Back to school - are you ready?

No sooner have the summer holidays begun than it's time to prepare for the new school year. Not sure where to start? Check out the Back to School special over at Parentdish and read on for our top tips...

back to school

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A checklist is a good idea, particularly if you have more than one youngster to cater for, as it will ensure you get exactly (and only!) what you need and don't get distracted by those unnecessary extras the kids might be pleading for.

The proper uniform is essential, of course, and with children growing so quickly, it's likely you will need to re-stock. It's an idea to ask the kids to try on more expensive items such as blazers and other branded items as they may still last another year.

Thankfully when it comes to the day-to-day essentials, supermarkets and high street stores have some great deals. Whether shopping online or in store, there are bargains to be had which could help to bring the cost down.

Tesco, for example, are offering a £15 deal which includes a coat, three shirts and trousers or a skirt, while Asda's George schoolwear range offers a two-shirt, trousers or skirt and jumper bundle for just £7.

Other high street stores to check are BHS and M&S, both of which will undoubtedly be offering package deals.

If you are really struggling with the cost, it is worth checking whether your child's school holds a second-hand uniform sale and those on a very low income are sometimes entitled to a grant so check with your local authority.

No doubt there are children out there who are less than enthused at the prospect of going back to school. But few will turn down a shopping trip, even if it is for pencils, rubbers and protractors.

Stationery stores such as WHSmith and Staples are crammed to the rafters with 'back to school essentials' at this time of year and happily, most are offering fabulous deals. At Staples, for instance, there are pencil cases for as little as 87 pence and you can currently get up to 80 per cent off the essential items.

Such offers also extend to 'back to school' packs which will include a range of items in one cheap bundle. No doubt the children will be clamouring for branded items of some sort but if you can buy the essentials cheap, you can then afford to splash out on branded backpacks, lunch boxes or folders.

Now is also the time to buy electronic items such as scientific calculators as, once again, they are usually on offer.

Sports equipment and clothing can be pricey too but large stores such as JJB Sports often include mix and match, or three-for-two offers at this time of year and these can be a money-saver if you have a brood.

Prepare the children
Starting a new school is scary and even children that are already attending school may be anxious about their new teacher or how they will cope with more difficult work. Knowing that they are properly prepared can help to ease their anxieties - if it is a new school, walk or catch the bus before school starts so they feel confident about where they are going.

Focus on positive aspects before they go back - ask about the friends they have missed over the summer and point out holidays abroad or exciting day trips they can talk about when they meet up.

Getting back into the school routine is also a good idea as you may have accepted a few later nights or lie-ins during the summer. Try to get them back into a school-friendly eating and bedtime routine a week before term starts.

And whatever age your children are, being properly prepared the night before the first day is a must. Make sure their bag is packed, their clothes washed, ironed and laid out and you know what you can pack for their lunch - the younger ones will be pleased to know everything is ready and the teenagers, well... there's always the chance they'll leave everything to the last minute!

Are you looking forward to the kids going back to school? Leave a comment below...