Things other parents want you to know about your kid starting school

Not sure what you’re up for when your little one starts kinder or school? These mums and dads have been through it – and have recovered enough to share their top tips.

You’ve got the uniform, the shoes and a thick stack of forms to fill out BEFORE THE DUE DATE, so now what?

It might be your first rodeo, but seasoned professionals walk happily among us and they’re only too happy to share what they think every new school parent needs to know.

How to help your child make friends at school

“Use school orientation days as an opportunity to make new friends. Having a few friendly faces when they start school will make things a little easier for both the child and his or her parents” – Eleni, mum of a 10-year-old and seven-year-old.

“Put your hand up to do volunteer reading with the class if you can. It’s a good way of getting to know the kids in your child’s class and an even better way to gauge how well your child is doing by comparison” – Esme, mum of a six-year-old and 11-year-old.

“Make an effort to become friends with a handful of other parents. It’s important for your child’s social wellbeing yes, but it also means you can count on others to help you out in a pickle” – Kate, mother to a five-year-old plus two tots aged three and one.

“Don’t hang around the gate weeping or kissing them through the bars. Drop them off and beat it” – Derek, father of two primary school-aged kids and one adult.

“Signing your kids up to a school sports team can help them make them more friends. I find soccer is particularly good because the season starts early in the school year” – Helen, mother of two teens.

Budgeting tips for the school years

“Public or private, schooling costs a lot more than you could ever anticipate. Put aside an amount each week to cover the cost of those ‘little’ things such as school excursions, fundraising events and school photos” – Nia, mother to an eight-year-old and a 12-year-old.

“Purchase new uniforms but also buy a couple of second-hand backups from the uniform shop. This way you won’t have to do laundry mid-week if there’s an incident with exploding yogurt” – Katie, mother of a six-year-old.

“If your child is looking at enrolling in tap, ballet or soccer, always ask parents through your school app whether anyone has any old uniforms they’re willing to donate or sell. Kids tend to give up on extra-curricular activities pretty quickly at this age so there’s every chance the items will still be as-new” – Ben, father of an eight-year-old and 10-year-old.

“Resist the pressure to buy expensive stationery. Kindy kids don’t actually need to bring anything in, but if you find you can’t say no, cheap department stores have great pencil cases, gel pen sets and rubbers for next to nothing” – Ash, mother of a six-year-old and eight-year-old.

“Buy the school branded hats and jumpers but always buy cheap, generic backups from stores such as Kmart or Big W. It will cost you an arm and a leg to keep replacing the branded stuff with more branded stuff” – Charlie, mother of a nine-year-old.

starting school

How to keep your family organised

“Try not to sign them up for too many activities. They’re going to be exhausted that first year so keep their afternoon schedule as clear as possible” – Delia, mother of four kids aged from six to 16.

“Make a whole stack of sandwiches and pop them in the freezer for days when you’re running late for school or you’re just far too tired or busy to make it fresh” – Hugh, father of an 11-year-old.

“Get on top of everything as they come in, be it permission slips, RSVPs to parties and homework, because it’s easy to fall behind quickly. And don’t forget to put everything school-related in the calendar” – Lisa, mother to a five-year-old and 10-year-old.

“Check bags at the end of the day for notes, mushed fruit and dirty underwear. You’ll need to pack a clean pair every day during kindy because little ones can get side-tracked with play time” – Paul, father of a 12-year-old.

How to cope with the big changes ahead

“Your child will behave like a different person for a while but try not to panic. A whole new world has opened up to them and they’re testing boundaries. Believe it or not, it will pass” – Carolyn, mother of a seven-year-old and 10-year-old.

“Kids don’t need prepping; they are hardwired to be loving, accepting, obedient and sharing at the age of five. They will pick up on your anxiety so try to remain calm and trust them to sort it out” – Craig, a father of six (and a school teacher).

“Make time to read with them every day. Not only will they learn a lot faster, but it’s a good opportunity for you both to unwind in the evenings” – Robin, father of a 12-year-old.

And finally… some practical advice will save you lots of grief

“Spray your child’s hair with a tea tree oil and water blend each morning to keep head lice at bay” – Clara, mother of a six-year-old and a ten-year-old.

“Don’t get caught up in the whole ‘Instagram-level’ lunch thing. Kids often get so caught up with playing that much of it comes back in the lunchbox anyway” – Zoe, mother of a 10-year-old.

“Always teach your partner how to do a proper plait or ponytail. If you don’t, you run the risk of your daughters looking like they’ve been dragged through a bush whenever you’re away” – Lee, father of a six-year-old and 11-year-old.

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Written by Dilvin Yasa.