Talia always buys uniforms and shoes for her daughters Madison (eight) and Mila (five) at the start of the school holidays so theyâve had a chance to get to know their new gear. Itâs especially important for first-timers to become familiar with a uniform, she says. âWhen Mila started kindie last year, sheâd already popped on her uniform a few times for a play around, and it made getting dressed on day one less daunting.â
Tame the tools
New lunchboxes and water bottles can present challenges â especially for the littlest schoolkids. âMake sure they can open and close boxes and lids by themselves,â says Talia. âWe had two mishaps early on, and now I always check.â She also recommends breaking the seal on pre-packaged food. âThose squeezy yoghurts can be impossible,â she says. âLet your kids know youâve opened it already and re-closed it.â
When a schoolâs new to your kids, ease their first-day nerves ahead of time by practicing the journey there, and â where possible – spending time at the school. If youâre allowed, pop into the playground during the holidays.
Practice new habits
For first-timers, school calls for some grown-up skills and extra independence. Kindie kids, for example, are often stepping up from communal bathrooms to ârealâ toilets. Says Talia: âDuring the holidays, if we were in a public toilet Iâd ask them to use their own cubicle and lock the door while I waited outside it.â She adds: âYou an also use the long holiday to ease your little one out of any remaining daytime naps.â
Be a schedule ninja
School isnât just about the first day (although it can feel like that, in the run-up). Thereâs a whole busy academic year ahead, filled with events, calendar days, MUFTI days and each childâs individual extra-curricular activities. Long-term planning helps hugely, says Talia. âOur school uses the Skoolbag app, which has a live calendar. Every start of the year, the school updates it with everything: the coming yearâs concerts, fundraisers, running carnivals, term dates. We can see the year at a glance, and in January weâre already using it to plan our holidays next year.â
Lists are your friend
âHave as many lists as possible,â says Talia. âOn that first day, there are often so many different items you need â we needed to pack tissues, wipes, parking stickers to get into the school, an A4 collage of our familyâ¦ I had a list running on the screen of our Family Hub smart fridge and ticked it off as I prepared and packed the kidsâ bags.â
Master your menus
Talia recommends involving your kids in school lunch preparation.
âIf they can buy into the process and choose whatâs in their lunchbox, youâve got more chance of them actually eating it,â she says. Her daughters enjoy adding their choices to the familyâs digital shopping list on their Family Hub fridge, and Talia can order the items direct from the Woolworths app.[i] â I can make sure all the snack items for lunches and breaks are covered,â she says.
Many schools use the FlexiSchool cashless ordering system for their canteens, and Talia loves the convenience of doing this straight from her screen in the kitchen, via the Skoolbag app on her Family Hub.[i] âIt takes me two minutes to get everyone organised, and lunch is sorted in a few seconds.â
She also eases her girls into the schoolâs mealtime routine. âWe sit down and have lunch in the last few days around the time the school will do it,â she says.
Boss those books
Most schools send out their books and stationery list at the end of Term Four â another easy job to tick off before you head off on holidays. âWe have our list on the Skoolbag app and we just click a link to order all the books for next year before even the end of the last term,â says Talia.
Every start of a school year is a milestone, whatever your childrenâs age, and itâs well worth celebrating. Be sure to capture plenty of happy snaps and display them proudly them alongside all those new holiday photos. Says Talia: âWe upload ours direct from our smartphone[ii] so theyâre already on the Family Hub screen when the girls come home on the first day!â
[i] Requires internet connection. Apps and services subject to change without notice. Data usage fees may apply.
[ii] Requires compatible phone with Android 4.0+ or iOS 7.0+, internet connection and Smart Home app. Data usage fees may apply.