Back to school

Family Health Diary

It’s here! School is back. A new routine and regular rhythm starts to daily life. Are you ready? Are your kids?

For me this is the first year I only have the one starting school…and a new school at that. The older ones are starting uni and work, so new beginnings all round.

This list of tips below come from years of starting a new school year – 16 years in fact when I do the maths. Little people starting school for the first time or even for the first few years are a different ball game to the older ones, and have extra needs parents need to cater for, but some of these tips should cross the ages I hope.

  1. Tidy the bedroom
    Start the new year fresh – go through the clothes and rehome the ones that are outgrown, not worn. Go through last year’s school stuff and file for future reference, or keep a special piece or three for nostalgia and bin the rest.
  1. Move the room round
    Often a tidy means the chance to move things round. It can be a cathartic thing to start a new school year in a ‘new’ room organising what things need to go where.
  1. Get everything organised
    Uniforms labelled, school bag washed and aired from last year, (hoping there is no lunchbox stashed –  I jest not, one year I found one about 3 weeks old just before Christmas which was a particularly pretty find), any sports, musical, arts stuff ready, and the stationery and books sorted. On that….
  1. Cover the books
    If you have a youngster that likes to make their books look individual – take a deep breath. This is a process to the uninitiated that can be quite stressful. I therefore offer you the sage, calming advice of this wonderful young girl on You Tube who does it in real-time, with no bubbles. I should have found her years ago.
  1. Visit the school
    This can be virtual as in looking online and seeing what you and your child need to know about the first days and weeks, what is where, what the new teacher looks like, or a physical walk around identifying the new classroom or whatever. After school starts it’s nice to go and have a look with them in the weekend too and have them tell you a bit about how things roll from 9 to 3.
  1. Diarise
    When I had three at school, every term I used to write up a colour coded activity schedule for what happened when, on what day and put a copy on the pantry door. Not only was it useful for each child to know what time cricket practise or dance was again, but as chief taxi driver and dinner prepper it was great for me to have it handy to plan for the end of day activities. I also had those activities in the phone/ outlook calendar, but the trusty colour coded print out was a real winner. I miss it now….
  1. Plan the bus route before you need it
    We’ve followed buses in the car before they get on one, to know where they go. Children often don’t look outside the car when they are being driven, so we would drive behind the bus and look for landmarks they knew so they could identify them on the bus too.
  1. If you’re close – figure out the walk or the ride
    Most primary schools have a walking school bus system and they’re a wonderful way for you and your children to meet people in the community. It’s not a day one thing, but it’s a great ‘to do’ goal for a new school year. If your child is nearer double digits, you could also consider a bike. Ask your school about it as often they have a traffic officer coming in at the start of the year who can talk to keen bike riders about safe riding to school.
  1. Set the alarm 15 minutes earlier than you think you need it
    Always good to be early rather than stressed getting there on time. I used to try and get the kids going to bed earlier a few days before school started (with varying success!), given the early mornings can be a rude shock after the ‘whatever’ ones have become the norm.
  1. Lunchboxes
    Ah that friend again. One could write a tome on this subject. I’ve just talked to my daughter about what she wants in a lunchbox as it needs to be food she has some input into because then she might help prepare it and eat it! Whatever works for you, but having an idea of what you’re going to put in there before the morning of, always useful.

Good luck with week one as all sorts of possibilities unfold for our young people with a new year ahead of them.


Written by Jude Dobson

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