Going back to school after the summer holidays can be daunting for some kids, whilst others may be super excited. It’s important that us parents feel prepared for the kids going back, helping to reduce the stress of it all. As a mum of three, I know all too well that the task (and the expense!) of getting all the kids prepared for school can be rather tedious. Uniforms to purchase, stationery to gather, lunch boxes to prepare, the list can feel never-ending! However, over the last 33 years in teaching, with 28 of those being a mother, here are some of the tips and tricks that have helped me in the past.
Make a list
It feels like an obvious one, but I can assure you that it certainly helps me feel like I have my life together a bit! Some schools have a printable back-to-school checklist for the things the kids need. However, I just keep a pen and paper (or phone of course) with me for the few weeks leading up to school — whenever I remember something the kids will need for their return, I jot it down. I try my best to tick everything off the list at least a week before school starts, just so it’s not playing on my mind. Also, we’ve all made the mistake of buying school shoes too late, leaving only the dribs and drabs left to purchase (apologies to my middle daughter for that, I know those shoes you wore for year 8 weren’t ideal!). To prevent that from happening, I’d recommend getting it over and done with as soon as possible.
Keeping the kids calm
For the kids that are more wary about going back, there are a few things that can put their mind at ease. To ease them back into the school environment, practising times tables for 10-15 minutes in the morning can help. To make it more fun for my daughters, I laid cushions on the floor and for every question they got right they moved onto the next cushion. Kids can practise writing by playing hangman, or spelling by completing word searches. The key is to make learning as fun as possible through educational games. This can help them feel prepared about going back and feel more in control.
Meeting up with a friend
Something I did with all my kids was arranging for them to meet up with their classmates the day before they went back. This helps it feel less daunting, knowing that they have a close friend who will be there for them once they leave their family at the school gate. Alternatively, if you drop your kids off at a childminder in the morning, you can pop by for a quick chat the day prior, just so the little ones feel more familiar with what awaits the following day.
The week leading up to the first day of school can feel a bit like limbo; trying to fill the days with activities to keep the kids occupied. Playing imaginative games, such as schools, can make the little ones feel calmer about going back, but can also help fill some time. The children can play the teacher and us parents can be the pupils. You can encourage your child to role play this game with their toys — this will also help them feel more prepared and at ease. It will provide good entertainment for us adults, witnessing the little ones do their best teacher impersonations. Don’t worry, I don’t offend easily!
Have a fun last day!
I’d always recommend having lots of fun as a family the day before the kids go back. After you are all prepared -school lunches packed, uniform ironed and labelled, pencil cases ready — take a day trip out. Go to the local farm or play park and keep the day as light-hearted as possible. It not only helps distract the little ones, but it’s a great way to end the summer holidays!
Before I head off, I have one final piece of advice. I’d suggest informing the little ones that this term may be different to last. Schools may not be implementing bubbles and there may be more people in assemblies and the playground. Ask the school or teachers what the procedure will be if you feel uncertain at all.
I hope this has been helpful. But no matter what my advice is, just do whatever works for you and your family, as there are no rules in parenting!