Teacher shares her top tricks to getting back-to-school ready

According to teacher Rebecca Towner-Yates, there are many ways to prepare your children for going back to school without them even knowing it.

As mum to Matilda, seven, and Ted, three, she says: ‘I’m fairly new to parenting school-aged children but when I think about the kids that start the year successfully, there are a few ways in which I know I can help prepare Matilda and Ted.

‘Each child has their own journey through their summer holiday, whether they’re at home or in a childcare provision and because of this, greeting that new class in September is never going to be plain sailing.’

Rebecca, who lives in in High Peak, Derbyshire, with her partner Ruth, likens navigating the school holidaysto island-hopping in a canoe: ‘it looks much better in the brochures than in real life. The weather is changeable, and sure, there are some great moments and photo opportunities along the way but sometimes you’re paddling against the current and you haven’t packed enough snacks.’

And while her family have not been on a big holiday this summer, she and Ruth have spent the time getting the kids new term-ready.

‘We’ve done plenty of day trips, and to help them take responsibility for their own belongings, they’ve each had a bag with a jumper, sun hat and a snack (which is always too heavy when they lift the bag and too small when they come to eat it),’ Ruth explains. ‘Little things, even mislaying a pencil or book, can worry some children in September.’

Meanwhile, she adds, it’s worth parents bearing in mind that school routines won’t be as well established as they were in July. ‘They may have a new teacher or classroom where replacement items are in a different place,’ says Rebecca. ‘And unless you are particularly adept at keeping an eye on them, reading books have a mysterious way of vanishing on their way into a school bag. ‘

Playing games is another great way to get ready for September.

‘For Ted, we’ve been learning how to take turns, and for Matilda, learning what it looks like to be a good loser (and a good winner),’ explains Rebecca. ‘It’s much easier to win against two other people than 29 and I’ve seen many children stumble while they are getting used to the changing odds.’

The family have also been chatting about what they can expect when the children return to the school gates next week – from looking at school uniform to walking the route to school and imagining what the classroom will be like.

‘We’ve talked about new adults working with them and what we might expect from them and a little about how the teacher probably won’t turn into a fire-breathing dragon over needing the toilet in lesson time,’ says Rebeccca. ‘But what we’ve spent the most time on is understanding the strengths that each of them will bring to their class.

‘It doesn’t matter how small it may seem: a love of dinosaurs, a prowess at basketball, an interest in space, or simply being a really kind kid. To go into a room confident that you are not only welcome but can add something positive is the most powerful preparation for learning I know.’

Alongside Rebecca’s advice, here are three more handy tips for next term.

Back-to-school photos

Cheshire food and drink photographer and consultant Jane Burkinshaw is an expert in making brands look their best, but as a mother of two grown-up children, she’s taken plenty of back-to-school photos in her time.

‘Don’t leave it until the big day – do it as soon as you’ve got all the school uniform,’ she says. ‘You can do some reportage ones on the day, too.

‘Leave extra time and don’t forget to wipe away the tears and enjoy the moment.’

Lunch inspo

Whether they’ve already gone back or the end of the school holidays can’t come soon enough, there’s a host of ideas for cheap, healthy lunches here, created by London mum-of-three Caroline Job, AKA the Lunchbox Lady.

Perfect for taking to school or as an affordable alternative to eating out on day trips, it has videos, downloadable PDFs, recipes and advice on everything from what kit to buy, to creative ideas breaking free of the tired old sandwich/crisps/apple combination.

Time for the little ones

September is an ideal holiday time for babies and toddlers – it’s warm, but not too hot and you can grab a bargain outside peak school holiday times.

Stretch your budget further by renting items for travel, rather than buying new. London-based Tiny Explorers has parent favourites such as the teeny-tiny foldaway pram the Babyzen Yoyo, small enough to fit in the overhead locker of the aeroplane cabin, from £40 a week, with UK next-day delivery available.

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