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Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a list maker. A writer who loves to put pen to clean paper in order to create something to aspire to. Something to achieve.
I have so many – lists for work, lists for play and lists for running the household. A list of lists! Starting this week I have a very special, once in a lifetime list.
I am following the list of what my Littlest needs for his first day at school.
Big school. My special littlest guy.
No more babies, no more kinder kids, no more buddy around for adventures during the day while his brothers are off growing up and learning at school. It’s my very last ‘first year at school checklist’.
Nine years of having at least one child at home all the time, and I’m about to start a new phase of parenting. It seems like just yesterday I was making a list for the delivery room as I awaited my first child, and here I am with a list for my youngest’s leap to school. Time truly does fly when you’re having fun.
The common reaction to the youngest leaving for school that I’ve come across is Gulp! Someone hold me. Pass the tissues, please. Not me though. I’m filled with excitement for what lies ahead because I know he is really ready to learn.
There also a relaxing calm in the lead up that comes from knowing that I’m prepared, thanks to my beloved lists made through four years experience of back-to-school. All those tasks to be crossed out and items to be organised are comforting, because I know my big kids won’t turn up at school without all the things they need.
Here’s a peek at my to-do list for the next fortnight with six simple steps to ensure this last part of the holidays is a breeze rather than a stressful run-around…
Three of our must-haves for back to school: MegaMonster Premium Scrapbook (RRP $0.88); Faber-Castell Single Hole Pencil Sharpener (RRP $0.99); Staedtler Noris Club Coloured Pencils (RRP $2.47)
Back to School Checklist
Task One – Fill the bag
This week will see the organising of all the stationery needs for their school list. I love a school stationery list and joyfully remember going to the shops as a child, taking my time to find everything I needed and marking each item off my list.
I have enough experience shopping with three boys to know that I don’t have a lot of time for this shop in the way that I did as a child. They share my love for a blank page and drawing or writing materials, but not the patience for a long shopping expedition.
I will need to be in and out, and there is no time for shopping around stores to compare prices or to cruise the aisles. A one stop shop is necessary and I get what we need at our local stationery store – an Officeworks, where the Parents Price Promise ensures that I’ll get the best price and with the School List Service I can organise it so that I send them our stationery list and all I need to do is pick it up. This free service will see someone gather the items ready for my collection, which means I’ll be in and out in not time.
Fill the bag, check.
I bought my iPad from Officeworks and it was the BEST price around so I always check them out first for technology.
Task Two – Dress the kids
Growth spurts have hit us this summer so as the end of this week approaches, they’ll each try on their uniforms and when the uniform shop opens the day before school starts next week I’ll top up with those last minute essentials.
We’ll also do the school shoes run, and knowing how challenging that can be – the memory of last year when they tried to sneak into the shop windows to be shoe models comes to mind – I’m relieved that it’s the only in-store shopping they need to be part of.
All that’s left is to attach names to everything for the inevitable visit to the lost & found cupboard and we are ready to go.
Kids are dressed!
We use this labelmaker which you can buy fabric labels for clothing and plastic labels for lunchboxes for.
Task Three – Kickstart their minds
All summer long, Mr Tiny and Mr Little have asked to be allowed to access their school learning apps. Even though it’s the long summer holidays, their minds are still sponges looking for information and I love to encourage their learning.
To get them in school mode, we’re using the Growing Minds app from Officeworks, a free app for Android and iPhone. The initial install comes with three problem solving and memory games based on their grade (you can choose Prep to Year 12), and we can unlock the other three games when we visit our local Officeworks to pick up the back to school stationery.
Stimulate those growing minds, we’re all set!
Task Four – Practise the school run
Some parents like to practise the school bedtime routine and the walk to school to prepare for the days ahead. Over the next week, we’re doing that as well as practising independence and the school lunch schedule.
It’s important for the new Preppie that he can open his lunchbox all by himself and wait for the school breaks for snacks, so for the next week we’ll have snacks and lunch on the school timetable and he’ll practise opening his new big lunchbox and drink bottle all by himself.
Practise runs, complete.
This is our lunchbox and drink bottle of choice. The drink bottle has never leaked, the lunchbox compartments mean no wrapping and food doesn’t touch plus a whole apple will fit in, and both are easy for the kids to open and close.
Task Five – Create a study space
As little ones go up through the grades, their need for a different study space changes. I remember the first year of Mr Little in Prep and we would curl up on the couch to do his words and readers. In his third year, he took over the dining room table to complete a project covering his family history over the last 245 years.
Now is the time that I’ll look at each of their rooms and consider if anything needs to be changed over for their learning needs. These school holidays both Mr Tiny and Mr Little are having desks put in their rooms for them to have a quiet study space of their own.
Giving the kids space, check!
Mr Little loves this chair for its pop of colour and because he can spin around on it. I love that it has adjustable height and that he wants to be on it because getting him to sit down to do his homework will be that little bit easier.
Task Six – Prepare for the days ahead
Talk to parents in the first year of their little one’s school life and you’ll hear a common thread – They’re so tired!
Starting school is exhausting and little ones find not only the first term, but sometimes the first year, too much. Forget tired, they’re beyond EXHAUSTED. There’s so much learning for their growing minds to take in at all grade levels, and that’s where home becomes a quiet sanctuary when they’re not doing homework, projects or extracurricular activities.
In those moments, you need to make sure they have a chance to calmly and quietly relax. In preparation for the need for quiet moments outside school this year, our desks have been stocked with art supplies for when the need for a quiet moment strikes.
Preparations are complete, and we GO for school launch!
We have these scrapbooks, which my boys love the cover of, a packet of these colour pencils and a sharpener in their desks ready to go.
A little something on the side
As I pop in to Officeworks to pick up what my children need, I’ll also be taking the chance to help a disadvantaged child with their return to school as well. All children have growing minds and education is very important, so it saddens me to think about how many kids can’t afford what they need for the education that all children deserve. Until February 15, you can add a stationery donation card to your shopping cart and all contributions will go towards The Smith Family’s children’s charity. This will provide stationery for disadvantaged people in The Smith Family’s 94 Learning for Life communities.
Just like that, my back to school checklist is completed with ease. By breaking it down into those six smaller steps, nothing is forgotten and I can focus on enjoying these last days of the holidays instead of worrying about having everything for when school starts.
Have you completed your Back to School list for your little one? What’s your ‘must do’ in the lead up to school starting?