Can you feel it in the air? The manic energy of the holidays is starting to wind down and a new school year is just around the corner! Whether you’re getting ready for your child’s very first day or preparing them for another year, there’s a lot of preparation leading up to that first day at school. As a parent, the most important thing you can do for your child during this period is to be organised. To help you prepare, we’ve put together a handy guide on what to do and look out for.
1. Keep a Calendar
Before you begin shopping or running around, list down all the important events that may occur during your child’s first term. If it has been released, try to get a copy of the school’s term calendar so that you have some key dates in concrete. Buy yourself an organiser or a calendar for the kitchen to map out all of these important dates.
These key dates might include:
- The first and last day of school
- Parent-teacher interviews
- Special events, fetes, excursions or assemblies
- School sporting events
- After-school activities
- Check with the school on after-school care availability
2. School Supplies
Make sure you give yourself enough time to get your child’s books and school supplies ready. Your school will share a list of the required books and other needs for the classroom (textbooks, tablet, calculator, USB stick, etc.), but make a master list for yourself that you can physically tick off before you start buying!
As well as the items recommended by the school, plan for other items to add to your list, such as:
- Lunch box
- Spare clothes
- Name tags for their bag and other personal items
- Umbrellas or lightweight wet-weather gear
- Extra notebooks, pens and folders
- Lanyard to keep keys, USB or school ID in one easy-to-find place
- Tablets, e-readers, laptops or computers
Extra tip: Make sure you allow room in your budget for all of the back-to-school costs. With the long list of items that you need to buy, it can get pricey. Always take note of what unused school supplies you have left from last year, and remove those items from the list to reduce your overall cost.
Children grow fast and their clothing size is always changing. Try to take your child to the school uniform store as close to the start date as possible. If you have some sewing skills, you may even be able to buy clothing in a size larger and take it in yourself. If not, give yourself plenty of time to get them professionally tailored. Some school uniform shops also offer good quality second hand items which could save you some money.
Extra tip: Make sure you read up on any special school dress codes and/or restrictions that the school might enforce. That new hat that your child got for Christmas might be sent home with a note if it doesn’t fit with the code.
4. School Shoes
School shoes are the most important part of your child’s wardrobe. Their constant growth spurts (expect shoe-size changes every six to 12 months) means that your child’s feet are constantly developing and forming, which will affect the way they walk, run and play sports. Because of this, it should be a top priority to find shoes that are comfortable, supportive and – above all – fit well. An ill-fitting shoe can lead to long-term problems with their foot, leg and spine health, so it’s best to get it right from the start.
Things to look for in a good school shoe:
- A firm heel
- Insoles ideally should be removable, particularly if the child has been prescribed an orthotic
- Durable and breathable materials
- Roomy toe box
- Rubber soles with a deep tread to prevent slipping
- Support for the ankle
Read our full guide to buying kids school shoes for more information.
Most retail shops will have suitable school shoes, but if you are looking for particular requirements it’s always best to get proper advice about what kind of shoe your child needs. Does your child have a flat foot or do they have higher arches? How wide are your child’s feet? Do they turn inwards or outwards? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s best to get a podiatry check-up (see more below).
5. Health and Podiatry Checks
Before the chaos of school begins, plan for a health check with your child’s GP. As well as a general health and vision check – make sure that they are on track for any required vaccinations and/or flu shots before the semester begins.
As well as the GP, it’s also important to book your children in for a podiatry check-up. Children’s foot health is often overlooked and their growing feet will require regular check-ups to make sure that they are developing and forming well.
Not sure when to take them in? If your child ever experiences pain in the feet or legs this would indicate that a podiatry check-up is required. Otherwise, these are the minimum milestones to look out for:
- Age three (this is when children develop a more adult “heel-to-toe” gait)
- Age five (when starting school)
- Before beginning organized sports
Read our full guide on How to Know if Your Child Needs Orthotics for more information.
Book a hair appointment for your child so that their locks are fresh and tidy for the first day.
The last thing you’ll want to do is take them in the middle of the semester when your weekends will be jam-packed with school events and play dates.
7. Create Their Own Workspace
Kids need a quiet and distraction-free area to study. Before the semester starts, make sure that you’ve set up a designated space just for them. A few weeks before school starts, you should arrange fun and stimulating activities that they can complete in the workspace. This will help get them in the zone once it actually comes time for them to complete homework there!
What should this space look like? Try to:
- Keep it away from the television or main thoroughfare of the house
- Don’t go overboard on decoration, keep the space simple
- Make sure they have a comfortable chair that they can sit in for several hours
- Have storage solutions for their books, pens and other school supplies
8. Get Back on Schedule
During the holidays, your kids may fall off their usual school schedule. They might be sleeping in and going to bed later at night. Two weeks before school starts, get them back on track. The easiest way to do this is to make sure their meal times reflect the upcoming school schedule.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be. The time will fly by and before you know it you’ll be saying goodbye to them at the school gate.
Need more help preparing for their return to school? Download our free, printable Back-to-School checklist so that you don’t miss a thing!