Not long to go now! Depending on where you live, there are 2-3 weeks left of the summer holidays.
So to help you make it to the first day of school, we’ve compiled a handy list of the things you could be doing between now and then to help get your child and you ready for the big day. This is mostly written for ‘first timers’ or early school years, but some of the suggestions can apply even up to those entering Year 12.
And don't forget the Schools Bonus of $410 a year for every primary school child and $820 for every secondary school child. So many families who are eligible don't claim it. Find out more here.
Best wishes for a terrific year.
- Ask your child – regardless of age – to list five reasons why they like school or, if going for the first time, why they will like school. This is about reinforcing the positive experience of education, so ignore any suggestion of writing down what they don’t like from an older one!
- Be sure of your household policy on school lunches. Are you making them every day? Is there a treat once a week of the school canteen? If so, what is on the menu?
- Write down some school lunch ideas – including healthy ones – and a menu plan so they don’t have the same thing every day.
- Make sure they have something to put their lunch in and that they have a water bottle.
- Practice making school lunches and eating them over the final weeks of holidays.
- Does the school have a dress policy? Is there a uniform? Is there a stipulation for skirt length? What about sports gear? Can children wear earrings? What about girls’ hair?
- Purchase the uniform or, if the school has no uniform, work out together what they’re going to wear. Don't forget sports gear if it's needed.
- Make sure they have something to cover their head when outside.
- Get fitted for new shoes.
- If they have shoes that need cleaning or polishing, do it now. Let them know the routine for maintaining their polished condition throughout the year. Every night? Once a week? Who does it?
- Are there school policies your children should know? For instance, no eating in the street when in school uniform? Or all text books to be covered in clear plastic? Or no earrings to be worn?
- If you have a list of items and books to have from day 1, make sure you buy them. If your child likes having them covered, do so beforehand.
- This one is particularly relevant if you’ve moved interstate during the holidays: make sure you know of any ‘local’ variations to things. This helps avoid what seems like excruciating embarrassment for children (spoken from experience!).
- Practice getting to school each day. Are they walking? Going by bus or some other public transport? Do you need to buy special tickets? Or are you driving? How long does it take? How long do you need because of the traffic or if it’s really hot and it takes longer to walk?
- Does your child have after-school activities, eg. music lessons, dance, sport? If so, how are they going to get there? Practice getting there from school and back home (or whatever the arrangements are).
- Go to the school and meet the teacher, find the classroom, work out the location of the canteen, playground, change rooms, office etcetera.
- Are you from a monocultural background? If so, let them know they will be meeting people who look different, may sound different, eat different things, and emphasise how wonderful this is. If you can, take them for a trip before school starts to Chinatown or another area of your city that has a high concentration of people from different cultures to their own.
- Have your child clean and tidy their room.
- Start going to bed and getting up at school times. If your child would benefit from an alarm clock, get them one. Some need them – especially boys.
- Practice doing their hair the way it is to be done for school (some schools have strict guidelines for this). If they need a haircut, do it the week before.
- Are all vaccinations up-to-date? When did your child last have a general health check-up with your GP and go to the dentist? Do both before school starts/
- Does your child have any allergies or other medical conditions? Make sure the school and the teacher know and that your child is aware of what he or she should do if experiencing an episode.
- Make sure there’s space set aside at home for somewhere to do homework. This is particularly important for older children in final years of schooling but, if you have the capacity, it’s good to set aside a designated ‘homework space’ for your child. It’s important they know that homework is not something that’s done in front of the TV. Stock the ‘homework space’ with the right supplies – perhaps a printer, family or personal computer, pens, pencils, sharpeners, staples, paper, and that it has good lighting. If the space has to be shared by more than one child, or is a general family area, make sure each child knows the time they can use it so there’s no arguing.
- If your child is young, make sure they know how to print their name. If they can’t do so, do it for them and let them copy it.
- Work out where you’re going to put important papers, diary dates or projects. On the fridge? On a family calendar? In the child’s bedroom?
- Work out your system for ‘sign and return’ items so neither you nor your child forgets.
- Work out the routine for when your child gets home. Where does the school bag go? What about emptying of food scraps? Do they get changed? Do they have chores? Where do the dirty clothes go? Is homework done before or after dinner?
- What's your household policy on a phone at school? Work this out before school starts and let them know. Check with the school in case they have a requirement.
- Ask your child to write down three things they want to learn this year, then put it away until the end of the year. It might be something simple such as ‘writing my name’ ‘learning the 4x table’ or something more complex such as the formula for specific thermal capacity.
- On the night before school, have a special family dinner and talk to your child about your school experiences – your favourite teacher, your best friend, your favourite subject.