Back to school

Back to School image via Shutterstock

This year’s Back to School in September is a biggy for us as we’re going up. Yes, the girls will be moving on to Year 3 and junior school and although the school is only next door and has the same name we had to reapply.

It means not only a change of teacher but of school uniform, school times and much more that I am finding out as the time draws closer.

We’re going to have to teach the girls to put a tie on and tie up shoe laces. We’re going to have our larger school bags to contend with, satchel or rucksack? Pencil cases are needed with named products inside. So as you can imagine there’s quite a lot of preparation already taking place.

Back to school tips and tricks

Marks and Spencer asked me to share some of my top tips for making sure our Back to School is worry free and painless.

Uniform

Think ahead – I have already been to the local shop and bought the school cardigans with logos on, I’ve sent in money for the school ties and the compulsory PE bag too as last year some students had to go without at the beginning of term. Also by thinking ahead you can take advantage of the sales and pick up quality uniform at a fraction of the initial price.

Getting dressed – It’s important to get the girls into a habit of dressing themselves and I find if I have laid out the uniform with them the night before so they have to think of what they need for the following day it makes them more responsible (she says with fingers crossed)

Lunch

School dinners or packed lunch? I must admit after a whole year of not having to worry about making a packed lunch every day I’m tempted to pay for them to continue with school dinners. If we do find ourselves reverting to packed lunches then they will be prepared the night before and once again I shall rope the twins in to sorting out their lunch boxes with me

Pencil case

I shall be taking them shopping over the school holidays and choosing a school bag and a new pencil case. I have invested in a Stamptastic stamp which allows me to stamp EVERYTHING they own.

Keeping the knowledge

It’s important to keep their knowledge ticking over on the summer break and by that I don’t mean over doing it with homework but little games for the times tables, at least the 2s 5s and 10s plus lots of reading good books. Visit the local library or start a book swap with other school mums.

School bags

Always get prepared the night before. Only last minute addition could be a lunch box out of the fridge.

Walk to school

We are just down the road from our school so we walk every day unless it’s tipping it down in which case we jump in the car. We have a checklist we all say before we leave the house so we all remember what to take: – Book bags, water bottles, keys and so on. We’ll often talk about things we see on our walk to school or use the time for conversation.

First day back

An exciting day and a worrying one too for some? On our first day back parents will accompany the children to the junior school hall form that day onwards the children will have to enter via the school gate on their own and in past years I have noticed this can be quite daunting for some children. We shall be organising with the other school mums to meet at the gate from the second day onwards so the children can go in together.

Reaching half term

I always think the first term back is the hardest especially when it’s a new school, new teacher and lots of new information to take on board. I like to get homework done over the weekend in the morning so the day is clear and we haven’t to worry about it anymore. I think weekends should have something to look forward to, this can be playing in a local park or baking some brownies, anything that for the children is a fun task.

Marks and Spencer got in touch and asked me to share some of my top tips with them, have you got any to add? How do you make your Back to School smoother?

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Marks and Spencer they have a 20% off promo that runs until the 14th of July

Room Copenhagen lunch boxesWhen Room copenhagen got in touch to ask me if I’d like to review their kids lunch boxes I knew it was going to be a yes.

The lunchbox is one of the child’s most important pieces of equipment and chosen properly will last all year long, therefore it has to be visually pleasing to the child in question. On this note Room Copenhagen have come up trumps with lots of really funky cool designs to choose from.

We went for the LEGO boxes and they were an immediate hit, there are different sized boxes allowing you to pack fruit separately or snacks away from the main meal in the large box.

At first the girls struggled to open their boxes as they were used to a different click, clack button style but once they realised the top slips off the bottom they were away.

The drink bottle has a screw head to drink from, my only concern is the head is not then attached to the bottle and therefore in a busy lunch room could get lost. Also the bottle has an un-screwable bottom allowing a quick empty over a sink and refill which is great for quick cleaning but we spotted this when Alice twisted it by mistake and got herself wet! Luckily for us we only had water in it which soon dried but worth taking note of for smaller children. A good squeeze tight should avoid other accidents.

room copenhagen lunch boxes

Without a doubt the LEGO boxes are a huge hit with the kids and they are bound to create conversation, in case you’re wondering sadly they do not stack on top of each other like LEGO but they do all fit comfortably together in the girls’ lunch bags.

