with nothing, it becomes a regular thing. I would tell them about my day and they would tell me about theirs.” – Jen Walshaw from Mum in the Madhouse – www.muminthemadhouse.com
1. Personalised spiral notebook 2. Personalised hairbrush 3. Personalised leather keyring 4. Personalised hard shell glasses case
Tip #4: Think practically
Although it sounds obvious, there are a lot of practical aspects for getting ready to go back to school that might completely slip your mind. These titbits of advice will ensure you don’t leave anything out.
“I think a good coat that goes down below the waist is an essential. In bad weather, they are forever sitting down on walls, riding bikes and generally ending up with soggy bottoms, that are no fun once they get inside.” – Sally Whittle from Who’s the Mummy? – http://whosthemummy.co.uk
“A back to school essential is an Apple/Google or shared calendar that both parents have access to. There are so many special days/festivals/parties when school starts, and it’s really important to keep track!” – Gillian Crawshaw from A Baby on Board – www.ababyonboard.com
“My back to school essential is to prepare early! My two start secondary school this term and the shop has already sold out of stock twice! When my littlest starts, I will be queuing up on the day 1 of the summer holidays!” – Jane Pettit from Northern Mum – www.northernmum.com
“My back to school essential has got to be a keyring. I know that probably sounds a bit random however they are great bag identifiers. For both the kids and you. After having to try and sort through a large number of book bags that all look the same believe me you won’t want to leave home without one!” – Clare Minall from Mudpie Fridays – https://mudpiefridays.com
“The biggest essential for those early days (and every day after) is a good snack at the school gate. Starting school is physically exhausting and by 3pm they need some brain food to get them through the rest of the day. Dylan pretty much ate an entire meal at the school gates when he started and still ate a dinner later on.” – Becky Gower from The Mummy Adventure – www.themummyadventure.com
“My tip from the top would be to road test a children’s water bottle over the summer before the kids go back to school. Make sure that it is easy for them to open and doesn’t leak or break! We got through so many expensive water bottles that just broke or leaked before settling on one that did the job for school!” – Natalie Ray from Plutonium Sox – http://plutoniumsox.com
“Prepare the children for the 1st day back at school by spending a little bit of time everyday doing some form of educational activity, to keep their minds ticking during the summer holidays.” – Mel Knibb from Le Coin de Mel – www.lecoindemel.com
“Back to School is still quite a new-ish concept for us, and with my children being a primary school they don’t need the usual bits and bobs that other kids might need. For me, the essentials are all based around uniform. Comfortable shoes are a must (and wear them in the week before if they are new!)” – Harriet Shearsmith from Toby and Roo – http://tobyandroo.com
1. Personalised calendar 2. Personalised diary 3. Personalised leather bookmarks 4. Personalised messenger bag
We hope that these back to school hints and tops have helped to relieve some of the stress you might be feeling. A massive thank you to the wonderful contributors to this article, and their words of wisdom. Good luck with your back to school journey, and have a great year. We have to go now, the bell has just rung!