Five tips for back to school bliss

Towards the end of January, millions of Aussie families are busy getting ready for the school year. For some it can be a stressful time. One way to make it a little easier is to be well-prepared. Why not try these easy hacks for back-to-school bliss.

1. Beat the rush

Don’t wait until the week before; avoid the last-minute rush by starting your school shopping early. 

Get your child fitted for uniforms and shoes as early as possible, and plan for growth spurts. Jennifer Johnston, mother of 13 year old twins, recommends getting leather school shoes fitted in early January. 

Make sure all your child’s items are labelled in advance. “Have all stationery and books named and covered,” Jennifer says. Don’t leave it until the night before. 

Also why not try and beat the queues by trying to shop online for certain items such as stationery and lunchbox items. 

Also try using the night before to get organised for the next day. Have uniform, shoes, books and bag laid out. “Rushing in the morning sends my kids’ anxiety levels through the roof,” says mum of three Sally, “so being as calm and collected in the morning as possible helps avoid that.”

2. Get acquainted

Familiarise yourself and your child with their school and also the trip to school. If your child is going to a new school, try to visit the school with them before term starts, and work out where the classrooms and toilets are. Maybe ask the school if they have an orientation day and sign your child up.
If possible, get a weekly schedule before school starts and go through it with your child. This will help you both know what you need for different days, such as equipment for sports and music classes.
School list

3. Get into a routine

Routines don’t happen overnight, so don’t leave it until the day before school starts to re-establish a suitable bedtime. 

“I find we have to start getting to bed early the week before,” says Susannah, mum to two girls, “because all routines have gone out the window and they are so used to staying up late.”

Sally recommends a quiet day at home and early night before the first day of school. That way, your children will be rested and will hopefully wake up with plenty of energy for the day ahead.

4. Communicate

Help your kids deal with anxiety about going back to school by listening and talking to them about their fears.

Empathic communication and a positive attitude towards change can help to allay their worries.

“Nerves are normal,” says the American Psychological Association, “but highlight that not everything that is different is necessarily bad. It is important to encourage your children to face their fears instead of falling into the trap of encouraging avoidance.”

5. Special tips for first-timers

Starting “big school” can be an exciting transition. KidsMatter, a children’s mental health and wellbeing initiative, have some helpful advice. 

Organise play dates before school starts to encourage social interaction and important skills like sharing and taking turns. 

Develop emotional skills by helping your child recognise and name their feelings. Encourage independence by allowing your child to take control over certain tasks (like dressing), and giving them choices (such as what snacks to pack). 

To aid early learning, practise listening and following instructions, and teach them to recognise numbers and letters.

Following these simple strategies can help make this potentially stressful time into the exciting experience it should be.

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