Back to school – what you need to know, do and buy

There’s plenty we need to sort before September rolls around and our kids are back in school, like: uniform, stationery, lunches and familiarising ourselves with the year’s curriculum. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg...


Back to school can be an exciting or nerve-wracking time for little ones – but it can also be a bit of a stressor for mums and dad, to say the least ?


Only because there’s SO much to think about: all the things to put on your to-do list, the decisions to make, and the long, flowing list of things you need to buy.

And this is on top of all the stuff you did when they started school for the very first time ?

Worried? Stressed already? Simply check out our guide to help you navigate the run up to the first day of term…

Shopping for back to school

stationery for kids

We’d say there are 4 parts to your back-to-school shopping spree – but don’t panic, we’ve tried to make them as quick and painless as possible.

1. Firstly, consult our back to school shopping checklist.

Not to toot our own horns – but this checklist is basically the bible of back to school shopping. It tells you only what you actually need – quantities of uniform basics and everything. Especially handy if you’ve lost your school’s uniform list…

2. Buy your basics. Here’s the ultimate guide to 2018 school uniform options from the major UK supermarkets and department stores.

3. Buy your logo items. Many schools require branded jumpers or blazers, so you’ll have to add ‘visit the school uniform shop’ to your to-do-list, too.

4. Now, time to think about stationery, backpacks, lunchbags and other essential items…

Which class should my child be in?

uniform kid

For many parents, this won’t give you too much pause for thought. Your child will be put into their next classes automatically, and that’ll be that.

However, it IS something you have to mull over if you’ve got twins. Do you want to them to be in a class together, or give them the chance to thrive separately in different classes?

You may also have to consider which class your child goes in if they have autism, or special needs.

It can be tough for little ones with extra needs to adjust to ‘mainstream’ school classrooms (as one mum candidly shared with us in this touching personal essay), so you may want to ensure you’ve got a meeting set up with the teachers to discuss how they’re equipped to deal with those needs.

This’ll be important especially if your child’s not just going up a year, but moving from nursery to primary, or primary to secondary, therefore changing schools altogether.

How to prepare your child with autism for school

What will they be studying?

d is for dog

We’re not expecting any mum or dad to have a day-by-day account of what their child’s being taught. As if we don’t have enough going on ?

But if they’re going into reception, they will be starting to learn phonics, and learning how to read.

So, it’s good to think ahead and maybe be aware of what’s to come from the curriculum at home: here’s our parents’ guide to phonics, and if you’re already practising reading: here’s the 45 words your child will learn to read first.

Did you also know that little ones as young as 4 and 5 will be doing basic literacy tests in their primary school, too?

Yep, that’s a thing… and the tests don’t stop there.

6 key primary school tests your child will have to take

Hot dinners vs packed lunches

packed lunch

They’ve got their uniform and stationery sorted, you know which class they’re in and you’re clued up on all the primary school tests. Phew!

But have you decided whether they’ll be eating a packed lunch everyday, or whether you’ll be paying for school dinners?

As it happens, every child in England is entitled to a free school meal – up until (and including) Year 2. It differs elsewhere in the UK, though.

It also gets more complicated to claim beyond Year 2, as you’ve got to apply via your local council, and you need to meet a certain financial criteria to get them.

These kind of applications can take a while, so it’s best to do them well in advance.

School dinners – everything you need to know 

Alternatively, if you’d prefer a packed lunch: that’s awesome! Here are a few fab, creative packed lunch ideas you can try.

A packed lunch also brings its own challenges, too. We’ve all heard of schools ‘policing’ what parents give their children – so you may need to look up your child’s school’s healthy eating policy.

It’s a judgy, judgy world out there. No wonder one of our mums recently confessed: “I’m dreading the school packed lunch!”

Dealing with change in the routine

crying child

If you’ve got all of the above sorted, then you deserve a gold star for effort. In fact, you can have ’em all ???

But after 6 weeks off – weeks often jam-packed with trips to the park, fun activities and even holidays – there’s no telling how your little one will react to going back to school ?

Introducing the idea that non-stop fun times at home are coming to an end is a good place to start – and here are 5 brilliant (and encouraging) books about going back to school to help you do so.

You may find they’re super upset on the first day of term, too, a total heartbreaker for the parent dropping them off – so here’s how to say goodbye when your little one’s crying at the school gates.

Of course, it’s a big adjustment for mum and dad, too! Six weeks with no school run, and now it’s back to the ol’ playground politics and school mums WhatsApp groups…

Which of these 4 school run mums is most like you? 

Anything else?

back to school

That’s it! You’re all done – your child should be as prepared as poss for their first day back at school in September.

Now, we just need to navigate all the interesting things they’ll get up to while they’re actually there…

One of our mums realised her child was telling porky pies about the goings on in her new class preeeetty quickly ?

Have your say

Is there anything you think we’ve missed, that would *really* help parents prepare for their little ones going back to school? Please tell us on Instagram or in the comments below…

Images: Getty Images

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