Back To School Guide: A Prep Parent’s Edition
Every year in January, amidst summer holidays and family trips to the beach, a group of parents are stressing about their children who are going to primary school for the first time. Parenting groups online are rife with parents asking questions ranging from school uniforms to lunch boxes, from lunchbox ideas to water bottle recommendations. And then there are the questions about anxiety, settling into a new environment, making friends, fear of bullying, etc.
All these questions are perfectly valid and making the right choices and getting recommendations from other parents who have been there and done that can save you a lot of time and heartache when school actually starts!
Here are our answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Where to buy school uniforms?
First of all, get a copy of your school’s uniform policy. Uniform items can be expensive so it pays to get it right! Aside from private schools who have strict uniform policies, most schools would tend to have specific shirts, t-shirts, dresses or pinafores with their school logo emblazoned on. And for those items, including school bags, library bags, jackets, etc, you would have to purchase them from the designated uniform shop such as PSW. That’s where the bulk of your uniform cost will go!
However, most schools will allow socks, shorts, pants, track/fleece pants, skirts, and leggings to be generic, as long as they meet colour and other specifications such as ‘no cargo pockets’ or ‘no denim’. You can buy these items at a far lower price at big box stores such as Best & Less, Target or Kmart, but be warned – popular colours like navy blue sell like hotcakes and faster than the stores can restock them before the school term starts, so keep an eye out and don’t wait till it’s too late!
Your school’s uniform policy should also indicate if accessories such as winter beanies, gloves, and girls’ hair bands and hair ties have to match the school uniform colours. For hair accessories, you can usually find up to 4 basic colours at most shops – red, black, blue, white. If you’re after something different, it can be tricky to find! But at School Pride, we have it covered! We make our hair accessories with the widest variety of school uniform fabric and colours available, including orange, purple, maroon, forest green, etc.
How to choose the right water bottle?
By the end of our child’s first year of school, many parents would likely have bought more than a few different bottles for one reason or another. Here are the most important things to factor in:
- How heavy is the bottle when empty? When full? When in a school bag that is already laden with lunch boxes and books and hats and more? Stainless steel is awesome, but many little ones find it way too heavy when it’s full! And smaller bottles, although lighter, may not hold enough water for a full day at school.
- How easily can your child open the bottle independently? Remember that they are not in kindy anymore and teachers may not be able to help each child open their drink bottles. They should open easily but more importantly, your child should be able to close their bottles securely after drinking. Avoid bottles that require one trick or another to seal securely because chances are, your child will be too eager to run off to play and not have the patience to close their bottle carefully. Just ask any prep teacher about leaking water bottles in class and lockers and you’ll see what I mean!
- Can it handle being dropped 10,362 times over the course of the year?
- Your child will probably lose their bottle at least once so probably avoid anything too expensive!
- Is there a spot for a secure name label on the bottle? Tip: Include your child’s home group or class on the label to ensure they get returned when misplaced!
- Bonus tip: in the heat of summer, some plastic bottles can cause the water in it to smell and taste funny, which in turn discourages your child from staying hydrated at school, so keep this in mind when choosing a bottle! On the other hand, double-walled stainless steel bottles can keep the water nice and cool (or warm for winter) all day long!
How to choose the right lunch box?
The short answer is that there is no single lunch box that is right for everyone. But I know that’s not helpful so here’s a guide to choosing the right one FOR YOU.
- Does your school have a rubbish-free lunch policy? Some schools also call it ‘nude’ or ‘zero hero’ or ‘plastic-free’ lunch boxes. If yes, you’ll want to look for a bento lunch box with leak-proof compartments that can hold things like yoghurt, hummus, dips, and other sauces. Popular ones include Yumbox, Munchbox, Go Green, etc. If your child prefers hot lunches, you can buy an insulated food jar like the ones from Thermos, and there are even bento lunch boxes that incorporate an insulated food jar into its design.
- Insulated lunch bags are important to keep cold food cold (lunch meats, yoghurts, some fruits, etc) to ensure food safety. Think about whether the lunchbox you have chosen will fit into insulated lunch bags you can find or are within your budget. Some boxes are oddly-sized and make buying a lunch bag difficult. Some lunch bags cost more than the actual lunch box and that might be a turn-off for you.
- Think about the washing up after school – if you prefer using a dishwasher, ensure that the lunch box you choose is dishwasher-safe. If you choose a system where lunch (and recess and snack) are packed into smaller separate containers, remember that you’ll have more to wash too!
- Name labels – definitely stick a waterproof and heatproof name label on the lunch box and lunch bag because many kids carry the exact same ones now and it can be really disconcerting to open up your child’s lunch box at the end of the day to find the contents to be different from what you had packed in the morning!
P.S. Here’s a handy post I shared last year about packing school lunches! https://schoolprideaccessories.com.au/2017/02/10/survive-school-lunch-box
How to choose the right school shoes?
Last year, I shared this interview with a professional podiatrist about how to choose school shoes for our little ones. So hop on over to check it out! https://schoolprideaccessories.com.au/2017/01/08/choose-school-shoes-dont-hurt-feet
One more point I would add to the point about school shoes is this – AVOID SHOELACES. This comes directly from prep teachers everywhere – unless your child is completely capable of tying their laces independently, go with velcro. Teachers everywhere will thank you for it. They are also less likely to trip over loose shoelaces in the schoolyard (or have a friend step on them and cause accidents)! Laces are great for older kids but our little ones have enough to deal with when they are just starting school!
Did you know?
School Pride creates handcrafted hair accessories that are made with your school uniform fabric. Choose from the widest variety of school colours available – where most stores have 4 colours, we have 14 and are always adding more! We also only use brand new rolls of school uniform fabric that we order from our own suppliers so all you’ll need to do is tell us your school name!
To help your little ones go back to school in style, here’s an exclusive offer just for you!
- With $30 minimum spend, enter the code ‘freebie’ to get a free gift from us
- With $60 minimum spend, enter the code ‘backtoschool’ to get free shipping as well
P.S. Most preps get an extra set of school photos in Term 1 so be prepared with gorgeous matching hair accessories for your child!