First day wows or blues?
|   Mar 16, 2011
First day wows or blues?

How to prepare for a new term at school

There’s no word that can satisfactorily explain your child’s feelings on the first day of a new term at school.  The thrill of meeting friends again, the excitement of a new classroom, the flutter in the tummy anticipating how the new teachers will be, not to mention a classroom full of new faces!!  A lot to handle for sure, but just a little bit of preparation and organisation will help your children ease into their new world comfortably. 

Let them feel good …

Your kids’ new set of books for the new class will certainly up the smile quotient as they set off for school, but perhaps one new item - a new bag, bottle, pencil box or geometry set can add the pep in their step.  Much as they deny it, something new will thrill the cool teenage gang as well! Check the next section for tips on smart back-to-school shopping.

Seeing friends your child hasn't met in a while can make the first day a good one.  And not finding a face you are desperately looking for might lead to deep disappointment. So it may be a good idea to check with your child’s closest friends a day before school reopens, to preempt any emotional surges and dips on the first day.

A special tiffin or an extra school canteen coupon on the first day of school will certainly add wattage to the smile on your child’s face.  Pack his favourite finger food, paying heed to junk food restrictions the school list imposes. 

Smart shopping

Make a list: Most schools provide parents with a complete book set, or at least a book and recommended supplies list at the end of the previous term.  Use this list as your guide, but make sure to buy your supplies early enough as stocks tend to fall short closer to school opening and last minute rushes.  Involve your child in making and checking off items from the list – a great lesson in basic organisational skills. If you don’t have a list, make one after consulting with parents with older kids in your school.

Take inventory:  You may still have unused stationery articles from the previous term, a brand new pencil box gifted to your child in the middle of the year and other such items which you can tick off your list without having to step out of the house .  

Buy in bulk: This applies mainly to stationery - buy a whole packet of card paper rather than 10 sheets at a time and store them in a place identified for school stocks.  Not only will you be able to avoid late night shopping trips to buy pencils when you run out, but you will also not run the risk of not finding the right colour, size or type when running in panic at the last minute.  But send to school only what is needed, as there’s a greater risk of things getting lost there.

Separate wants from needs:  And this is where you need to beware of the power of trends.  It may be futile getting into an argument with your child about whether a pencil box with flashing lights is essential because ‘everyone is getting one’.  Instead set a budget for school supplies and involve your child as you prioritise purchases.  That a lesson in managing money and setting priorities.  Also remember, schools don’t welcome supplies with gimmicks as they quite understandably cause distraction.

Quality does count: This is a call you’ll have to take separately for each item.  Your child may outgrow his shoes within 3-4 month and it seems futile to spend too much on a single pair.  But also consider that he has to be comfortable in what he’s wearing and the shoe has to withstand the incredible wear and tear it’ll be subjected to on the playground.  Don’t go haute couture but certainly ensure good quality. 

Another example, leaky pens will cost you more in terms of ruined clothes and messy notebooks.  So will bags that spend more time at the mochi, getting straps and zippers fixed, than at school!  Plastic waterbottles and tiffin boxes also need careful attention and must be food grade and non toxic.

On the other hand notebooks do not have to be of the highest grade executive bond paper, or school bags needn’t be the finest leather that money can buy. 

Be prepared…

Prepare the new book set as required by the school – with brown paper or cellophane covers and label them neatly. 

Uniforms will need a look see as well.  If your child needs new shoes, buy them well in advance so that she is able to break them in before school restarts.  Also check buttons, zips and hanging hemlines while you have the chance.   If your kids don’t wear uniforms to school, count and set aside 3-4 sets of clothes that adhere to the prescribed dress code regulations.

Moving to a senior class may also require carrying more stuff to school on a daily basis, which would call for a larger bag or special supplies.  Exchanging notes with parents of slightly older children will give you all the information you need in this respect.

Prepare your child’s study corner for the new term.  Remove the old books, file away loose papers and make space for the new set. 

New classroom, new teachers

And here’s the part that’s responsible for all the first day anxiety.  Just when she’s got used to her current set of teachers, the term gets over and now she has to deal with a new lot. 

If your child’s class is being shuffled after the previous term, then he’ll have more to deal with than just new teachers – a classroom full of new faces.   There’s not much we can do in this case other than provide lots of moral support and a warm, familiar atmosphere at home so that the child does not have to deal with too many new things at the same time.

Share your personal experiences with a tough teacher or new friends and assure your child that she is not alone; we all have to deal with changes.  Your enthusiasm is important and will rub off some positive vibes on your kids.

Moving from junior to middle or middle to senior school can be quite a culture shock.  Suddenly from being the senior batch they become the most junior and may take a while getting used to the change.  Continue your positive encouragement but always keep alert for any signs of bullying or intimidation.

The night before…

You know this stuff - keep the school bag packed and ready, iron and hang out the uniform and keep all other accessories like belts or ties within reach.  But what should top this list is making sure your kid gets enough sleep to be able to face the next day bright and cheerful rather than with a heavy head.

As for you - wake up with as much enthusiasm as you want your children to have, join them for a healthy breakfast and wave them off with a smile, as they cross another important milestone of their lives.

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