The summer holidays are looming and for both Pips and I, we won’t just be worrying about what on earth we are going to do for 6 weeks to keep the kids entertained; we’ll also be trying to get ourselves into gear as we prepare for the kids starting school.
In a previous post we talked a bit about getting the boys ready for reception and developing their independence skills, which is great, but then there is sooooooo much for the parents to consider and start getting ready in time for day one!
I thought I’d share a bit about my preparations and offer some tips, but the reality is there are probably another 50 things that could be added to this list, so if you think of a good one be sure to add it in the comments below because we’ve got to help each other get through this people!!!
First up there’s the matter of school uniforms. This alone is causing me a headache! How much of each item to get? What needs the school badge on, if at all? Do they have ‘houses’, so do they need different colours etc for P.E kits? And don’t forget I’m prepping for twins so I’ve got to double up and double check!
From what I can gather at our school is that only the t-shirts and jumpers need to have the school badge on and yes they do operate a ‘house’ system so they need a specific colour for their P.E kits. If you are unsure about your school then you have this week (only) left, so NOW is the time to get on the blower and ask them.
In terms of quantity this is what I’m planning; 3 t-shirts and 3 trousers, so that’s one on, one in the wash and one spare and 2 jumpers/shorts as I’m guessing they wont always have these on? P.E kits I’m only going for one set each as I’m guessing they wont do P.E everyday?
For those of you who have girls, I’m guessing you have the extra cost of gingham dresses to consider too!
One of the biggest pieces of advice I have been given by other parents is to label EVERYTHING as they will likely come home in other children’s gear! I ordered a fab little pack from Stikets which comes with different size iron on labels, key rings to clip onto school bags, ribbons with fasteners to hang coats up with and some stickers to go in shoes. Needless to say we WON’T be losing anything… yeah right!
Whilst it’s great having labels on everything so other people know it belongs to your child, it also helps if going into reception your child recognises their own name written down, so use every opportunity you can to help them identify their name.
The School bag
I thought ahead on this one (for a change) and asked one of my sisters to get the boys a new bag each for their birthdays… saved myself a few quid there! Obviously one is a Toy Story bag and the other a Lego Movie 2 bag, and needless to say they will probably be wrecked by the time we get to September because they have been filled with toys and get dragged around everywhere.
But which bag they use is not the conundrum here, it’s what do you put inside? I must admit I had in my head things like a pencil case with a protractor, ruler, calculator etc in it, but I think I might be a few years ahead of myself. For us, we don’t need to take pencils etc with us but again make sure you check with your school!
Water bottles; another one to check off on your list with the school; do they provide them already? Ours do, so at this point I’m wondering whether the bags our Anna bought them are a bit on the large size haha.
Clothes; I think from what I can gather all we actually need to send in with them is a spare set clothes and a P.E kit/pumps? Obviously they will have homework and books to ferry to and from school too… and it might just be sooner than you think. We have been given some homework packs to do with them over summer!!!
The Morning Routine
It will come as no surprise to any parent of pre-schoolers that a routine/journey that may take 15-20 minutes in reality may take an hour and filling a summer full of activities is a challenge so why not plan a few mornings for practicing the routine? It’ll help both you and the kids get a feel for how your mornings are going to play out.
Start from the beginning with your evening preparations, breakfast routine, getting dressed and then the walk/drive. Most phones have a stop watch function on them so make best use it and perhaps make it a fun game and see if you can beat your records!
Getting the Kids Ready
It goes without saying that a good night sleep equals a more alert and functioning toddler, it also goes without saying that this can be a really difficult challenge for lots of parents.
Letting them stay up late during summer and throwing your routines out the window can be so easily done but then when it comes to September it may be a nightmare to get back to normality straight away. My plan for this summer is to keep to our routine. Obviously there will be times where I’ll be more flexible (like on holiday etc) but in general our 7-7.15pm bedtime will remain.
I do think we are reaching the point where we might need to start pushing the bedtime back but I’m conscious that starting school might change things for them so I’m going to stick with it for the next six weeks.
Here is a rough guide to bedtimes that I’ve found quite useful and of course the NHS have advice for parents too.
Did you know that school meals are free for children in Reception through to Y2? Great isn’t it!
I plan to make full use of it, not just because it saves me trying to make two pack lunches every evening/morning but because the menus nowadays are packed full of choice for them. Everyday in our school the children get a choice from a main meal (meat and veggie options) a sandwich or a jacket potato. We got to sample some of the food during an information evening and I’ve got to say it looked great!
There’s lots of misinformation about schools being sugar police when in actual fact each day in our school they get a pudding like apple crumble and ice cream. Yes, meals are much healthier than they were back in our day (I did love a Turkey Twisler though!), but they aren’t healthy at the expense of taste so I wouldn’t panic too much if you have a fussy eater at home.
Most schools will have example menus for you to check out, so if you haven’t seen yours yet then definitely ask for one as it will give you an idea of what sort of things your child will be offered and can help you prepare them, whether it be by cooking similar meals over the summer to test them out or to offer reassurances to them as for some children meal times can be an anxious time.
I’ve got to admit that 99% of the time when I talk about how we as a family are getting ready for school the conversation is about practical and physical readiness when in actual fact probably the biggest challenge and more important bit is about how children (and us parents) are feeling about it.
We’ve done lots of talking about what will happen in September to try and prepare them for the day to day routine of school, but it was only recently I had a moment of realisation that I wasn’t actually talking to them about their emotions and how they are really feeling about it all.
I’m using lots of excited voices and reassurances when we talk about reception which helps to combat the negatives but a good activity I’ve introduced is the ‘Emoji Game’ using my phone to get them to pick an emoji face for how they are feeling about certain bits. This gives you a good indication of the areas you might want to focus on over summer. Some of the areas we discuss are (but not limited to); making friends/meeting new people, wearing a uniform, sitting and listening, play ground activities, P.E, being in school 5 days a week, school dinners.
How are your preparations going? Let us know what things you are doing to prepare yourself and your little ones for the reception and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss our next post about preparing for the big day!