Back to School Tips & Tricks

17 January 2018
Back-to-School Tips
The start of a new year means that a new school year is not far away either! Once you've got through the silly season and have had some time to relax, it's time to start thinking about back-to-school preparation. Here are some tips to get your whole family back-to-school-ready!
Planning, preparation, communication and organisation all go a long way towards making back to school easy and stress-free for both kids and parents. Get everyone in the family involved in the planning and preparation - that way each person knows what the plan is and has a role in building a routine that works for all the members of the household. Think about practical things like school supplies, starting times and school lunches as well as other considerations such as ensuring your child is emotionally prepared and ready for the academic side of school. If you have children starting school for the first time or moving to a new school, it's even more important to make sure your family is ready. That way you can minimise anxiety and stress and focus on making sure attending school will be a pleasant, memorable experience for all.
Establish a Routine
The most important thing you can do is work out and establish a routine for each morning, for after school time and for evenings. Mornings especially can be difficult for families: everyone has their own priorities and timelines. It can be particularly difficult to adjust to a new term-time routine after the long summer holiday break, with lazy, easy days and sleep-ins transitioning to alarm clocks, schedules and deadlines.
  • Work out your plan for mornings well in advance of school starting back. This will give you a chance to start implementing the routine a week or so before the term begins. That includes starting your bedtime and wake-time routines too, so the first early morning is not a shock to everyone's systems! 
  • Establishing the routine before school starts back also gives you an opportunity to adjust the routine if it turns out it isn't working as expected. 
  • Prepare as much as you can the night before. Lay out the clothes for the following day, ensure that schoolbags are packed, and check that all homework has been completed. 
  • Try using a family calendar so that everyone knows when someone has an early start, after-school practice or a social event. 
  • Establish an evening routine that includes a homework schedule and preparation time for the next day, but also make sure you include time for kids to relax and play!
Familiarise Your Child with their School
If your child is starting school for the first time, beginning secondary school or moving to a new school, it's perfectly natural for them to experience anxiety and apprehension about the change. As a parent, there's lots you can do to help with this big life transition. 
  • Attend all orientation days and pre-term activities. Some schools have parents attend the whole time, while others start with parents and then have children attend by themselves. Whatever your school does, talk about it with your child so they know what to expect.
  • Tour the school before the term starts. Even if your child has visited the school before, it's a good idea to take them around the school just before they start there - things may have changed and it's a good refresher. Show them where the toilets are, the water fountains, the canteen, the library and their classroom. 
  • Try rehearsing the first day with them. Talk about what they can expect and get them to think of scenarios that could occur and how they might problem-solve them. That can also include rehearsing the morning routine and school commute too.
  • If possible, introduce them to their teacher and let them get to know each other. It's a good idea for parents to do this too - establishing a rapport with your child's teacher goes a long way towards school success and is useful if problems should arise. 
  • If you know another child attending the school, arrange for your child to meet up with them on their first day so they have a familiar face to greet them. If you don't know anyone, try meeting some families at school orientations and having some play dates beforehand.
School Lunches
Preparing school lunches can be time-consuming and stressful, especially if you have fussy eaters or allergies to deal with. Organisation is key to making lunch preparation easy and efficient. Lunches and snacks should be healthy and nourishing, and substantial enough to get your child through the day. 
  • Prepare a menu for the week. Get the whole family involved in planning the week's lunches and get them to help make them too! 
  • Establish a range of simple, easy-to-prepare items to mix and match with each other, so each lunch is varied but also appealing. Choose items that can be prepared the night before, or on the weekend and frozen.
  • Get your children involved in packing their own lunches. Establish a snack station in your pantry or kitchen, where kids can select their snacks for the day from a range of healthy items.
  • Don't forget to include a water bottle, so kids stay hydrated, especially in summer months. Encourage them to finish their bottle each day before home-time. 
  • Healthy food is not just for lunches either. Ensure that kids start each day with a good breakfast, so they have the fuel and energy to stay alert and active at school. A good breakfast assists with concentration and helps kids be successful at school. 
Prepare for Academic Success
Doing well at school doesn't just happen in the classroom. Parents can do a lot to ensure children are supported and academically prepared for the first day of school. It's important, however, to prepare children without putting too much pressure on them. Learning should be a challenge, but not an anxiety-inducing chore!
  • If possible, familiarise yourself with your child's syllabus before the school year starts. Encourage them to read any prescribed texts and ensure you have all the school supplies necessary for their studies. 
  • Before school starts, give your kids some study practice to help them establish good habits or get them back into the swing of studying and homework. Hinkler's range of School Zone titles are a fun way to encourage your child's study habits and will help them build good practices that will assist them through the year. Establish a dedicated study space for each child and help them develop a homework schedule.
  • Reading is vital for school success. Read with younger children as much as possible over the summer break. Encourage older children to read a certain number of books over their holiday period. This will keep their minds active and ready for school.
  • Help younger children skill-up with pre-reading and pre-writing skills. Hinkler has a great range of School Zone's 'Get Ready' titles that will build these skills and familiarise children so they are prepared for their curriculum. 
Back to school can be stressful, but with planning and forethought, it can be made a lot easier. A good start to a school year can set a child up for a successful academic year. Just don't forget to take your camera for those first-day photos and some tissues. And remember to set your alarms for that an early start! We wish kids and parents alike a happy, rewarding school experience!