We’re not too far away from school starting again. For most parents, a little preparation goes a long way to making sure the first few weeks in September run as smoothly as possible. A lot will depend on whether your child is off to nursery school or about to head out to college or university.
Whatever their age, here are some quick tips on what to include on your back to school list.
For many kids, heading to nursery school is usually the first time they experience being away from home for an extended period. It can be a frightening time for some and a tremendous adventure for others. The key here is not to overprepare at such an early age.
- Get all the clothes together to see you over the winter period. Hardy and comfortable is the order of the day and some old favourites won’t go amiss.
- You might want to tape names into things like coats and gloves so they don’t get lost in the nursery throng.
- You’ll need to put some effort into preparing your child for school – walking them past the school can help and getting them into a routine with going to bed and getting up are also important ways of easing into the transition.
- If this is the first time you have a child going to school, you’re going to need to organise things with work – that might mean being flexible with working hours and arranging pickups.
You can find a good deal of help and information about pre-school and what prep to do from the PACEY website.
Primary and Junior School
As children get older, the preparation for the start of the new year becomes a little more regimented.
- It’s good to have a uniform checklist, including shirts or trousers, pullovers, socks and underwear as well as shoes.
- Are they likely to have PE? If so, you’ll also need to buy a gym kit and bag.
- You’ll still want to put labels in clothes especially items that tends to be discarded in a moment of excitement, like coats and jumpers, to make sure they don’t get lost or mixed up with someone else’s clothes in the changing room.
- What bags do you need? A satchel for books, something to put lunch in and a gym bag are usually prerequisites.
- A water bottle is a sensible idea if you want your children to stay hydrated during the day.
- Of course, you’ll have to get the pencil case and all the usual stationary requirements such as pens, pencils and rubbers together.
By this time, not only will you have a more focused checklist but your child will also be starting to develop their own independence. They’ll have ‘needs’ and you’ll have to include these in any checklist.
- First you need to see how much they’ve outgrown their uniform. For many parents, this means getting new outfits each year, sometimes twice a year if your child has growth spurts. It is worth visiting the school website to make sure there haven’t been changes in regulations.
- Don’t forget important things like sports equipment and clothes for PE.
- By senior school, pupils are starting to use equipment like laptops, advanced calculators and mobile phones so you should make sure these are still fit for the job.
- Sit down with your child and work through the list of things they need for the start of school round about the middle of August giving you a few weeks to hunt down any illusive items.
- Equipment will be important and a decent pencil case with the usual pens and pencils as well as a compass, protractor and set square are generally the order of the day. Then there a ring binders and exercise books that you need to include. If you’re not sure what to get, always contact the school to find out. Most have a list on their website. Pay attention to specialist subjects; Art for instance may require a set of charcoals, specialist pencils and water colours… we all know children have a knack of gloriously informing us of requirements the morning of the first day back at school – avoid the trap plan ahead!
College and University
By the time your child reaches college or university, they should, hopefully, have their own needs well in hand and be able to organise themselves. You may still have to make sure that certain things are covered.
- If they are moving away from home, put together a list of items they are going to take. That might include useful appliances like a kettle. If you ever want a phone call home, make sure they have a spare phone charger!
- Make sure that your child has all the right contact numbers should anything go wrong or there’s an emergency.
- Most first year students will move into university accommodation so it’s always sensible to travel light at first.
- Check if you need to pack items like desk lamps and waste bins, though many halls nowadays provide these.
- Finally, organise your child’s finances so that they can easily access funds if they need them – that will mean opening a bank account if this hasn’t already been done.
Finally give yourself a reward. Once everyone is back at school plan a suitable reward, whether that is an overdue coffee with another parent, a peaceful shopping trip, or simply 15 mins to flick through a magazine, plan and make sure you take your reward, going back to school is harder than mobilising a small army and you did it!