Hands up who has a little one starting school this year? I'm kind of in denial, but in one month, I will have both of my girls at school. My youngest is pretty ready as she has been shadowing her big sister for the last two years, but there are still some rites of passage that I'm using to prepare her (and me!) for the big step to big school. I've collaborated with Officeworks to put together a mini get-ready-for-school guide!
Mental preparation for growing minds
The first step in our mental preparation for school has been to sit down together with a piece of paper and make a shopping list of all the things we will need - uniform, school shoes, school bag, stationery supplies, art smock, lunch and morning tea box, drink bottle, desk, and chair. This list is on our fridge and my little one is ticking off each item as we get it. Your school may have given you a list of supplies to purchase, but if not, here are some fun products from OfficeWorks that might give you ideas to get you started:
Inabox Happy Task MB Chair Blue 2. Owl Scrapbook Book Cover 3. Junior Owl Backpack Green 4. DYMO Letratag 100H Handheld Labeller Pink 5. Studymate MegaMonster Premium Scrapbook 64 Page 6. Staedtler Twist Crayons Pk/12 7. Micador Art Smock
2. Go shopping for key items together
Next step was to buy the shiny black school shoes. Oh the excitement. With many stores offering discounted prices, now is a great time to get measured up and ready. We made a big deal out of the trip to the store for the fitting; taking photos and sending to family - an important rite of passage.
School List Service in-store backed by their Parents' Price Promise to beat by 20% any other in-stock identical product on a quoted school list. Drop off your school supplies list and Officeworks team members will select and pack the items or you. Come back and pick up the products when you're ready (you can even be alerted by phone or SMS).
3. Name everything!
Many little ones can write or at least recognise their own name; and seeing their name printed on all their supplies and uniform makes the getting-ready process even more exciting. This is a big step for parents too. It's feeling pretty real now. I love the DYMO Letratag handheld labeller (in pink, blue or black) to make great, minimalist stick-on name tags using the plastic tape (so many colour options), paper tape, and iron-on tape. (Don't pop tagged lunch boxes in the dishwasher though). Even better, get your kids to do all the labelling themselves!
4. Introduce Big School concepts
We have started peppering our conversation with things to expect at big school. It really helps that Big Sister is keen to show off her knowledge! Preparation is usually more effective if it's a gradual process. We've been using reminders of "don't forget to flush, you'll need to remember that at big school" and "snatching is definitely not allowed at school - the teachers want to see how well you can share".
5. Have fun with learning games
If your kids enjoy a little down time on the small screen, steer them towards the new fun, cognitive learning games in the Growing Minds app by Officeworks, developed for children entering prep/kindy through to year 12. Available for iPhone and Android phones.
6. Photos to mark the big day
Starting school really is a milestone for most families. Taking a family photo with your big kid in their school uniform is an Aussie tradition that can make your child feel super-special, and give an extra level of importance to the first day of their formal education. And that's worth celebrating, I think!
The Smith Family’s Back to School Appeal from January 1 to February 15 2015. All donations in-store or online will go towards The Smith Family’s 94 Learning for Life communities to provide disadvantaged young people with school supplies and support to help them participate fully at school.
Images: Steph Bond-Hutkin | Bondville