Most children have been back to school for a few weeks now. The start of the first school term is a great time to make sure you’re organised for school. Take a look at these tips on how to be prepared for the new school year:
1. Stock Check School Uniform and Supplies
Traditionally, parents buy new school uniforms and stationery during the summer holidays. I find that it’s only once the kids have been in school for a couple of weeks that I get a good idea of whether we’ve really got enough school uniforms and supplies. For example, one year, we discovered that the girls’ school swimming lessons and after-school swimming lessons fell on the same day of the week, so they actually needed two swimming kit bags each in order to be prepared. This year, Danny has started a new course, so we’re discovering this week that he needs extra equipment, such as a technical drawing kit. As students begin their courses, you will find out their exam boards and topics in case you’re planning to buy the appropriate study guides etc too.
2. Update Calendars
Now that most schools have sent out their most up-to-date academic year calendar, make sure you add all relevant dates to your family calendar, planner and online calendar if you use one. It’s important to know when the school holidays and any INSET days are so you can arrange childcare if needed. Be aware of when important exams are taking place for your children so you don’t plan too many out-of-school events (or holidays) during this time. When dates for school trips and special events like school fayres are included too, this can help with your annual family budgeting. Be aware, dates often change due to circumstances beyond the schools control so always keep up to date with letters home, school apps, the school website, and social media pages. It’s a good idea to buddy up with a couple of school parents so you can help keep each other updated.
3. Print their Timetable
Your child will have a copy of their school timetable. You may have a copy on the school app or sent to you by email. It’s a good idea to print a copy of your children’s school timetables and put it up next to your family calendar or desk. This helps you all to quickly scan the timetable each evening to check everyone is organised for the day ahead and has everything they need ready the night before. For primary school children, this may just be checking PE and swimming days. However, for your secondary school aged child, they need to make sure they pack the right books for each lesson, so checking their timetable each evening is a great skill to encourage early on.
Now is the time to find out about your child’s school’s homework policy. Do they get given homework? If so, how much homework do they get? What days is it given out and expected to be returned? Once you have this information, you can help your children to get into a routine of doing a little bit of homework every night or their homework on certain nights of the week. If you feel your child is given too much homework and is struggling, talk to their teacher about it to nip any problems in the bud early on.
5. Extra-Curricular Activities
Most schools recognise the benefits that taking part in extracurricular activities brings. Alan Whelpdale, headteacher of Leicester High, one of the best schools in Leicester says his school’s vision is to:
“Provide an exceptional and ‘boutique’ all-round education which will prepare our students for happy and fulfilling lives, and, therefore, during their years with us creating memories that will last a life-time.“
Take a look at what extra-curricular activities your school provides. If there is something that your child is interested in then encourage them to sign up. In addition to school extra-curricular activities, your child may also want to join after-school clubs. It’s tempting to take a break from extra-curricular activities when your child is going through exams, but remember they still need time for fun activities for their wellbeing. Kids have a lot of energy to use up and it’s great to keep them busy but make sure they have lots of opportunities for time off to relax too.
6. Look for Educational Opportunities
Once your child is back at school and excited about the new topics they are learning, you may spot out-of-school educational activities which will enhance their learning. For example, when my children are learning about The Victorians in History, I always take them to Scolton Manor Victorian Country House and St Fagan’s to see The Victorian School Room. Show them a DVD or take them to see a theatre play about a classic book they are reading. Enriching your child’s education does not have to cost a penny. Talk to them about what they are learning. Direct them to family and friends if they have knowledge of this. Take them to the library each term to find the relevant books about what they are learning. Look online for free resources. Talk to their teacher if you need help finding free resources. Keep education fun and enjoyable.
7. Arrange “Playdates”
Where possible (and if your child wants to) arrange play dates (or just “days out” for older kids) with kids in their class or lessons. It’s good for them to have friends they also see outside of school within their classrooms. Some kids are very social and see a lot of other pupils at after-school clubs or naturally enjoy spending a lot of time with their friends. Others may need encouragement to meet up with school friends occasionally. This will increase their confidence, social skills and enjoyment of going to school.
How have your children settled into school this term? Are you feeling organised and prepared for the year head?