I’ll have to wait until they are back to school in September to see if all the various boxes return home each day, being used to one box that holds everything this will present a new challenge but I’m sure the style of these boxes wins over last year’s ‘boring ones’. I’ll also have to name tops and bottoms  with name stickers to make sure all can return home.

room copenhagen lunch boxes

Click here for more information on Room Copenhagen’s fabulous products

school uniform5th September

My Timeline on Facebook this morning (and yesterday) was full of the sweetest children all dressed in the cutest school uniforms of all colours, red, green, blue and yellow too and where’s our uniform? Still in the wardrobe upstairs, freshly pressed, labelled and just itching to be worn.

I am very pleased with our choice of school it’s voted Outstanding by Ofsted, we’ve had a couple of visits in July where the children were invited along to ‘class’ with their teacher. I met the headmistress briefly who even gave me a guest post on How to prepare Little Ones for Big School but here we are still waiting to start, drumming our fingers and wishing time away.

I think back to when I went to school and the first day was The First Day and from that day on you simply went to school. I think back to my older kids who went to school in Italy, different country but they went to school on their first day and simply carried on going to school from then on. Even their nursery school (scuola materna) was start by jumping straight in and getting used to the idea. After all the teachers are trained to help settle children in their new environment.

Not at our school, we are being subjected to a namby-pamby induction process ‘to help the little ones settle in’ How does that translate?

School Induction Programme

Week one (w/c 3rd Sept) the entire infant school start but we are invited in for one morning only from 9.15 to 11.30. Also the class has been split over two days so in effect half the class will be missing. Total school for this week 2 and 1/2 hours

Week two (w/c 10th Sept) We sit at home all week and wait for a home visit which, for us, will take place on Wednesday. 20 minutes per child with lots of paperwork to fill in! (sounds like a Labour idea to me – they loved paperwork didn’t they?) I find this a total waste of time and very frustrating. If I lived in the Bronx or a ghetto somewhere I could maybe understand. If I lived in a community of alcoholics, drug addicts, thieves, murderers and other society misfits I could maybe understand the need but I live on a lovely estate with good people, we may have the odd idiot in our midst (hasn’t every community?) but just a quick visit to our school fetes, or the local shops will prove it to be the decent area I’m telling you it is. As much as I will enjoy Mrs T’s (name changed) company on Wednesday I’d much prefer my twins were getting used to proper school. Total school for this week 20 mins

school uniform

Week three (w/c 17th Sept) Oh no, our induction isn’t over yet, it’s merely beginning! Children attend school mornings only and to be collected at 12. So childcare needs arranging for working parents every afternoon. Total school for this week 15 hours and 3/4

Week four (w/c 24th Sept) yep we’re still being induced. Children can stay for lunch and therefore need collecting at 1.25pm. More childcare needs arranging for working parents. Total school 23 hours and 3/4

book bag and school hat

Week five (w/c 1st Oct) we finally start school

Now I realise by speaking out I may upset the headmistress or the teachers or the governors and really start the year off on a bad footing but the old fashioned First Day of School worked for years (I’m talking decades) so why change it? I have seen tearful mums shed tears as their little ones start the journey of growing up, I’ve seen over-protective mums anxious to keep control of their offspring, was it their moaning and complaints that got us in this position? If so as a normal mum who accepts time moves on and kids grow up do I get a voice in this or should I just stand back and keep quiet?

Will my outspoken moaning now cause grief for my girls at school? I sincerely hope not. I would hope that the points I make will be taken into consideration for future years, I hope people will read it as the person who stands up at the village hall and dares to speak against decisions made before them.

Let’s bring back First Day of School as it always was and how it should be

P.S Weds 12th Sept – We’ve just had our home visit, post to follow, and it was very enjoyable. Mrs T arrived with Miss A (name changed) the teaching assistant. We went through a lot of paperwork and there was an opportunity to ask questions which I did and I challenged Mrs T as to why this drawn out process mentioning the fact that after an initial visit they then had to wait 10 days to go back. Well, from the teacher’s point of view it it is actually a very helpful process and makes first days less traumatic for the children. So I eat a bit of humble pie and wait for Monday our 1st day

my nametags school uniform labels

Competition closed the winner is Caroline Wight

Are you ready?

