Back to school and the start of a new academic year are just around the corner. QLD, NSW, SA & NT kids return in January, with February starters living in ACT, TAS, VIC & WA. Click here for 2013 term dates.
So what can you do to ensure a smooth start to the school year? Check out these 10 top tips. The more organised you are, the smoother the first day back will be for your child.
1. Ask your child to try on last year's uniform now, so you know what needs replaced or repaired. Check out uniform shop opening times. They should be on the school website. If you are starting a new school, then get to the uniform shop sooner rather than later. It will be busier close to school start and you may not get the sizes you are looking for. Staff will also be more harassed with a full shop and waiting time will get longer.
(Image courtesy of fussyfeet.com.au)
2. Don't forget to see how their school shoes fit, as chances are you will need to buy a new pair. Let your child wear them in a bit at home too so they are not uncomfortable the first few days.
3. How are their school bags and lunch boxes looking? Do you need to get new ones? If you didn't empty out their bag on the last day of term you might want to do that now. There may be sandwich or fruit remains growing spectacular mould inside which looks vaguely like a science experiment in progress.
(Image courtesy of accordproducts.com)
4. Stationery is next on the list. Dig out the recommended list. Once you have bought your stationery, take some time to label it all. It's a bit of a chore but at least it won't disappear so quickly which will mean another trip to the shops to replace.
5. Stock up on some hair elastics and clips, as you may often waste time looking for these kind of things on a school morning. Buy an extra pair of shoelaces to keep too.
6. Check out what is available at the school tuck shop for lunches and talk about the choices with your child. If you pack lunches, then add some dry options to your basket every time you shop, so your cupboard is well stocked. You can bake things like muffins and banana bread, and wrap them individually and pop them in your freezer. If you make a batch then you have home baked healthy options on hand, which cuts down daily preparation time.
7. Set up a homework area with a box of things your child will need like pencils, rubber, sharpener and, calculator and keep them on that desk. These items are not part of school stationery or a pencil case that travels to and from school. That way homework can get started without wasting time looking for a sharp pencil before your child can begin.
8. Ask some friends round to play so your child has a buddy they know to play with at morning tea and lunchtime. Often they worry they will have no one to play with and be sitting on their own.
Read, read, read - it's the best thing you can do with your child (Image courtesy of Education Queensland website)
9. Read, read, read. This one should be top of the list. If your child is in lower primary they have not had reading practice for nearly two months which is a long time at that age. Visit the library and take out some books at their reading age and just take five minutes per day to read with them.
10. For the best start to the first day back help your child pack their bag and lay out their uniform, with socks in their shoes, the day before - so all they have to do in the morning is get dressed, breakfast and get off to school with no panic or stress looking for things.
Food for thought - Breakfast is Best
A good breakfast gets the brain in gear
Breakfast is, without a doubt, the most important meal of the day for your child. If your body has not had food since 6 o'clock the night before, then by the time 11am morning tea comes around, you have had seventeen hours without food. That means the brain really has not been functioning for the morning session at all. Eat breakfast to feed the brain and improve concentration. It can include things like: cereal with fresh milk, egg on toast or muesli with fruit and yoghurt.
For a tasty Fruit Shake - throw any fruit plus yoghurt and a little juice in the blender and hey presto you have a delicious, energising quick drink start to the day. There are old faithfuls such as toast with spreads like marmite, vegemite, jam or honey.
Keep it simple and easy and things they like - the key here is to eat breakfast which, in turn, gives a good start to the day.
Half way through the day many brains have taken in as much as they can for one day and concentration just isn't there for the afternoon lessons. If you give your child money for the tuck shop, talk to them about the possible food choices and ask them each day what they had. Encourage healthy choices. School menus thankfully have improved since the time their parents were at school, so there is a much healthier selection to choose from.
Pack lunches can include things like:
Brown bread sandwiches, cut into small pieces, which is less of a visual challenge than large ones. Choose fillings they enjoy, like cheese, cold meat, salad or spreads.
Fresh fruit. You can buy containers that help protect soft fruits that don't travel so well.
Cut carrot sticks or oranges into segments with the skin still on.
Make a pasta salad and add a small container with salad dressing for them to pour on at school.
Note that most schools have a "no nut" policy due to many child having severe nut allergies. That removes nuts from your list of possibilities but you can add in dried fruit instead, like apricots or raisins.
Make lunches - the effort is worthwhile (Image courtesy of Taste.com.au)
It does take time to make lunches but the effort is worth it. You can also freeze items such as muffins, banana bread, carrot cake etc. which speeds up preparation time.
Buy a lunch box that stays cool longer and keep spare ice packs in the freezer, as wilting, warm lunches really don't encourage kids to eat well. Ask them to bring home anything they haven't eaten, instead of putting it in the bin at school so you can see each day what they have had.
Once school goes back
(Image courtesy of englishcornerlosalmendros.blogspot.com)
Check bags for letters from school. They will be the crumpled bits of paper right at the bottom on the bag containing important information.
Before you commit to extra activities take time to consider the logistics of time, place and traffic route, especially when you have more than one child. If it doesn't work easily then it will create more stress than benefit for you and your child.
Remember your child will be really tired the first few weeks, especially the little preps, so keep to bedtimes or you will soon have a tired, grumpy child on your hands.
Make a timetable of commitments and put an extra copy in the car, for those days when you can't remember where you should be, before your activities become an established routine.
The countdown is on but don't be rushed, take some timeout (Image courtesy ofImage courtesy of triplem.com.au)
This section is not about discipline, it's about making the most of the last days of the holidays. Reward good reports from last year with a special day out. Praise positive things and make more of effort than academic results.
Term time becomes hectic very quickly with homework, after school activities, sports fixtures and tests so take a bit of time to pack a picnic to have at the park or the beach. Enjoy some lazy time relaxing, before it all starts again for another year.
Thanks for some good points - particularly about the after school activities. I made that mistake one year with my eldest but as my little preppie heads off this year we'll be keeping it nice and simple - at least for the first couple of terms!