The end of the school holidays is approaching, striking dread into the hearts of children across the country, and joy into those of the parents who have had little ones, and not so little ones, to keep entertained for the last few weeks.
Of course, if this is your child’s very first year at school you are likely to be feeling somewhat apprehensive too; it is a momentous occasion in any parent’s books. While mentally preparing yourself for those first days is no doubt at the front of your mind, now is the time to ensure your child, regardless of age, is ready for school.
Getting school-ready: What will you need?
There are several things that you could be doing in order to prepare your child for school, especially if they are a little younger and venturing into kindergarten or pre-school for the first time. Talk openly about the kinds of experience your little one is likely to have, find books that you can read together, and answer questions as openly as you can; there are likely to be A LOT of questions, too.
These final weeks are an ideal time to get into a routine, and to phase out the excitement of the summer vacation. Ensure your kids are heading to bed at a reasonable time and starting the day refreshed and ready to go, and provide plenty of reading material, including items on older children’s’ reading lists.
OK, so now you are both mentally prepared, what is left to do? Buy supplies, of course. Your child is going to need new clothes or a uniform for starters; it is amazing how much they can grow in a matter of weeks. They are also going to need a school bag, stationery and all manner of miscellaneous items that schools class as essential. The items that fill their school bag will depend upon their age and school year, although some staples never change.
Pre-school and kindergarten
Congratulations, your little one is about to embark upon a new adventure. Regardless of how prepared you feel to let them go, make sure they have everything they’ll need. And if they are returning to pre-school or kindergarten, check whether they’ll need anything different from the previous year.
For back to school gear for your toddler, such as a bag and lunch box set, check out ranges such as Skip Hop. You may also want to think about getting them new clothes and shoes, or a uniform if the pre-school or kindergarten they attend requires them to wear one.
When it comes to stationery, you may want to get them pencils, crayons, markers and a notebook, but your pre-school or kindergarten is likely to supply some or all of these.
Elementary and middle school
As your child grows up so will the size of their stationery kit, and the money you will need to fork out so that your not-so-little-one is well prepared for the workload ahead. You may notice uniform policies starting to creep in at this point, and that you have to buy monochrome gym kits as well as smart shoes and blazers.
Your child is also going to need a substantially bigger backpack and pencil case, as well as pens, markers and highlighters, plastic files and folders, index cards, sticky labels, post-it notes, and a calculator, as well as the usual erasers, pencil crayons, glue sticks and scissors.
High school and beyond
School life is getting serious now; along with uniform and gym kit, new shoes, a whole reading list, and a brand new bag and pencil case to hold everything, consider a loose-leaf notepad, plastic wallets, a hole punch, graph paper, squared sheets, colored dividers, a scientific calculator and a math set.
Depending on the classes your child is taking, you may need to provide them with cooking equipment as well as the stationery that will have accompanied them throughout school. A diary or planner are vital at this point too, enabling your child to schedule classes, homework and after-school activities.
It is important that you familiarize yourself with school literature, and prepare your child as best as you can, particularly if this is their first year at school, or a new term in a different class. If your child’s school is hosting back-to-school events, attend what you can, as these will allow you to meet teachers and other students, and learn about any procedures you will be expected to follow.
Also, pay attention to any reading and equipment lists, and, last of all, be positive; your child is likely to be feeling excited and more than a little daunted about heading back to school, so show them enthusiasm and support. With a little encouragement, your child will be raring to go come that first day back.