There’s always lots of advice when your children first start school. But often you never find out the really useful tips until you’re a few years in. By the end of primary school you’re a pro and all your school hacks and the time before you knew your shortcuts are forgotten about.
So what are the really useful tips whatever the age of your children.
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Really useful tips for school
School uniform tips
Check with other parents and the school to see if they have to wear logo t-shirts, and specifically if they always wear a jumper. Some don’t widely advertise that they don’t have to have logo tops, so it’s worth checking. The same with school PE kits. When they say XX colour jogging bottoms, do they really mean any dark plain colour.
Ask around uniform suppliers to see if it’s cheaper to buy the logo embroidered badges to sew on to cheaper plain polo shirts or jumpers. Ours are mostly just the embroidery straight on the t shirt, but one supplier just puts on a badge. Worth an ask.
Don’t buy expensive sew in labels. I made the mistake of buying what my mum used to have for our labels. But nowadays you can get iron on, stick on, or even stamps. Sometimes a fabric labelling pen will be ok depending on how you wash items (Sharpies bleed on labels, so not as good!). Just be aware that if you’re buying second hand stickers might be better as you might be covering other people’s names. Some name sticker labels are better than others – we love Stikins as they’re immovable even after 2+ years of washing water bottle, washing clothes and a year of shoe wearing. Worth the price.
This applies to ordering logo uniform – to guarantee delivery before the start of term you want to be ordering in July.
Also buy ahead for non branded uniform, especially if your child was born in higher birth ‘baby boom’ years (2010-2012). Or if you want regular style or a slim fit. We prefer M&S school trousers* (or Next as a back up) due to the nicer fabric and fit options. But now many styles tend towards skinny or slim style, it’s so hard to find the size we want. (No age 9-10s grey trousers available in August or September in store or online, good job N’s old ones just about still fit!). Stores do have uniform promotions – M&S tends to be before school holidays (around June time), Sainsbury’s clothing is usually 2nd week in August. Keep a watch out online through the year.
Second hand uniform
Look out for second hand uniform. Recycling places can’t usually take logo uniform so look out for places locally. Often schools will have second hand sales selling items for the PTA for £1 a piece. Alternatively ask on local Facebook pages – our area has a uniform swap community place set up for different local schools. If you’re getting rid of uniform and these aren’t in place, why not offer them to the feeder nursery school as they’ll probably have parents to pass it on to.
Communication and information
Read, read and read
You’d think it was obviously to read the newsletters and emails that come from school. But people don’t. Itt always amazes me how many questions there are on Facebook and Whatsapp groups for school asking about things that have been in the newsletter for weeks. Ours is really good at communication, with a ‘what we’re learning and reminder email on Mondays, and newsletter on Fridays. Other information reminders comes out as required. But some schools do less. If they send from a 3rd party email provider, check your junk folder and whitelist the email address to make sure you get them.
Ask your children
Get your child used to retaining information they’re told from early on. They’ll get used to the questions you need answers to, and over time will be able to filter that information to bring home.
Follow school procedures
Make your child’s life easier, yours, and the school’s, but doing what they ask. It’ll save extra communication going out, little niggles will be reduced, and the teacher will have less stress about non teaching stuff.
Get basic essentials at home
Have essentials ready in advance to avoid running out and not being able to replace items. Our school provide book folders for key stage 2, but N goes through the first one so quickly. I’ve found the ones that work well and last longer on Amazon (plus fit everything in), and before the previously one breaks, I’ve ordered another wallet* ready to go.
If you’re all buying school uniform at the same point, put in an order with friends to only pay one delivery charge. Or buy any sports equipment or stationery you need as a group. Sometimes items will be cheaper the more you buy, or see if you can buy via the school.
Get organised with storage and calendars
Use colour coding and folders for storage of current or old work you want to save. Have a school equipment stationery box or caddy which is easily reachable for homework. Have easy schedules or calendars stuck up where everyone can see.
Get children trained as time goes on
I’m a big believer in children taking ownership for their own school day as soon as they can. It isn’t always easy – I still sort out N’s jumpers he leaves multiplying downstairs, and sometimes set out his clothes for the next day for school. He can do it and will rootle through his drawers to find the smaller t-shirts. But then I end up with clean clothes he doesn’t wear being automatically put in the wash basket (on the floor or crumpled into the drawer). So it’s easier to just do it myself. He does pack his book folder and bag himself, and will organise his water bottle and snack (plus make his lunch if he’s having a packed lunch). Build them up to it, at least for the things that you’re willing to let go of.
Talk to school
Ask school about new techniques and methods used. Maths in particular has changed a lot since I was in school. Schools may put on phonic or maths sessions for parents, so they understand the methods used. This helps them support their children in homework efforts. If you don’t understand how it’s being done and your children can’t explain it, then drop the teacher a note. I usually just put a comment in N’s homework book, but use whatever method your school and the teacher prefer.
Hopefully these school tips help if you’re new to children being in school.
What tips for school children and parents would you add?