dad and kid

The ultimate back to school guide

Get your child ready for school with these handy tips for every parent.

Are you and your kids ready for the upcoming school year?

Is your child ready for school? For parents, it's hard to tell for certain because each child is different. Some kids may seem more ready than others, but some might be a bit nervous by what lies ahead.

One thing is for sure though: children will experience some level of anxiety when they are getting ready for the first day of school. It's important for you to help them prepare as much as possible.

School readiness is about more than just about being able to count or read and write. It's also about being able to take on the different challenges of going to the school head on. Readiness involves being able to be socially and emotionally capable of dealing with other kids, learning to share and resolving conflict. In this article we'll give you some tips on how to ease your child into schooling:



parents with kidsBack to school tips for parents

  • Talk regularly about school. Prepare your child early by regularly reminding them about going to school. Encourage them to talk about what they're feeling so that the reason for their anxiety will be addressed early on.
  • Prepare and eat packed lunch at home. This might seem like a small thing but some children do worry about eating away from home. Show them what their packed lunch would look like so that they will get used to it before the term starts.
  • Create a school schedule. Children need routines, but as soon as they start school their old routine will need to change. Write their new routine and discuss what they can look forward to.
  • Arrange a playdate. If you know other kids who will be in school with your child, arrange a playdate with them. It would mean a lot to your child to see a familiar face first thing in the morning when they arrive at new surroundings.
  • Teach them nursery songs. Young children like songs. Help them develop their abilities and confidence by teaching nursery rhymes and songs. This will surely be useful once they go to class.
  • Do a dry run. Get your child ready for his or her first day at school by doing a dry run a couple of days before school starts. Wake him up early, prepare the packed lunch and let him dress in the school uniform. It makes the concept of schooling become clearer.
  • Guard against separation anxiety. It is possible to minimise the amount of anxiety your child feels by looking relaxed about her going to school. Also, experts recommend that parents should not stay around but they should let their child know that they will be back after school.

Finally, it's important to note that adults can experience a certain level of distress in sending their child to school, particularly if your child is going for the first time. This reaction is normal and should be expected. You can minimise this worry by getting to know the school staff and other parents. Take heart in the fact that your child is now exploring the big and exciting world of learning.

Tips for parents with younger children heading back to school

There are special considerations you need to look into if you are a parent of a young child. They need more support and encouragement at this point in their lives compared to older children. Here are some tips you can follow:

  • Schedule medical checkups. Schedule a medical and dental checkup before classes start. It will eliminate hassles and sick days that can potentially leave your child behind in class.
  • Encourage extracurricular activities. Becoming a well-rounded person takes more than just completing assignments. Make it a point to encourage your child to take part in extracurricular activities.
  • Engage them in sports. Keep your child healthy body and mind by letting them try out different sports. Football, cricket and rugby are all played in teams which encourage sportsmanship while allowing kids to remain physically active at the same time.

Tips for going back to school

  • Buy school supplies early. Bookstores are usually packed at the start of the school year. Avoid the rush by buying all the necessary school supplies early. Use a checklist to make sure that you've got everything covered.
  • Reestablish routines. During the summer break, you most likely had no strict mealtime and bedtime routines. It can take a week before you get used to the school routine so start waking up early before term time.
  • Buy clothing essentials. Be sure to buy uniforms, socks, and undershirts early. This lets you avoid panic on the day before school.
  • Set the alarm clock. The last thing you want is to be late on the first day of school. So remember to set the alarm clock.
  • Create a meal plan. Start being conscious of your health by creating a meal plan. This enables you to have a balanced diet throughout the year.
  • Use a checklist. Having an "assignment notebook" is a must for any student. It ensures that you won't forget your homework assignments in math, science, English and other subjects.

school shopping

How to come up with a back-to-school budget

The back-to-school season is always an expensive time for parents. The cost of items such as backpacks, uniforms, school supplies and books eventually adds up. If you are on a tight budget, it may be a good idea to follow the 50/20/30 rule. Basically, it works like this:

  • 50 percent of your income should go to essentials such as housing, groceries and utilities.
  • 20 percent should be allocated for retirement accounts, university funds, emergency savings and debt payments.
  • 30 percent can be spent on non-essential items and one-off expenses. Your back-to-school budget should come from this percentage.

It is recommended that you come up with a specific amount you can spend for back-to-school supplies. Your kids can help in this process by deciding which items are 'needs' and which ones are 'wants'.

Below are other tips that can help you stick to your budget this coming school year:

  • Compromise on nonessentials. Every parent wants their child to have the coolest and the best things for school. However, your budget can only go so far. It is important to teach children the value of compromise. They can have a few cool things but that should mean that they have to go cheap on another item to fit the budget.
  • Use your creativity. Who said you need to buy everything brand new? Use your creativity to create new notebooks from the unused pages of old notebooks. You might even find other parents who are willing to give you used books in exchange for your children's used bags or backpacks.
  • Watch out for sales. It seems that every school supplies retailer charges full price when the back-to-school season starts. But the truth is, there are still some retailers that have the traditional yearly sales. Also, check the retailers here at finder.com.au for promo codes.
  • Compare prices. You can save a lot of money if you know which stores offer the best deals. Doing your research and looking at different offers stretches the value of your dollars. It is particularly important to do some price comparisons for big-ticket items such as electronics.

