We love coming across North Shore mums who are keen to share their been-there-done-that experience with others. After all, much about being a great parent comes via trial and error, and so it always helps to have the advice of others who have been on the frontline before you.
Starting Kindy can be very daunting, and not just for the kids! NSM Kate Pereira decided to list her Kindy survival tips to help mums and their kids have a smoother transition into school life. She wrote on the NSM Facebook Group:
‘With Kindy orientations just around the corner I thought it might be nice for us mums whose kids started this year to offer some advice to the new Kindy mums of next year. My son started this year and I will be honest: I had no idea what I was doing. So here are my tips – take them or leave them, these are just my personal thoughts, and I am by no means an expert.’
1. Don’t buy a fancy lunch box
It will inevitably get lost. I originally wanted to get a bento-style box but couldn’t find one I liked (or could afford). I ended up with a simple sandwich box, some small containers and a large lunch bag to put them in. This way, if he lost one of the boxes it was not the end of the world. Same with drink bottles – cheap and cheerful is great. If possible, get containers where the lids are attached and fold back – one less thing from them to lose.
2. Label everything down to their socks!
3. Stock up on school uniforms
My son is a grub. For his summer uniform I ended up getting two pairs of shorts, three shirts, one pair of sport shorts, one sport shirt, two jumpers, two hats, and heaps of socks. The two hats and jumpers was so that in a rush we could always find one, and if they got lost it was not a mad scramble to the uniform shop.
4. Don’t assume you have to buy all of the uniform from uniform shops
Generally, anything with the school emblem on it you do, but there are some very affordable (ie cheaper than the school shop) independent school uniform shops that are usually run by mums.
5. Think about the extras
We went with the chair bag (not all schools use them), library bag and art smock. He has never used the art smock!
6. Consider care before and after school
If you want to use before and/or after school care make sure you have their name down now. Before and after school has been great for my son to get to know some kids in the other years and classes.
7. Book vacation care early
If you plan on sending the kids to vacation care at the school, I would suggest booking them in for a week or two before term 1. It may seem really scary sending such a tiny person to vacation care, but it really helps them settle in and get the lay of the land before school starts.
8. Try and make friends
In your year, but also with a mum who has kids in an older year – they are a wealth of information!
9. Don’t assume your kid will come home exhausted
I was looking forward to having a tired kid who would go straight to sleep at night – I’m still waiting for this to happen!
10. Get wise about shoes
If you have a boy who is rough on shoes look to buy those school shoes with reinforced plastic over the leather at the front. We had to buy a new pair mid way through the year (not happy, Jan!). Also, we bought black sport shoes so that if he misplaced his school shoes he could wear his sport ones in the interim.
11. Relax, cry if you want…
It’s all good, and an exciting journey!
More advice from other North Shore mums…
- If you have a daughter, try to get a summer dress for each day of the week (three or four depending on how many sport days there are). This saves the stress of washing every day and making sure the clothes dry in time, etc. I bought one lovely brand new one, and the rest were secondhand from the school uniform shop.
- Don’t be afraid to buy secondhand jumpers. In my experience these get lost first before hats or any other item.
- Definitely buy the school library bag extra – our school uses them for excursions. I didn’t buy it for a few years and it was a scramble every time my daughters needed one for small outings to find another small backpack in the house they found ‘acceptable’.
- My girls are really small and very skinny. School uniforms, in even the smallest size, were huge and uncomfortable and hot! I went to a dressmaker and for a small fee she took them up and put darts in the back that could be let out as they grew. We have never let them out, but still do this small adjustment as they get the next size up and it looks a lot better on them.
Joann: Pack a spare uniform in a bag. My boy has at least a pair of shorts, undies and socks. Accidents can happen, particularly if they are getting used to a new routine.
Melissa: Take photos of all notes that come home, as they come home! They are easily accessible to view on your phone or tablet instead of searching through piles of clutter (or the recycling bin!) to find that particular note.
Rosemary: As a mummy who works full time, sometimes connecting with school can be very difficult. I’d like to suggest going to the P&C meeting if you’re able to. Generally on during the evening once a month during term time, the leaders of the school will be there. I get a wealth out of ours and have met some of the best women and men in the school this way.
- Make sure you know what time you can drop off and pick up. Our school has a drive-through, but you have to enter from a certain direction. No-one told me this until week two, and it wasn’t in the mountains of crap they send home in the first week. Instructions were in the second week bulletin. We’re supposed to put morning tea in a paper bag, lunch in a lunch box and have fruit for fruit break, too.
- Get a distinctive key ring for your child’s bag so they can find their bag easily.
- We have two Tupperware lunch boxes (one kid) … because sometimes I forget to put the dishwasher on.
- Make lunch the night before.
- Find out about the canteen and maybe get them a wallet if you’re going to let them buy stuff.
Kellie: Start collecting your change now .– 50c, $1 and $2 coins. There is always a little fundraiser of some sorts, Freddo Friday, Year 6 mini fete, and the weekly school banking, to name a few.
Fiona: When your Kindy child loses a jumper or hat, always get them to check their chair bag!
Belinda: I freeze a bunch of sandwiches on Sunday arvo, too. Kids just grab what they want as they pack their bag. They’ve defrosted by the time they eat it. Never complained.
Roxane: Don’t forget to take photos of their first day at school. It happens only once a life, but you may be so focused on your little one’s feelings, and it’s such an overwhelming day for you, that you could forget it and regret it.
Gabriela: My daughter started school this year and has food intolerances (dairy and gluten) so can’t eat any cakes/cupcakes the kids bring in to school for birthdays. So, I bake some for her each term and keep them in a freezer at the school office. Her teacher just takes one out in the morning so she doesn’t miss out on the treats!
- Avoid laces for as long as possibles (even if your uniform list says laces, still buy Velcro)! Yes, tying laces is a life skill, but if you have a boy, they don’t care if they walk around with their laces undone, walk into the bathrooms, then what’s on the floor ends up being soaked into the laces!
- Two lunch boxes – one for lunch, one for morning tea. This may seem like it’s bulky, but in Term 1 especially, they can’t control themselves. If all their food is in front of them, what they see, they will eat. If they only have a small amount of food in front of them, this is all they will eat.
- Give your child independence and make them carry their own bag. They have to survive all day without Mum/Dad, they can manage their own bag.
Helen: I have two kids at school. I’ve made a ring binder for each (colour coded) with dividers. As each piece of paper comes home I sign it and file the bit you keep. You WILL need to refer back to it. I have a section for class lists (good to keep each year), notes, passwords, etc. We have a homework stand (like a magazine rack) for the homework books (maths, spelling, news topics etc) in it. Also, I bought a desk organiser with a stash of pens, pencils, erasers and staplers, and put it on the dining table for homework. No looking for equipment. Easy to move off when dinner time.
Wow, there are some wise words up there! If you have anything you’d like to add, please list it in the comments section below.
More on kids starting school…