Tips for first-time school parents

Starting school is a major milestone. Not only is there a sense of anticipation from the children, but first-time parents can find it overwhelming. We’ve seen many a tissue session over the years with our staff and Canada Bay Club members reminiscing about the rite of passage. So we’ve shared some of the top tips for first time school parents below.

Uniforms, every day!

Shopping for the first uniform can be overwhelming. How do you work out how many shirts, shorts, T-shirts or school dresses you will you need to get through the week? A good place to start is to think about how often your washing machine gets a workout. If you’re a ‘wash every day’ kinda person, then you could safely start with two of each uniform piece. Alternatively, depending on your budget invest in a uniform for each day to save the daily washing stress.

If you’re still unsure about quantity, most schools have a uniform shop either on the grounds or as a shop-front, which are open extended hours at the beginning of the school year. The volunteers or staff are often parents who’ve been here before and can offer great advice. Just ask. Many schools also have a second hand uniform store where you can find a treasure trove of pre-loved clothing to add to your arsenal of school supplies.

Healthy lunchbox ideas

Packing a healthy, appealing lunchbox is one stress a lot of first-time school parents face. Kids can be fussy and when you’re entrusting your five-year-old to eat the healthy food you’ve packed for them (when you’re not there to make sure they do!), it’s always good to know you’ve got options. Stuck for ideas? Check out a bunch of healthy eats at Essential Kids, Hot Potato, Kidspot and The Wholesome Child.

Heard of ‘Crunch ‘n’ Sip’ or ‘Fruit Break’? For many local Inner West Schools it’s the morning tea, before morning tea. Children are encouraged to enjoy their favourite fruit and veg in the classroom usually around 9.30am, so they’re hydrated and have a full tummy to kick off the day. It’s another snack box to fill, but the guesswork is taken out of this one, as the requirement is fresh fruit or vegetables and water only. You can learn more here.

Keeping up with the school notes

These days, there are digital portals that most schools use to keep parents, carers and the school community up-to-date with goings on and P&C news. Your class may also have a parent representative to keep you abreast of any class-specific information, too. This is highly useful.

Tip: check your child’s bag each night. You may still get notes home in school bags relating to excursions or class timetables for the term ahead, so it’s always advisable to empty it out to ensure you don’t miss any upcoming events. (And to avoid the odd apple core or banana peel you may find rolling around in there!) This is probably one of the first times your child has had the responsibility of delivering any kind of correspondence, so they’ll need a little help.

The school office is also a great place to familiarise yourself with. It’s the hub of any school and the people behind the desk should be able to help you out with any non-class-related enquiries or point you in the right direction for assistance. Give them a call if you can’t physically enter the school and explain that you’re a new parent and you’ll often be guided with lots of solutions.

First-timer’s fatigue

School is tiring for parents and children! It’s exhausting. Think about it like you’re starting a new job. The mental concentration to remember everything, meet new people, learn new routines and familiarise yourself with new ways of doing things can drain even the most competent adult. Now imagine you’re four, five or six years old! It’s a lot to take in and you’ll find your little person may be more emotional and fatigued than usual while their minds and bodies adjust to the new daily rituals.

With a tired, resistant child, you may find getting out of the house each morning becomes very trying. It’s important to stay calm and endeavour to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to making it to the school bell without rushing. Set the rhythm for the beginning of the day so there are easy-to-follow steps for everyone. It sounds like Groundhog Day but it really will make things smoother when corralling your kindergartener out the door. For more inspo on how to keep it cool in the AM, look to Raising Children’s top tips for developing a morning routine for the school week. Maggie Dent and Steve Biddulph also offer some fabulous practical advice.

Meet the parents

You may be lucky enough to be starting at a school where you already have established friendships. However, if you’re all brand-new to the schoolyard, it can feel like you’re back in the playground for the first time, too. Meeting new people from your school community is something that many schools are keen to facilitate, and even with COVID-19 restrictions there’s often interactive groups that will help with information being shared. In some schools the class parent reps generally try to round up the families for park plays and ‘get-to-know-you meet-and-greets’ about once a term. You’ll be booking play dates for your child in no time.

Missing your lil’ buddy?

Drink coffee and eat cake! When it comes to meeting other grown-ups who are also sending their kids off to school for the first time, the perfect way to get to know a like-minded parent is over a catch up while the kids are at school. Why not head to Canada Bay Club after drop-off and settle yourself down in one of our comfortable lounge areas? From there you can enjoy a coffee and freshly baked treat with new friends, before 3pm rolls around and it’s time to pick up your darling kindergarten students. Alternatively, our new Balcony Bar or The Brasserie is the perfect meeting spot for Parents night catch-ups or just to casually meet up with other local families.

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