Get back into a routine
With some of us working from home during the pandemic, returning to manic mornings and regular school runs is bound to come as a shock to the system. Ease yourself in gradually, advises Michelle. “I ensure we continue to do activities in the mornings throughout the summer so that we are used to getting out of the house by a certain time. I also try to get as much sorted as I can the night before.” Minimise packed-lunch panic by doing as much preparation as possible. Lay their uniforms out and put their shoes and bags near the door.
Make a uniform checklist
Who doesn’t love a list? Seeing everything written down is helpful and you can tick each item off as you sort it, giving you a satisfying glow. Your checklist could include: uniform (sweatshirt/jumper, shirt, trousers, dress, skirt and shorts), shoes, socks, PE kit (including trainers), coat (thinner jacket for autumn and a thicker winter coat), gloves, hat, scarf, school bag, water bottle, lunchbox and food for lunches and snacks. “Make sure that what you buy lasts; buy bigger sizes for longevity and really robust school shoes,” says Michelle. “I buy shoes with reinforced toes and once a pair lasted my little boy an entire year!”
Avoid last-minute panic
There’s nothing worse than racing to the shops the Saturday before school starts, only to find that they don’t have your child’s size. Buy in batches throughout the summer so you spread the cost and swerve last-minute anxiety. Shop around for the best deals. “We buy a mix of cheaper supermarket things, online bargains and second-hand items where we can,” says Michelle. “Most schools have a second-hand uniform exchange, which is a great way to save money and the environment.” Note that these may be on hold at the moment due to the rules around the pandemic.
Ever bought a pricier school logo sweatshirt for your child, only for them to return home in a badge-free cheaper jumper? The solution is to label, label, label, says Michelle. “We buy both stickers and funky coloured iron-on labels. This year we’ve also bought a name stamp. Above all, label absolutely everything and teach your child to recognise their own things.” As we head into autumn, wellies, gloves, hats and scarves are a teacher’s worst nightmare. “They end up everywhere!” says Michelle, “I regularly have a mountain of lost property to sort. Everything looks the same so that’s why I’m so keen on labelling. To reunite them with their items, the children sit on the carpet as I hold up clothes. It makes me laugh when they recognise them by a specific yoghurt stain or doing the ‘sniff test’!”
Prepare your child
If your child is just starting school, it’s time to prepare them for their new-found independence. It’s important that children practise some basic skills, such as being able to change shoes, put on a coat and jumper, change into a PE kit and go to the toilet by themselves. “In a room with 30 children and only two adults, the best thing for your child is to be as self-sufficient as possible and the adults will help with the rest,” says Michelle.