Dear newbie school parent,
I know right now you are buying school supplies and mulling over which drink bottle is the most spill-proof.
You might also be holding your heart, out of fear it might soon break in two.
I get it. I was you last year.
And even though I am only a school mum with one year of experience under my belt, there are a few things I know. Most of them I learnt the hard way, so please, let me share my wisdom with you and make your experience a little bit easier.
1. Get the spare hat
Right now all this back-to-school expense might be breaking the bank. I know. But there are some things your little one is GUARANTEED to lose in the course of the year. And yes, the school hat is one of them.
Even if yours comes with one of those rag-tag things where you are supposed to be notified (but never are!) if it turns up in lost property, you will want to have a spare.
It might take a few days to locate the missing one and as most schools have a ‘no hat no play’ policy, you don’t want your child to have to spend their breaks sitting on a bench because they’re five years old and put their hat in the wrong backpack. Even if the class has a spare, there may be other kids asking to borrow it.
Just get another hat. The second-hand clothing pool might be worth a look.
2. Go Velcro with the school shoes
Unless your child has really mastered the art of tying her own shoelaces, be easy on yourself and her on rushed school mornings. Velcro strap school shoes are the answer.
Most school shoe brands have a Velcro option for littlies so do yourself a favour, and save the laces for later.
3. Choose coloured containers
If you also have lunch box anxiety over which lunch box to buy and what to pack, I wrote this helpful post for you!
The main thing I learnt as a mum of a little kindy kid though, is that they need to know what they can eat at which breaks throughout the school day. For this reason, containers in different colours are a great idea for the school’s youngest students.
My son had a purple one for the fruit break (sometimes called ‘crunch and sip’), an orange one for recess food, and a blue sandwich container for lunch. Then I just shoved all three into one of those insulated lunch bags.
Oh! And buy two of everything. Just like the hat, these will also go missing. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!
4. Ditch the cling wrap
Kindy kids find plastic wrap and foil fiddly and we don’t actually need to wrap a sambo in it to keep it fresh, anyway.
An easy-open (just practice this with them so you know they can) sandwich box is the answer.
The environment will thank you too!
5. Buddy up with the class parent
The class parent is usually a more experienced school parent with kids in a higher grade as well as a younger one in the same class as yours. They are also one of those organised types, but on steroids.
The class parent will remind you when it’s library day by sending you a text that morning, right when you are packing the bag. They will give you a heads-up that it’s Mufti Day the following week, but also remind you the day before and again the next morning to bring that gold coin donation. They’ll email you what you need to know this term, and even give you a weekly schedule detailing library, sport and music days, so you can always refer to that.
In short, the class parent WILL save your butt!
6. Download the school app
If your child’s school has a school app, download it. Truthfully, you might find this more annoying than helpful. Mine tends to ping all day and I ignore it, but if you are able to select notifications that are relevant to JUST your child’s class, it can be a good source of school information.
But again, the all-knowing class parent will have your back.
7. Find out where the lost property is
You might just locate that missing hat, drink bottle or container!
My friend found she was searching through it on the third day of her son starting school. So yeah, the struggle is real.
Oh and if there is no name on the item, it’s free for all!
8. Know the canteen rules
Many schools don’t let kindy or prep kids order from the canteen for a period of time. Find out what the canteen rules are for your school, as (in my experience!) kids like to make these up.
And ALSO — and this is important — take note of the lunch order deadline. You don’t want to realise you’ve run out of bread and have left it too late to order sushi.
9. Check the school bag
When you go through your child’s school bag at the end of the day and cop a squished banana, make sure you check all the pockets.
You never know when an important note from the teacher has been placed in one, or your child forgot to tell you she’s been invited to a party, and the invitation is languishing in her bag.
10. Find the toilets
Lots of kindergarten and prep classrooms have a loo or one nearby. Make sure your child knows where these are, and also show her where the toilets are in the playground so she feels confident to use them when she needs to. Explain to her that the different pictures on each one indicate if it is the boys’ or the girls’ toilet, as she may be too little to read the signage.
And finally, you might still be holding your heart on that first day, and while I can’t promise you that it won’t break, I can assure you that it will start to mend as time goes on.
Just this morning my big Year One boy made me a card that said, “I luv mum. You are the best fing eva” – and just like that he can now read and write (well, a little!).
This is the end of one era but the beginning of a new one.
You’ve got this!