Bought the uniform? Bought the new shoes? Got the sandwich boxes sorted? Thought about PE kit? Book bags? Coats? Got the cardigan with the school logo? Hats?

And now the whole lot needs labelling as children manage to throw their belongings all over the place and lose important articles and if you remember in a couple of months or so when that does happen none of the shops will be carrying school uniform as the floor space will be dedicated to you-know-what merchandise.

If you are running late on the name labels fear not! My Nametags got in touch a couple of weeks ago and asked me to review their service and more specifically their name tags and they very kindly offered up a prize of one set of My Nametags iron-ons & stickers to WIN.

My Nametags

I was invited to view their website and choose my school uniform labels and if you have a look it’s really simply set out taking about 2 minutes to design your name tags from a range of colours and symbols to personalise them to each child’s tastes.

Having twin girls I went with pink writing on lilac and purple writing on pink but there are lots of colours to choose from. We chose butterflies for Alice and Roses for Bessie as, if in a hurry, the symbol may be a quicker route to recognising their belongings (I hope)

my nametags iron on

The iron-on name tags are perfect for ironing onto clothes and school uniforms. The iron-on labels can be used in washing machines and dryers and the stickers can be used in shoes, on lunch boxes, PE bags, CDs and thousands of other places! They can be used in dishwashers, sterilisers and microwaves.

Once your order is placed they will be with you in 48 hours and they are very simple to apply. The stickers speak for themselves and the iron-on tags are placed into position covered by a piece of wax paper included with your order and run the iron over, in seconds the job is done.

The tags are guaranteed to stay on and what’s more My Nametags have a 99% good or excellent feedback from their customers. I am very impressed and can thoroughly recommend the product, the speedy service and the ease of application. As for the test of time, come back this time next year when I’m choosing again and I’ll let you know. For now we’ll go with the 99% of customers who gave good or excellent feedback.

my nametags stickers

Win your set of Nametags

  1. Leave a comment below telling me the article you’re most concerned of getting lost
  2. Like the My Nametag Facebook page
  3. Follow My Nametag on Twitter 

Terms and condition

  • The prize is one set of My Nametags labels including iron on and stickers.
  • The competition closes on 12th September at 12 midnight.
  • The winner will be drawn at random from all valid entries.
  • The winner will be contacted via email or twitter on 13th September.
  • There is no cash alternative.


 

 

Lilliputiens bagI know August is going to pass by in a whizz and so I’m doing my very best to get super organised for the twins starting reception in September. I have the majority of their uniform but am waiting till the end of the month before I buy new shoes Just In Case.

I have summer dresses as I’m hoping for a warm September.

I have pinafores and white t shirts to go underneath.

I have green cardigans

I now need to practise dressing and undressing with the girls!

I have book bags and school hats.

I still need to get PE kits, plimsoles and labels – lots and lots of labels.

school uniform

 

book bag and school hat

I have the Sistema lunch boxes (found them in Asda) which was a tip my sister in law gave me and I’m thrilled with them as they have compartments to keep all the food separate, looking good and not squashed or mixed up.

Liz School Bags

I also have the most beautiful Lilliputiens bags for school lunch boxes thanks to John Crane. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Lilliputiens bags

I’m sure you’ll agree that these back packs are absolutely perfect for the job and they look fabulous too – there are plenty of boy versions too but regular readers know it’s all girls in this house and PINK ones at that!

lilliputiens bag

The closure of the top flap is by magnet – very clever thinking Lilliputiens ;) The main part of the bag which is closed by a zip is perfect for lunch boxes and the pocket on the front will amply carry a pack of tissues and a handy small pack of wet wipes in case of need.

Sistema lunch box

The quality is superb and extra attention has been made to detail as shown below, they retail at around £30. To find your closest retailer visit the John Crane website and enter your postcode on the Liz School Bags page, a list will appear for you to choose from.

Lilliputiens bags detail

I can’t believe how time has flown and we’re here talking about school starting in one month’s time, how are your preparations coming along? Does anyone have a great place to go to for labels which is next on my task list?