With the end of Term 4 and school holidays rapidly approaching, it will be time to think about the start of a new school year before you know it. This always comes around faster than we think, so it’s essential to be well-prepared!
Whether your kids are starting school for the first time, about to begin secondary school, or simply moving up into their next year, the back to school process can be as stressful for you as it is for them. Here are six top tips to make the transition to the new school year as easy and relaxed as possible for all of you.
1. Plan well in advance
The start of the school year is often highly stressful for parents as well as children because there are so many different things to organise. This is why your preparations should never be left until the last minute. Even if the holidays have only just begun, time passes extremely quickly, so it’s important to get organised well in advance of the start of term.
Start by making a list of everything your child will need for school, such as new uniform items, shoes and stationery (lists make you feel super organised). You should also check whether the school has listed any specific items your child will need for the coming year, and make sure these are added to the list. For example, schools often insist that everything is clearly named so don’t forget, you will also need plenty of name labels so each child’s possessions are clearly marked as their own.
In addition, complete any letters and forms your child needs to take back to school with them on their first day, and keep them in a safe, visible place where they won’t be forgotten.
2. Make shopping fun
Your children will be more excited and enthusiastic about going back to school if you involve them in the shopping process as much as you can. Take them shopping with you, and give them as much input as possible when it comes to choosing items like school shoes, bags, lunch boxes and stationery. Even trying on new uniforms can be fun, especially if it makes them feel a bit more grown up.
Obviously, you need to ensure they make sensible choices which comply with school rules, but try to involve them in the decisions wherever possible, only guiding them if you really need to. This way, they will associate going back to school with having more autonomy and being responsible for the choice of their cool new things!
Again, it’s important not to leave your school shopping trip until the last minute, as you are likely to forget some items if you do. If you purchase everything a few weeks (rather than days!) before term begins, you then have plenty of time to work out whether there’s anything else you need, so you and the kids can relax and they can go back to school fully kitted-out. And if you are topping up on name labels remember that they can take a bit longer for personalisation and delivery.
3. Give your kids some responsibility
Once you have purchased everything your kids need, those items then need to become their responsibility. Encourage them to take ownership of their school things and look after them well for the whole school year.
You can help this by making each child responsible for labeling their own items, as this way there is less risk that anything will go missing during the year. Even items as small as pencils and pens can easily be marked with your child’s name using mini labels, and younger kids, in particular, will feel more grown up if you give them the responsibility for their own labels. Do supervise them if they’re very young, though, to make sure they don’t waste any labels!
Teaching your kids to be responsible for their possessions will not only help them settle back into the idea of school, it is also a useful life skill which will stand them in good stead for the future.
4. Re-introduce healthy routines
Over the holiday break, regular routines such as bedtimes and mealtimes can easily slip. If this isn’t rectified well in advance, your child can have trouble sleeping if they suddenly have to go to bed earlier the night before going back to school.
To avoid their bodies having too much of a shock, it’s important to get the kids back into healthy eating and sleeping patterns well in advance of the start of the new school year. This ensures they will go back to school refreshed and well-rested, and they will have the energy they need to cope with each day’s activities.
It is also a good idea to prepare them for the other routines which go with going back to school. Set up a dedicated homework area in a quiet part of the house, and make sure it is comfortable so they can concentrate easily. You should also get yourself into a routine so you can make the time to help them with their homework if they need you to.
Image: The CSI Project
5. Make sure they know what to expect
If your child is starting school for the first time, or going up into secondary school, they may be apprehensive as they don’t know what to expect. It is important to talk to them and answer any questions they have. Be reassuring and positive, explaining how you felt and how you dealt with the same situation, and mention all the positive things about life at their new school, such as the chance to make new friends and discover new interests.
Young children about to start school need to know what school is all about, so it can be helpful to arrange for them to visit the school in advance, so they can see it for themselves before starting. You also need to make sure they have all the life skills they need before they start. If they have trouble with little things such as putting their shoes on the right feet, it is a good idea to label their shoes so they can see clearly which is left and right.
Children of any age can be worried about going back to school after the holidays, as each new school year contains its own challenges. Make sure you talk to them, asking them what they are most looking forward to and what their main concerns are.
If possible, try and arrange for them to meet up with some of their school friends in the days before term starts. They might not have seen each other over the holidays, so rekindling friendships is an ideal way to get your kids more excited about the idea of going back to school. It can also provide extra reassurance, as some children find it easier to talk about school with their friends rather than their parents.
6. Spend quality family time
Once the school year has started and everyone’s busy lives have resumed after the holidays, it can be easy to forget to spend quality time together as a family. Simply having a conversation where you discover what has happened in everyone’s day, is a great way to continue to give each other time.
If you start this process in the holidays, you can reassure your kids that it will continue once they go back to school. This will make it easier for everyone to stick to it, ensuring that your kids have a balance between school, homework and relaxation, and keeping the fun going long after the holidays are over. You will benefit from it yourself, too, as it enables you to get more involved with your children’s lives, opening up dialogues with them and helping them to face everything they encounter during the school year.
Want more help preparing your children to go back to school?
Getting the kids ready for a new school year is always going to be a hectic process which comes with a fair amount of stress. But it is much easier if you can get yourself organised. My Name Label has been set up for parents exactly like you, who have busy lives and need to keep track of your children’s things without too much effort.
Whether you need to label clothes, shoes, stationery or lunch boxes, we can help, with our range of stick-on and iron-on labels in different sizes and designs, enabling your child to personalise their school items and have more fun with them. If you would like to know more about the range of labels we sell, please contact us, and our team will be happy to help.