Prepping for Prep – Making the first year of school easy for you and your child

Prepping for Prep - making the first year fun for everyone

Last year my eldest son started school. There were things I already knew, there were things I was grateful to be told and there were things that I wish I had of known.  

These are my tips for making the first year of school easy for you and your little one. 

  1. I was in fits of excitement about labelling pencils and contacting scrap-books. Only to find that in the first year of school, they share all stationery items. Check this out first. (Note: after having to label all my sons things for Grade One, I am no longer in fits of excitement about it – why do they need 30 lead pencils?)
  2. At daycare and kindy, I would have a natter to the teachers at pick-up. They would be happy to chat about my child’s day and how he was going. This level of communication does not happen in primary school. All the kids are being picked up at the same time and teachers generally have commitments straight after class. At first, it was a bit hard to be in the dark about my child’s day, but I quickly learned that if there was a problem, I’d learn about it.
  3. We had class co-ordinator parents and it made everyones life so much easier. They arranged social events for the parents to meet each other, ensured we were aware of important things like class assemblies and book week, gave us the low down on tuck-shop and organised gifts for the teachers when needed. It really helps if the co-ordinators are existing school parents, but any keen type A personalities will do a great job. It’s also nice to make sure those parents are given a small thank-you at the end of the year.
  4. Make sure that your child can be independent. If they cannot tie laces, don’t send them to school with tie-up shoes, go for velcro. Make sure that your kid can open their lunchbox and the food stored within. Trial this a couple of times before school starts.
  5. Our teachers get presents on Teacher’s Day (October), at Christmas and on birthdays. I had no idea when any of my teachers’ birthdays were but times have changed. I also think teachers must baulk at yet another box of chocolates on any of those given days. Our class pooled resources and gave a more substantial class gift on each of those occasions. It’s a good idea to ask everyone to contribute to a pool at the beginning of the year to cover those presents.
  6. Know when your child eats and how much time they are allotted. Most kids are going to choose play over eating every time, so if they only have 5 minutes to eat before play is allowed, make sure it’s quick to eat. For example, an apple is easier to wolf down than carrot or celery sticks.
  7. At our school, everyone uses the same standard issue uniform school bag. So it was important to make sure there were a few things on the bag that identified it as being my son’s. It probably wasn’t so important to have the entire cast of key-ring Star Wars dangling off the zipper causing distraction every morning as the battle of Yavin was recreated.

    Prepping for Prep - Bag Toys

    Potentially more things on the bag than strictly necessary

  8. My son was always a fairly self-sufficient little kid, capable of entertaining himself. After being solidly entertained and challenged for six hours a day at school, he found holidays difficult. Expect your first rounds of “I’m bored” some time in the June/July break.
  9. Find out the time-table so that you can ask “what did you do in music today?”  which may illicit a more verbose response than the standard “what did you do today?” with the obligatory shrug and  reply “nothing.”
  10. Which leads me to – don’t pressure your child into telling you everything about their day. Give them some space after pick up.
  11. Have a checklist. Ours looked something like: Hat, Sunscreen, Reader, Water bottle, Paperwork (excursion slips and the like), Library Bag on Mondays.
  12.  If you drive to school, set up an emergency stash in the car. Keep a spare water bottle, some coins, a few envelopes, notepad and pen and plastic zip lock bags.  There will be plenty of occasions when you forget the $1 donation or miss the memo that on excursions munch and crunch should go in a labelled zip lock bag.
  13. We attended a whole bunch of birthday parties where the whole class was invited. When you pair that number with siblings, that’s a LOT of kids and a LOT of party bags. Make sure you do RSVP to the host, and if you are bringing a younger sibling along, make sure that you pack a little party bag for them so that you can avoid tantrums on exit.
  14. If you can, buy second hand uniforms. By the end of the first semester – the stuff that was bought new looks exactly the same as the stuff that was handed down.
  15. Your kid will eventually get exhausted. And cranky. And over it. Just expect it. Let them have a day at home if they need it.


But mostly, just enjoy the first year: The first day when their uniforms hang to near their ankles, their shoes are bright, their eyes are brighter and their bags are bigger than they are. The first time they speak or sing at assembly. The first time they ask to have their school friend over or announce that they have found the girl that they will marry. The first time they tell you something they learned – and you weren’t the teacher. The first time they tell you something you didn’t know. It will all go so fast.

What are your tips for surviving and thriving through Prep? And if you have any Grade One tips, I will be eternally grateful!

12 thoughts on “Prepping for Prep – Making the first year of school easy for you and your child

  1. Hayley Chetwynd @ House of many Minions says:

    Great tips 🙂
    We’re sending our fourth child off to school this year & it’s not less daunting than the first, second or third time. I’m a big advocate for ensuring they are wearing shoes that are appropriate for them – no laces if they are yet to manage the tricky task of tying their own laces up.
    We also learned the hard way when we sent our eldest off to school for the first time to make sure their lunchbox is easy for little fingers to open up. Ben telling me he didn’t eat his lunch because he couldn’t open his lunchbox left me feeling horrible. Of course! I should have checked he could open it himself! The next day I went out & bought three lunchboxes & one insulated lunch bag, covering all bases. Looking back now it was clearly compensation for having failed the first time round in the lunch box category.

    • Robyna says:

      So many things to think of! I had a few friends with the lunch box problem (even those that HAD tested it all out first) – first day nerves and not quite sure of what to do. Good luck for your fourth little one off into the world of school – I am getting a bit teary just thinking of it.

  2. Lisa says:

    I agree with all of it especially no 12. Our school doesn’t have class co-ordinator parents and it can be a little Type A it does get everyone together. Happy Australia Day x

    • Robyna says:

      It’s so lovely to socialise outside of school with other parents and find new friends -really grateful that our school is very encouraging of it. Hope you had a splendid Australia day! (Your lovely IG photos indicate you most certainly did!)

  3. Lauren says:

    Fantastic tips! I’m a prep teacher (we call it Reception in SA) and you are spot on. What a great post to share with other parents of little ones about to start big school!

  4. Christine says:

    Fantastic tips! Miss 3 is starting preschool next week. I need to find out how long her food break is and pack food she can eat fast! I’d never have thought of that, or food she can open herself – I was going to send yoghurt pouches and the like! I’m excited and sad at the same time.

    • Robyna says:

      I got caught out by the yoghurt pouches! But I think they cut them a bit more slack at pre-school. It is so exciting to see them grow up, but it breaks your heart a little bit too.

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