Every year there are well over a million children across South Africa who start the new school year. Yet, most of the preparation for the new year will start even before the schools open. Getting ready to go back to school is a huge event and can be a little harrowing to those families who are going to school for the first time, or who are moving to new schools.
We share some helpful tips to prepare the whole family for this momentous occasion and cut out all the unnecessary stress, leaving your child to be excited and well prepared.
Creating A To-Do List
The better prepared you are for back-to-school, the less stress you will be left with. Check these items out that you can tick off your to-do list well in advance.
Early in January of the new year
Now would be a good time to get all the shopping out of the way.
- Tick of the stationary list that you would have received from the school
- Make sure that you have the correct uniform ready
- Buy a calendar or download a calendar app that can help you to keep track of all of the activities that will take place especially in the first few weeks.
- Buy new lunchboxes, if needed, and don’t forget water bottles!
The week before school starts
Prepare all the final details for total peace-of-mind.
- Speak to your child about any anxieties that they might have. The more you talk to them about this, the more the will feel comforted that you will support them through this shaky time.
- Make sure that everyone is on board with the school rules. It can be disruptive when your child wears a special piece of jewellery only to have it removed the moment they step into their new classrooms.
- Label everything! Label all of your child’s clothes, lunchboxes, bags, stationery and books before school starts.
- If your child has not been in any kind of routine, now would be a good time to allow them to get used to it. Set up a schedule of an appropriate bedtime, when to get up in the morning, followed by breakfast, getting dressed and being ready for the day. This way your child won’t feel disorientated on their first day.
The week of the new school year
- Find out if your child’s school has an orientation day. Most schools will have a day just before the start of school to allow their newest members (Grade 1 going to the big school and Grade 8 going to high school) to visit the school and orientate themselves. This includes an opportunity to familiarise themselves to their new school, like knowing where the bathrooms and classes are. Or, in Grade 1, to unpack all of their new stationery to be ready for the first day.
- Consider doing a practice run to school and back so that you can determine the best routes to school, depending on the suburb you live in.
- Double check the date that the school starts! Even though the school year officially kicks off on the 7th of January this year, some schools will only open by the 9th. Private schools have slightly different dates than those elected for governmental schools.
The day before school starts
- Allow your child a good night’s rest so that they can wake up fresh and ready for school.
- Pack their school bag with a healthy lunch. Store it close to the front door where they can grab it easily before leaving.
- Pack a healthy breakfast out. Preparation can save a lot of time and stress.
Morning of the first day
- Stick to your designated routine. Effective time management will help to keep fluttering hearts a little steadier. Don’t forget to budget some time to take a few photos!
- Leave early! There is nothing as stressful as getting stuck in that first-day-traffic and run the risk of being late.
- If your child is starting Grade 1, you will likely be allowed to walk with your child to their new classrooms for the first few days. Older children are mostly left to their own devices. This is mostly because they are already accustomed to the school and the teachers.
- When your child returns from school, show extra interest in what they did and how they felt about their day. Show them that you are their biggest fan to help them settle quickly in their new circumstances.
Back to School is an exciting time for all families across the country. Make this a fun experience for everyone in the family be incorporating these easy tips to prepare everyone at home.
Read our article on what to do if your child has to go to a new school, for more useful advice on school going children.