school

9 things I did to prepare my kids (and myself) for school.

ANZ
Thanks to our brand partner, ANZ

My daughter’s favourite dress at the moment is green with checks. It hangs past her knees and has a neat little zip up pocket on the left hand side. It’s difficult to get her to take it off, no matter how I nag and plead, but she is adamant.

She’s starting big school next year and she is going to wear her new school uniform as much as possible.

She wants to show the world that she’s a big girl now, all grown up in her new uniform.

She is ready.

I’m just not sure I am.

You’d think after going through it twice with my now six and eight year olds I’d have that whole starting school regime down pat. You’d think I’d be ready the third time around… but I’m not sure you ever are.

What I do know is that it pays to be prepared – and that’s not just making sure you’ve got the right amount of school uniforms.

1. Have I taught her enough?

I want my daughter to be ready to learn.

While I don’t expect her to be able to read or write, I do know that there are certain things she needs to know and others that it helps if she has a bit of a handle on.

I want her to be able to recognise – and hopefully write – her own name. I want her to be able to count and know the alphabet and I want her to be able to understand and follow instructions.

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"I want her to be able to count and know the alphabet." Image: iStock

2. Can I afford it?

With education comes costs, so you need to prepare yourself financially for the change in circumstances. ANZ's School Ready Research Report shows that 22% of Australians believe, “Saving for my children’s education” is the most important thing to save for, even more than a family home. From uniforms to supplies, to excursions and tutoring to extra-curricular activities, starting school is the beginning of a large financial change to your budget.

Then there is the consideration of whether you will go private or public, or a bit of both. In fact, sending children to private school is the second biggest financial concern for parents, at 16%, even higher up than healthcare (9%), or having sufficient life insurance (3%). It pays to be prepared and look at all your options. Thankfully, there are online tools available that can make the process a lot easier.

3. Have I prepared her emotionally?

Part of our job as parents is to prepare our children to let go; they need to be ready for that big step into the outside world. Little things like getting them used to talking to grown-ups and asking for help are important, but they also have to be resilient enough to cope with the classroom and confident enough to make their own way.

As much as we love Sadness from inside out, we want our little ones to be a little more resilient. Image. Giphy

4. Am I ready to hand her over to another grown-up to help raise her?

After five years of being in charge of what your child learns and how they develop, it’s time to hand them over to another adult to teach them. I have to say though, in many ways it’s a relief, finally someone else can answer all the “why” questions.

5. Will she EVER eat anything other than peanut butter sandwiches?

School comes with rules, and lots of those rules surround food. Apart from making sure they can open their own lunch box and get the lid off that squeezy yoghurt, what you put in the lunch box has to be healthy and it has to be safe. So no nuts, no eggs or seeds and some schools even ban certain types of fruit. It’s time to wean your little one off the peanut butter sandwiches.

6. The list!

There are not just uniforms and shoes to buy but also books, pens, pencil cases, library bags, dictionaries, tissues, wet wipes and iPads.

The list is endless.

7. What will I do about before and after school care?

With school comes logistics because whoever it was that invented the school day sure forgot to consult whoever it was that invented working hours. There are picks ups, drop offs, swimming lessons, soccer training and music classes (all to work around the lives of the rest of the family).

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If you start planning about now you might just have a schedule ready when school starts next year.

From swimming lessons to music classes, there's much you will have to plan around. Image: iStock.

8. How will I make friends?

The playground can be tough – there may be cliques and bullying, the in crowd and those on the edge – and that’s just the mums.

It’s not your child you need to worry about when it comes to friendships. It’s the playground politics you’ll need to negotiate.  If you know a group of local kids headed up to “big school” together it’s worth making yourself some new acquaintances now. That way you can ride out the highs and lows of starting school together. You never know, you might make some lifelong friends.

9. The lasts and the firsts.

It’s a bittersweet year, this one. Your last year together and it’s hard not to frame it through a series of lasts. Your last lunches for two. Your last trips to the playgroup. Your last mornings of push-me-higher-and-higher-and-higher-Mama at the park for hours on end. (Er, actually that I won’t miss!)
While you try to hold on to it and cherish it, wondering if you’ve made the most of every moment, don’t dwell on it too long. As heart wrenching as it is watching your baby blossom into a school child, the year of firsts ahead is filled with joy.

How did you prepare your little one for school?

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