Conclusion

Being prepared for school before the term starts will have a significant impact on your confidence, attitude and performance once the assignments start rolling in. Remember that going to school can be fun but stress is almost unavoidable no matter which level you're in. So follow the tips outlined in this article to give yourself a head start in class.

More ways to save money on 'back to school

  • Prepare affordable lunch meals. Think of the type of lunchtime meals you will prepare as early as now. This will save you a lot of stress, hassles and money in the future. Determine whether a hard lunchbox or brown bags would be more suitable for your situation. Both have pros and cons so the choice depends on what is convenient for you and your child.
  • Buy quality writing items. There are a lot of cheap pens and pencils. However, these are usually of poor quality and you'll end up spending more than you have to. It is generally recommended to get a set of high-quality pens that will last for at least half of the school year.
  • Consider buying an ebook. If your child is already attending secondary school, they will be required to read classic novels and other literature. Buying an ebook reader might provide you with better value for money compared to paperback books. This is because many classic novels can be downloaded for free on ebook readers.

Things to remember when giving your children a fixed budget

It can be difficult for children to understand the concept of 'fixed budgets' if they have been used to getting what they want in previous years. This school year might be the time for you to teach them how to work with a fixed amount and here are some tips to help them along:

  • Explain what the money will be used for. Are you going to let your child buy his or her own shoes and backpacks? Or will he only be responsible for buying school supplies like crayons and pencils? Whatever the case, he should know upfront what the budget has been set aside for.
  • Provide guidance if necessary. Determine if you need to be hands-off or hands-on with the fixed budget challenge. Some younger children might find it hard to resist buying impulse items at the store. In this case you need to be more hands-on. If you are confident that your child can make good decisions, the guidance can be as simple as, 'have you bought your crayons yet?'
  • Discuss the consequences of overspending. It's important for children to know that there will be consequences if they don't stick to the budget. The consequence can come in the form of using old school shoes or backpacks if there is not enough left in the budget to buy those items.

In essence, the more children understand the basics of budgeting, the better their financial decisions will be in the future.


shopping school supplies

Shopping mistakes to avoid before school starts

  • Using the wrong credit card. Don't pay more than you have to. If it is really necessary to use your credit card to make a purchase, use one that has the lowest interest rate and offers the most reward points. You might be missing out on rebate opportunities so check the latest promotions offered by credit card providers.
  • Taking out payday loans. Because parents have back-to-school expenses only once a year, a lot of people forget to save for this throughout the year. The result is that they fall short of cash at a critical moment and take out payday loans. Avoid payday loans as much as possible. No matter how cool that backpack is or no matter how your child whines about getting a new sneaker, it does not justify the risk of getting into a financial hole.
  • Don't shop when you're rushed. It's easy to make impulse buys when you feel rushed or distracted, which can cause you to end up paying too much money. If you haven't done the shopping yet, try to order these necessities online. That way, you shop in the comfort of your own home.

Where do I get the cheapest school supplies?

It might be nice to send your children off to school with shiny new things to make them the star of the class, but it's not always possible to afford the price tag that comes with it. Fortunately, there are ways to get great buys at low prices. Here are some tips on how to get the cheapest school supplies:

  • Look around at home. Unless your child is starting school for the first time this year, there are bound to be 'leftovers' from the last school term. Do their markers and pens still have ink? Do your older children have old books that can be passed down to a younger sibling? You'll be surprised by the items you already have.
  • Shop online. Use the Internet to your advantage by using promo codes and taking advantage of exclusive deals. An additional benefit to doing your shopping online is that your kids won't be distracted by attractive items and potential purchases in the stores.
  • Stick to the list. It's easy to go overboard and purchase colourful markers, expensive gel pens and a 132-pack of crayons. Making a list keeps you and your child focused on the necessary items. It's a proven way to help you keep to the budget.

Shopping for back-to-school items can be an expensive, time-consuming and downright stressful time for many parents. But with a sensible approach and some forward planning, you can get your youngster ready for the new school year without breaking the bank.


Back to School Shopping:


Super cool back to school essentials

Sachi Insulated Lunch Bag Youth Culture
Sachi Insulated Lunch Bag Youth Culture

Lime Tree Kids

Kids Chuck Taylor All Star Street Hiker Mid Shoe
Kids Chuck Taylor All Star Street Hiker Mid Shoe

SurfStitch

Foogo Thermos Stainless Steel 290ml Bottle With Straw Phase3
Foogo Thermos Stainless Steel 290ml Bottle With Straw Phase3

Lime Tree Kids

Back to school bargains and shopping deals

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Popular Back to School coupon codes

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$20 off orders over $60 for all customers

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$20 off when you sign up to newsletter

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FREE gift when you spend over $160 on full priced products

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FREE express shipping within Australia

Simply use this code to enjoy FREE express shipping within Australia when you spend over $125 at ASOS. T&Cs apply.

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15% off for students

Students can save 15% on over 600 of the leading surf and fashion brands. Register or login with UNiDAYS to receive a code. T&Cs apply.

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FREE returns for all orders within Australia

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FREE shipping gifts

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Free shipping

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Popular Back to school - stationery coupon codes

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Jeremy Cabral

Jeremy is a publisher for finder.com.au, he is also a personal finance all-rounder specialising in: Credit Cards, Savings Accounts, Personal Loans, Home Loans & Online Shopping.

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