Friday, 25 July 2014

Starting School Essentials

Got a wee one about to start school?  Here's a heads up on what you are going to need...

1. The Pencil Case

This is actually my own pencil case.  Too cool for school!

The pencil case is kind of a big deal.  In the sea of uniforms and matching gym bags, the pencil case is the one piece of kit which, placed on your desk, is the symbol of you.  When I was wee, a lot of though went into the pencil case and what to put in it.  In the first year however, it's not so much about personality and being equipped as a kind of right of passage into school-child times.

What I discovered was, that Tom rarely needed his pencil case in Primary 1.  School provided a pot of pencils for him, as well as rubbers, coloured pencils and sharpeners.  So it wouldn't have been a big deal if he hadn't had one - he didn't get homework until just before the Christmas holidays!

What he really appreciated was the special trip he and Granny took to get his special pencil case for his special first day at school.

It's all about preparation.  And the pencil case is a huge part of that.  The pencil case is one of the symbols of growing up, in this respect.

2. The Lunch Box

My own lunch box at school was very 80's - pink and covered in My Little Pony, and impossible to get open.  It was also extremely sturdy and big enough to fit everything - including a drink - in.  Which is all you are looking for in a lunch box.

If your new school is anything like our school, they will be promoting healthy eating, and are also on a course to make you very aware of what your kid does or does not eat from the various goodies you send.  A good lunch box for P1 will be:
  • Wipe clean - you have no idea how many messy crisps and juice and yoghurt can get inside a box which spends all day getting thrown around!
  • Sturdy - you need to be able to keep food intact until it gets eaten
  • Easy to open and close - it saves a lot of worry and frustration on your child's part
  • Big enough for everything to be inside - Tom couldn't always fit his drink in his and went thirsty all day once because he forgot to pick up his juice and was too shy to say to his teacher!

3. The Coat

Bear rocks the cheap version of the school coat, which is much preferable to the goddamn school coat.

We had to buy a goddamn school coat.  I hated the goddamn school coat.  Initially it looked like a good buy - waterproof, fleece lined and not too expensive.  But everyone else in P1 bought the goddamn coat too.  Which proved to be a bit of a nightmare.

The amount of times we ended up coming home with someone else's coat, or no coat at all because someone had gone home with Tom's coat was just ridiculous.  No amount of name tagging could have stopped it either - I had name tags all over that goddamn coat and the little children never really took the time to read. As you do.

Do yourselves a favour - don't buy the goddamn school coat.  Buy a school coat by all means - but make sure it is something fit for purpose (waterproof, a bit cosy, neat), but keep it cheap.  And don't let it be a coat which you will worry about getting dirty either - the amount of times it will end up in the washing machine in a week...ahrgh...don't get me started...!

4. Naming Stuff

Ah yes.  Definitely remember to stock up on lots of labels with your child's name on, or alternately, a really good labelling pen.  If you are anything like me, you will pat yourself on the back for getting a shed-ton of embroidered labels and spend a lot of time lovingly sewing them into various items of school clothing.

For about an hour.

Then you will begin to realise that name labels are actually a bit of a pain in the ass, and although they do mean that your kid can always read his or her name on their stuff very clearly, they are taking a crazy amount of time to sew on.

Invest in some iron-on labels and a Sharpie - much less time-consuming and definitely easier.  Especially when you get to the stage where you realise you missed that all-important expensive school jumper, or gym shoes.

5. Extra Gym Shoes, Needle and Thread, Hemming Tape...

Yep - who knew?  Extra gym shoes is something I would recommend.  Tom attends after school club, where he needs gym shoes to be able to attend games in the gym hall.  But he is not allowed to take the ones from his gym bag.  He has also attended various extra activities where he requires gym shoes to participate, but again, for some unknown reason, is not allowed to get the ones he already keeps at school.


Needle and thread are a must - buttons that pop off, ripped tie hems, holes in schoolbags - I would just add late-night sleep-deprived sewing to your new list of skills.

And hemming tape.  Where would I be without hemming tape?  In late-night sewing hell I tell you!  It lifts hems, it seals holes in knees, it sorts out odd flaps of fabric on the bottom of trousers.  It's actual magic on a roll!

6. The Water Bottle

OOh!  Flashy!

The kids at Tom's school are actively encouraged to take in their own water bottle.  Tom is terrible at remembering to drink throughout the day, so this is actually a pretty good thing - if his peers are doing it, he is doing it too, and that is all kinds of good.

We got Tom a bottle with his name already on it, which is a great idea.  His teacher allows them to fill it from the water fountain.  And it looks super cool too.

7. The Bag

I am Iron Man!
Ah, the school bag!  The school note delivery system from hell!  Every damn day, I open the mystical portal to yet another note from the school gods, proclaiming yet another crazy fun day or reason to hand in yet more money I don't have for things which make no sense...grumble...

The bag should be small enough for a wee person to carry without it dragging on the ground when they walk, but big enough to fit a jumper, homework folder, water bottle and pencil case in. And a post bag full of mail.

Okay, I joke about the mail.

Kind of.

Do get one big enough though, or school will do untold things with otherwise clean jumpers involving dirty lunchboxes full of rubbish, which will just make you scream at the end of yet another long day.

8. Envelopes

Maybe open a seperate bank account for mystical school stuff that appears for seemingly no discernible reason.
Nobody told me about the sheer amount of admin that comes with having a kid at school.  Seriously - I could and should, have a job in admin after the amount I get through in a week.  There is always a form to fill out, a task to complete, a gymnastics class to pay for or another round of lunch money to send in.  Envelopes are very, VERY important.

9. The Noticeboard and calendar

No, i can't explain the comedy note on my board.  It makes me laugh though!
You will not believe the amount of stuff you will have to remember - so a decent organisation system is definitely something to invest in.  We are a bit old school in this house, and really love  good old-fashioned calendar and noticeboard.  It's so easy to forget what's on, or forget to even note it on the calendar, so *whoosh*, up it goes on the noticeboard until we get a chance to work it all out.  There's always crazy stuff, like special jumper day, show and tell, inset days and parents-jumping-through-endless-hoops-for-no-apparent-reason days; but please keep a note of them.  They might seem crazy and unimportant to you, but to your child, they are super important.

10. A Sense Of Humour

School is great, it really is.  But there will be a point where the teacher demands that your child must donate something to the school beginning with the letter C (actually happened!), your son will end up in the medical room more times in a week than he does in the actual classroom (clumsy bugger that he is) and yes, the jumper will come home in a lunchbox full of mashed up crisps and yoghurt.  If it comes home at all.

You will have to sit through some pretty awful school performances (in order to see the back of your own child's head behind all of the pushy parents with the super-expensive cameras) and you will find yourself marching into the school office with the forgotten lunch box for the third time in a week.

Just make sure you're not the parent who forgets that it's non-uniform day.

(ssssshhhhhh!  That was totally not me.  Maybe.)

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