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Back To School Checklist and Advice

Preparing for your first child to start school can be an emotional time for any parent but especially for mum or dad if they have been the main carer for the past 4 years.  

Ann-Maree and Labels4Kids is hoping to make this easier for you.  Here's some of our advice on starting school or going back to school for another year even!

Labels4Kids has compiled a starting school check list of everything you will need to buy or prepare for starting school including advice on name labels and name tags for their belongings.

The lead up to the big first day of school

  • Read your child some books on starting school from the library. 
  • Talk about your first day at school and what you did. 
  • Talk about how you met all these great new friends. 

Buying uniform, shoes and bags

- Don't leave the uniform too late...  Fatal mistake!
- In Summer kids do grow however, just like sunflowers. Don't buy in the first couple of weeks of the holiday but by the end of July in Scotland or second week in August in England you should have everything bought and adjust them, take up hems, whatever ready for school. 
- Don't leave it to the last minute as the shops are heaving with kids and frustrated parents not able to get the sizes they need, there is much less of a range of school shoes or clothing available of popular sizes and the kids and you will get fed up with the queues.

School Bags 
If you need school bags we recommend just a reasonable sized back pack from a cheap store. You don't need to spend a fortune on the best brand but get your child involved in selecting it because if they don't like it they won't want to use it. Just make sure they can fit in their lunch, art top, gym kit and homework folder so it can't be too small. 

Bags for Nursery or Pre-schoo
Personalised gym bags are good for Nursery or Pre-prep and Prep where they don't need to carry much apart from plimsole gym shoes and the odd note or change of clothes. They are quick and simple to use and hang well on the pegs in the hall. Alternatively our PEGbag is a great for hanging on pegs in the corridor and will fit plimsole gym shoes and a water bottle and notes.

Sport Bags 
For gym kit for younger children we recommend personalised gym bags with their name and an image on that they can recognise. Also swimming kit is good in personalised gym bags but don't leave them overnight with wet clothing in them or the text may start to peel off and will then need to be repressed back on with a hot iron and thin pressing cloth. Always wash the gym bags gently by hand.

Labelling school uniform and name tags
Name tags should be bought at least 3 weeks before you are due to go back to school.
The most efficient mums have the name tags ordered at the beginning of summer within the first 3 weeks of starting their holiday. This is definitely recommended.  It is the best option as it allows for every eventuality - no chance of hold ups with the postal service if there are postal strikes, no chance of not being happy with the labels you have or of having insufficient name tags for the clothing or other belongings. 
If you are not so organised then for last minute orders we always recommend special delivery despite the additional cost.

Best name tags for starting school 
The best name tags to order for someone starting school for the first time are the selection packs or back to school pack options. We also have a Nursery labels pack.
If you have a boy then the back to school pack with 24 stick ons clothing labels is the easiest, quickest and best value way to label everything.
For a girl the care labels on the clothing are not always on the collar so we would suggest so they can see their labels easily go for the Back to school selection pack with 25 easy to use iron on name labels. 
We suggest you also get a pack of press and click fasteners or press and click name tags no matter what back to school pack you choose from as these are good for labelling socks, heavy coats or other difficult things like woollen hats, scarves and gloves.

Stock of name labels at home 
Always keep a stock of mini vinyl labels, vinyl shoe labels or small vinyl labels in the cupboard to label anything that is not clothing that may need done during the year. 
For clothing it is always advisable to keep some fast application stick ons stick on labels for clothing in the cupboard.
If you only want to spend money on one pack then the vinyl shoe labels are probably the best option of these name tags as they are able to be used on shoes but also everything else that is not clothing. 
The mini vinyls are great for small items like pencils, non-stretch hair bands, ventolin inhalers, epipens and the like.  
Remember kids grow out of shoes fast and you will speed through those vinyl shoe labels in no time. Labels4Kids vinyl shoe labels we believe are better than many others on the market and do not wrinkle under foot as they are made of vinyl, not paper.  They also have a protective clear cover to avoid the ink lifting from the perspiration in the foot and they are made in a shape to fit even the smallest shoe inside the heel. 

More than one child 
Order name labels with a neutral colour and image or no image at all and just a surname.
Alternatively you can have say Kate and Jack Smith or K & J Smith, or K Smith, J and cut them as long as you have no image if you intend to cut the name tags.

Labelling bags 
Personalised bag tags are great for this.

Labelling shoes 
Vinyl shoe labels or for younger kids right foot labels.

Labelling waterbottles and lunch boxes 
Vinyl labels are great for this but can also be used for hockey sticks, glasses, music cases, books, ventolin or epipens.

Children with allergies 
Personalised bag tags and either standard vinyl allergy labels or create your own vinyl labels with your own details as required.

The day before school starts

Discuss whether they are going for a school dinner or a packed lunch tomorrow and how they know when it is lunch time etc. Discuss how to ask the teacher for the toilets or where they are - pretty important and remember to send in spare underpants and trousers or skirt just in case mum! If you are sending in a packed lunch make sure you agree what you are putting in the box with your son or daughter. 

On the day school starts

- Take a photo of your little one in their school uniform on their first day. It is something you will treasure forever.  
- Take the camera to school and take a photo of them with their friends all starting school together.Other mums will do it. I remember the photo of our youngest on the first day sitting on the school doorstep in a   huff at having to go to school and not stay home - it's a classic!  Once his friends all arrived he was a completely different child thankfully.
- Don't be late! Plan early and be ready. It takes time to feed them and get them out the door changed, washed and ready with the kit. Allow at least an hour. 
- Pack everything a couple of days ahead apart from the lunch which you can always pack the night before and keep in the fridge. 

During School

- Don't worry about them. 
- Take advantage of the free time. 
- Get a healthy snack ready for them for after school as I often found that the kids came home tired and like they were having a sugar low (crabby and moody and tired) especially in the first year.  The extra energy from a healthy snack helps give them a pick me up for the rest of the day.

After School

Give them their healthy after school snack. Discuss the day and how they found it and work through any problems they may have had with encouragement and advice. Prepare everything for the next day.

Routine, routine!

Now do this for the next umpteen years and you will have deserved the right to be called MUM!