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Our Favourite Back to School Checklist

Going back to school can be a busy time for both parents and children, getting started a few weeks early will alleviate the pressure for everyone

 

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 aw 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

Footwear

Make sure your child's uniform fits properlyAs 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!

Uniforms

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. One of our office mums even bought 2 whole sets before her child started year one so that they could seamlessly move from size to size without delay.

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.

Kit bags

Make sure each child has the right kit bagAt 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.

One of our mums has the kit bags for the week packed, by the children and checked by her every Sunday. The children follow the checklists to make sure they have everything and can follow the calendar to see what they need each morning. This takes the rush out of the morning scramble and Mum and Dad know their little David Beckham won't get to the football match without shin pads or boots.

Back to School Stationary SuppliesStationary supplies

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.

One of our mums recalls her trip out last year, giving each child a budget and they created a list of items they needed for school. It became a game for the children and mum could sit back and help with questions when the kids were struggling. Not only did the kids have what they needed for school, there was 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!

This is another time when pre-made lists come in handy and help children take responsibility for what they need. Having a list of everyday items and then certain things allotted to different days will help all of you!

One of our mums mentioned that even though she convinced the kids those lists were for them, they were really there to help her remember what was happening each day.

Reading, writing and arithmetic

Over the summer kids get out of the habit of doing homework, which can make the first week back to school a bit of a hassle. But if you start getting them back in to the habit a week or two before school starts, you'll find that there is less of a fight on your hands.

Now trying to get kids to do homework in the summer will work better for some than it does for others, but even the simple act of choosing a story that you'll read together before bed time every night (part of your routine) can be enough to remind them of how to focus on something for a period of time.

Healthy snacks

Summers can be filled with picnics, ice cream and lots of treats. We know that children need to have healthy foods, low in sugar, to be able to concentrate for long periods of time.

Stocking up on healthy snacks before the school year starts, means there will be less temptation to grab a bag of crisps or a candy bar on the way to school. Whether you decide to go for a high protein snack of cheese and crackers or a high fiber snack like a handful of Weetabix Minis - you'll have an arsenal of options available that don't involve mountains of refined sugar!

Childcare plans

Having a childcare plan in place before September will help you to manage the back to school rush. Whether you have one in nursery and one in big school, are juggling the school routines on your own or have a nanny to help with the before and after school activities, knowing who is doing what and how it all fits into a schedule alleviates pressure.

Unfortunately childcare doesn't always work the way we expect, so having a backup childcare plan in place is imperative to a seamless transition.

If you aren't lucky enough to have family close by to fill in when plans change, services like Emergency Childcare (for nannies, nurseries and childminders) can help you sort new arrangements in a matter of hours.

Relax...

Healthy snacks help kids concentrate

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!

 
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Thank you for delivering on your promise as you know I was so worried about the childcare. Many thanks.
Michelle, Northants