Back to school: a short survival guide.

sign-44373_640Yep. You can tell the summer holiday is almost over. The past month has been wall-to-wall with back to school offers – some of them more useful than others. From the middle of this week parents up and down England will be issuing commands and questions, often with raised voices and sometimes with a tone of urgency… ‘have you done your teeth?’, ‘I said put your shoes on’, ‘You left your lunchbox on the side?’

It’s time to get back into the routine and brave the school run. Now we’re sure you’re well prepared, but – to be sure you don’t have one of those OMG-how-did-I-forget-that moments as you pull up to the school gate – we’ve put together this short back to school survival guide. Just in case like.

Before, the night before

Some people will be getting ready from week 1 of the holiday, whilst most of us will be leaving it to the ‘spare’ couple of days after the final weekend. If you still haven’t prepared for going back to school – don’t worry you’ve still time – if you get to it in the next day or so.

  1. (Re)Read the school handbook – Virtually all schools, from primary to secondary, issue some form of handbook for parents. With any luck it’ll tell you/remind you exactly what school equipment, uniform, sports kit and style of shoes are acceptable. It’ll also tell you key points about the school day including when the gates open in the morning, the all important registration deadline (which is really crucial as schools are assessed on attendance  – and anything after the register is classed as unauthorised absence) lunchtime, playtimes, and pick-up times.
  2. Make the most of the last minute Back to School Deals – There’s still time to get to the shops and get everything together so your DD or DS goes off to school with everything they need. From summer shirt to winter coat and backpack to pencil case you’ll you might even find that the special offers are more special than ever as the all those Back to School deal windows reach their natural conclusion. Be warned though. Even picking a pair of boys school trousers is not as easy as you’d think. Fashion is creeping in. Will you choose Super crease, storm wear, flat front skinny or cargo (School Handbooks invariably don’t cover fashionable cuts  of cloth)?

The night before

  1. One last hoorah? If you do decide to make one ‘end of holiday’ treat (perhaps with a takeaway or a home movie) start early and make sure bedtime is prompt. Try and ensure there aren’t too many sweets and keep a takeaway as healthy as possible.
  2. Get Packed and prepared – Make sure everything is packed up and ready to go for the morning. Uniform and shoes are readied. Backpacks or bookbags, sports kit and – of course – wet weather gear for our unpredictable climate!
  3. Set a routine – Explain to your children what will be expected of them, by when and how you would like mornings to work. If they understand what’s needed and are clear on some ground rules they might just manage to be ready on time. To keep focus  – it’s a good idea to ensure technology (tablets, TVs and computers) is kept switched off before school.

The first day back 

  1. Rise and shine – Get them up in good time, which could well mean getting yourself up in good time too (if you’ve fallen into a lazier summer holiday routine). Set an alarm.
  2. Stick to the routine – start as you mean to go on, so stick to your routine from day 1. Explain to your children what it will be and what’s expected of them by when.
  3. Full of healthy goodness – make sure they’ve had a decent Breakfast – try and keep it healthy (not just super-sugary cereals). Porridge, eggs or oily fish will keep them going throughout the morning, along with some real fruit juice.
  4. Car, Bus, Tube or Foot? If your school is within walking distance, your routine has run to schedule and the weather is good you could take shanks’ pony. Older children might like to bike or micro-scooters (provided their school allows it and they ride/scoot responsibly). If you’re further away it might be bus, tube or car. If it’s car – leave enough time to find a place to park as well as making the drive to school.

At the end of the day

  1. Don’t forget to collect them – sounds crazy – but happens more often than you’d think. They’ll be desperate to see you, so it might be tactful to get there in good time. That way – the moment the door opens and they’re let out, you’re there to greet them and see how their day went.
  2. Don’t expect a full recount – How was school today? is a question that’s usually met with a muffled ‘OK’ and not a lot more. Try not to bombard them with questions the moment they get in the car (they’ll have had a tiring day). Leave it until later – perhaps after their evening feed – to see what they’ll tell you.

We hope you (Parents and Children) have a terrific term.

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