Not many days left now before public school goes back! We all know that whilst the days might feel long (Mum joke!!), they’ll fly by in a blur. Then, like clockwork, the Monday before will be a mad panic of checking school uniforms, shoes, and bags. That’s when you start to remember the lost hat, the broken zipper, or the stationery that you needed to buy and label. This year we thought we’d give you a helping hand with our back to school to-do list. We’ve put together some ideas to help you make the transition smoother and get back to school started with a bang!
1. Start talking about it
I remember as a kid getting uncomfortable butterflies in my tummy the first morning of a new school year. My brother would try to encourage Mum to give him the day off. This anxiety is real and your child may be feeling it. For a couple of weeks before school goes back start talking about it. A great conversation starter is talking about the school day routine, their teachers, all the friends they enjoy spending time with. Remind them of what they’ve learned so far and what they are going to learn next.
If your child is starting school for the first time and they’ve been given a buddy talk about the buddy. Maybe they have friends who are moving from preschool to school with them. Reminisce about the things you remember when you were at school and how they may have changed. Make sure you talk about school in a positive way. Most importantly, listen. This may be the time they share fears, anxieties or just fill you in on things you didn’t know. Be present and offer them your support so they begin the new year feeling positive.
With Christmas and new year celebrations, spending time with family, or just trying to plan school holidays around work and all our other commitments, life is busy. Booking playdates may not have been high on your priority list. Ask them who they would like to have over, arrange a play date at the park, or go bowling. Encourage them to have a swim at the local pool or play out in your garden. Let your kids reconnect with their friends so that they are excited about going back to school together.
3. Get back into a regular bedtime
If your family is anything like mine, bedtime rules slide over the holidays. We all enjoy our more chilled out evenings when watching a movie doesn’t affect how they perform at school the next day. It’s a good idea to get them back into a bedtime schedule before school starts back. Let them get a few good night’s sleep so they are well-rested and ready for all of the learning that is to come. Being well-rested will also help them to deal with change as they move to new teachers or sharing their class with different friends.
4. Refresh screen time rules
Another thing that seems to fall a little by the wayside is our family’s rules about screen time. I find it’s a good idea to reinstate those rules at least a week before school goes back. My children are grumpy for a couple of days when their screen time is reduced so it’s a good idea to avoid those arguments before we get too close to the start of a new school term. Find them other things to do. Practice their musical instruments, read a book, do some revision or just tidy their bedroom! Don’t make it feel like a punishment. Give them a positive ‘reward’ for accepting these changes. It doesn’t have to cost you any money, it’s just an excuse to make them feel good.
5. Read a book
My daughter’s friend never has her nose out of a book. With my kids, it’s a little more hit and miss. Encourage your children to read before they go back to school. Get them back into the habit of reading a chapter before they go to sleep or if they are younger, sit with them and help them to read. Even older children benefit from you listening to them. It aids them with the pronunciation of tricky words or helps you to identify areas they might be struggling in. Even if they’re a great reader, it gives you some time together. My daughter and I have been laughing this holiday about a passage out of a book she’s been reading. We’ve quoted it so many times the whole family knows it now!
6. Check school bags, lunch boxes, and drink bottles
There’s nothing worse than discovering a broken zipper on a bag the day school goes back. Or the mouldy sandwich that has been festering unnoticed all school holidays. Yuck! Have a look at your child’s school bag, check zippers and empty pockets. Give it a wash or make a plan to replace it. Kids don’t need a new bag every year if last year’s bag is still going strong. It’s the same with lunch boxes.
Check that it’s still food safe and mould hasn’t taken hold. Give it a scrub and an airing in the sun. Check that reusable drinks bottles don’t leak and then very importantly, take the time to label everything. You’ll save yourself a fortune if lost lunchbox items make their way back to you from school.
7. School uniforms, shoes, and haircuts
It’s easy to underestimate just how much your kids have grown over the school holidays. Clothes that were just fitting at the end of last year might be too small now. Shoes that you thought would give you a few more months may now see toes touching the ends. Check out this school shoes guide from Prime Health Podiatry. Some schools have a change in uniform depending on the year your child is in. For others, your child may be starting a new school.
Make sure you have enough school uniforms to see you through a week. In summer it’s easier to wash and dry clothes but as cooler months approach it’s good to know you have enough school uniforms to see your child through the week without washing and drying. Check your school’s policy on shoes and send them to school with the correct colours and styles.
Label everything. I know it’s time-consuming but there is nothing worse than losing a brand new expensive jacket at the start of the year and never finding it again. And don’t forget the hat! My daughter lost hers in the last week of school even with her name embroidered on it. I must put a new one on my shopping list!
Don’t forget to book the kids in for their haircuts. It’s a busy time for hairdressers, so bookings are essential!
8. School stationery
Do you remember the list you were given at the end of term last year? You know. The one you put on the pile of things to do that has been buried under Christmas and New Year! Now’s the time to go and find it again. There are lots of stores that have special offers on school supplies this time of the year. If you don’t have the time to go and shop in person, Officeworks offers an upload and order service. They’ll get your list ready for you so all you have to do is pick it up. Simples! Labelling the stationery is down to you though. The joys of being a parent!
9. School lunches and snacks
How many times have you filled a lunch box with carefully thought out food only for it all to come back home uneaten? Start talking to your kids about what they would like for their lunches. If they’re old enough, encourage them to help make it. Preparing savoury muffins or making wraps with their favourite fillings will encourage them to eat what they find in their lunch box. Cutting up fruit or veggie sticks together allows them to choose what they want to eat. Go to the shops and encourage them to give you some ideas. Give them some responsibility for their food choices and make them responsible for eating it too. But remember, sometimes going to play with their friends is just too much temptation and lunch can always wait until 3 pm!
10. Off to high school and more homework?
Preparing for high school can be daunting. Then there’s homework! Your child may be used to doing some homework already but that will crank up once high school kicks in. Talk to your child about how they should plan the time they have after school and on weekends. You may want to reduce the number of extra activities they do during Term 1 while you get used to this new regime. Give your child some tools to help them. You might find using an app to plan their time works for them or they may like to write it all down. Find what works for your child and support them during the start of this new journey.
Read more here about transitioning to high school.
11. Government vouchers
Creative kids and active kids vouchers
As the new year starts, you’re now able to apply for this year’s creative and active kids vouchers. You can apply for these vouchers for all school-aged kids from 4 1/2 years to 18 years old. Currently, you receive 1 x $100 creative kids voucher a year for each child. This can be put towards registration, participation, and tuition costs for performing arts, visual arts, coding, language, music, literature, and other creative and cultural interests where the provider accepts the voucher.
Read more about Creative Kids Vouchers in Lake Mac
You can apply for 2 x $100 active kids vouchers for every 41/2 years to 18-years child each year. These vouchers can be used for sport, fitness, and active recreation with providers who accept these vouchers. Apply for your vouchers now as you start to plan for out of school activities for the year. To find out more click here:
Read more about Active Kids Vouchers in Lake Mac
NSW Parents Vouchers 2023
To help out with the cost of back-to-school expenses, the NSW government has issued 3 x $50 vouchers for each child to be used towards this cost. Find out more here: Back to School 2023 Vouchers