Back to School Tips for Parents
Going back to school can be a daunting and nerve-wrecking time for many kids, but it can be just as worrisome and stress-inducing for their parents. The weeks leading up to September quickly become a rush of buying school uniform, securing name labels (find name tags here), competing last-minute homework and packing book bags. It can feel like you don’t have a minute to think!
For those overwhelmed parents who don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a list of great back to school tips for parents to help you take at least some of the pain out of what will quickly become an annual nightmare
Prepare Their Uniform
If you’re buying new school uniform for the start of the school year then hit the shops early. This will give you more size options and styles to choose from, and hopefully help you avoid the crowds in the days leading up to the return to school. If you’re not buying new uniform then ensure your existing uniform is clean, ironed and free from stains.
Secure name labels to every piece of school uniform (even their socks!). You’ll be amazed at what your children will lose at school, especially on those days when they are changing in and out of their PE kit. Naming each item is the best way of ensuring it eventually makes its way back to you, so you don’t have to buy everything all over again!
Start a Family Calendar
The start of the school term can be a particularly busy time with school trips, harvest festival and a myriad of extra-curricular activities all looming in your future. This can become difficult to keep track of, particularly if you have more than one child.
The best way to ensure you don’t miss anything is to start a family calendar and use this to record everything. As well as the big events (such as class birthday parties and non-uniform days) add smaller but important details, such as the day of their next spelling test or when they should be handing in their homework. This will serve as a useful visual reminder for all of you. You should also ensure you make note of your own work shifts, hobbies and social events, so that you all have a clear idea of where everyone is supposed to be at all times. With the right family planner, you’ll never forget anything again!
Organise Play Dates
The summer holidays can be long and expensive. If you’re struggling to fill your days then why not try and organise play dates for your child with their new classmates? Not only is this fun and free entertainment for your child, it can be particularly helpful if your child is going to a new school or into a new class room and is feeling apprehensive about not knowing anybody on their first day.
Organising play dates will help them to make new social connections, giving them a friendly face to talk to (or play with) on that first morning in the school playground. It should help boost their confidence about going to a new school or classroom and help to make the transition process much easier.
Establish a School Routine
We all want our children to succeed and to hit the ground running when they step into the classroom, but 6 weeks of lazy days and late nights can quickly take their toll. Returning to school when the sun is shining, and when they’re exciting to see their classmates after such a long break, can mean they’re more interested in playing than in focusing on their lessons. You can help your child to hit the ground running for the new academic year by establishing a school routine early.
Spend the last week of the school holidays re-establishing your child’s normal school day bedtime, and don’t let them sleep in in the morning. Wake them at the time they would need to get out of bed on a normal school day so their body clock resets and they aren’t shocked (and grumpy) on that first early morning school run.
Put a white board in their bedroom that outlines what you expect of them each morning (such as get dressed, eat breakfast, pack your book bag) and allow them to take responsibility for this. They will quickly get into a routine of doing this for themselves, and will be more thoroughly engaged in school life when getting themselves ready on time is their own responsibility.
Liven up Their Lunchboxes
If your child is getting sick of eating the same old cheese sandwiches every day then why not use the summer holidays to think about ways that you can liven up their lunchboxes? Mix up the sandwiches by experimenting with wraps, pitta pockets and bagels, as well as boring brown bread. Replace those sugary and high fat snacks (such as crisps and chocolate) that will lead to an after-lunch sugar slump with healthier alternatives such as veggie sticks and yoghurts. And don’t forget to pack a large bottle of water: hydration is vital for promoting their memory and concentration skills. If your child is reluctant to drink water (many kids prefer sugary squash or fruit based drinks instead) then throw a couple of slices of lemon or lime into the bottle to liven it up a little.
Don’t forget to prepare those lunchboxes the night before school, so that you have one less job to do when you’re rushing around on a busy school morning. Just grab them and go!
Talk Things Through
First day nerves are a normal part of the back to school transition, whether your child is transitioning to a new school or just to a new class. If your child is feeling apprehensive then it’s important to keep the lines of communication open between the two of you. Talk to them. Show you that you understand their apprehensions. Try to address their concerns. If you think it might help them then why not consider having a couple of trial runs of the journey to school? This will not only help you to work out how long the journey will take but it will also familiarise your child with the new school building. They may feel more comfortable with the process if they have this visual aid to support them.
Why not tell your child about your first day at school, and some funny stories about your own school days. It may help them to know that you understand the process because you went through it yourself (and came out the other side).
As well as preparing your child for the transition to school, it’s important to prepare yourself for the transition to being a school parent. Read all of the literature provided by the school, and make sure that you understand the school rules and the school ethos. Being on the same page as the school about rules and discipline will help you to give your child consistency. Ensure that the school have your correct contact details and email address: most schools will distribute their weekly newsletter to parents via email, so it’s important they have this so that you can stay involved with what is happening in the school.
Now is also a good time to decide how involved you would like to be with the school. Do you plan on joining the PTA or will you have the availability to help out on school trips? Even if you don’t plan to be involved in the running of the school, it’s important to arrange your schedule so that you can be available for parent’s evenings, school plays, and other displays that may be important to your child. Research shows that children who’s parents play an active involvement in their school life and their education are much more likely to succeed in later life, so it’s important to think about how you can be involved and demonstrate this to your child.
Take a Photo
Finally, don’t forget to take a photo to capture your child’s first day back at school. This is a great idea no matter what school year they are going into: if you take a photo every year then you’ll quickly develop a photo record of their growth and process throughout their school career. Treasure these precious moments: you’ll be amazed at how quick your child will grow, and another school year will be over in no time!
This is a collaborative post.