15 tips for preparing your kids and home for first day of school

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

Click here to view all other posts in our Back to School Series

School starts back in most states next week, it is the time to start preparing yourself, the kids and your home for the first day of school – putting routines in place in the mornings so you aren’t running around frantically to preparing the kids back to routines and school time sleeping hours.

preparing kids and home for back to school tips

Here are some of my tips to prepare yourself, the kids and the home for school:

Label everything

Having all the kids uniforms, book supplies, bags, lunch boxes etc labelled before school starts.  This will save your stress levels during the year if items go missing.  Lunch boxes and drink bottles always go wandering, left behind in the eating area or another child accidentally takes it home, but if they are clearly labelled it usually will find  back to the rightful owner.

You spend so much money on uniforms, which you don’t want them to go missing.  If clearly labelled they should find their way back to the owner.  Plus it’s also easy to distinguish which uniform belongs to which child when folding away clean washing.

Back to School - Labels - Uniforms clothing

Encourage independence

Before your child starts school it’s important that they now know how to do particular things themselves such as:

  • Open their lunch box
  • Open food in lunchbox, ie peel off yoghurt covers, peel banana
  • Open drink bottles
  • Dress themselves
  • Go to the bathroom themselves
  • Wash their hands
  • Helping to pack school bag
  • Getting in and out of the car themselves with their school bag
  • Ensure they can recognise their own bag, lunchbox etc.

It’s important for children to start doing tasks for themselves and making their own decisions and choices. Children that have too much done for them will become reliant on others which will hinder their self-confidence, resulting in helplessness, frustration and anger when it comes to the time they need to do it themselves.

It’s our motherly instincts that want us to do everything for our kids, but we need to let go for the benefit of the kids, as children who are responsible and independant are more likely to succeed in school and socially.

Be informed

Visit your schools website and browse through all the pages, taking note of school starting and finishing hours, uniform policies, tuckshop days and browse the menu (print out so you have it on hand, keep it where you would keep the brown paper bags).

Set dates in your calendar

When your browsing the schools website look for the events calendar, this will have dates for teacher/parent information nights, upcoming assembly days, public holidays, student free days etc.  Write all this information in your calendar so you don’t forget important dates and can book kids into extra care if needed for student free days.

Visit the school

Most schools usually open by the end of the last week of the school holidays.  If you are new to the school take your child in for a walk to familiarise themselves with classrooms, toilet blocks play areas etc.  This would be a good chance if you roughly know where your child’s classroom is to designate a pick up area where they can meet you after school.

As you are walking around the school encourage your child to ask questions.

Don’t be a friend pimp

Teach your child to make their own friends.  Encourage them to go up to their classmates and ask if they can play with them, or sit with them for lunch.  Don’t be a friend pimp and look for the ‘friendliest’ looking mum in the playground who you think you will get along with and then push your children together.  This is creating important social skills for your kids.  But in saying this it is also a lovely idea to be friendly with the other school mums, but it’s not necessary to push your kids together.

Get enough sleep

Most families are usually lenient with bedtime during school holidays, but it is good practice to get back into routine the week before school goes back so you are not battling with them the night before schools starts and not sleeping in till all hours.  It is recommended the kids have the following amount of hours sleep:

  • 3-6 years: 10-12 hours – bedtime example:  7pm
  • 7-12 years: 10-11 hours – bedtime example: 8pm
  • 12-18 years: 8-9 hours  – bedtime example: 9pm

As children get older, with school, sporting and social commitments bedtime gradually becomes later.

Have a home for everything

Create a home for all the kid’s school items:

Create rules

Let your children know what you expect of them.  Rule considerations:

  • Will the kids watch TV on school mornings
  • Will you limit TV time in the evenings
  • When do you want homework done, after afternoon tea, before dinner or after dinner
  • Do you expect your child to empty their own school bag
  • What you would like them to do with uniforms once they get changed

Don’t continually repeat yourself

Have a list of tasks that you want the children to complete each morning.  ie. Have breakfast, get dressed, brush your teeth.  I want to go into a morning routine in more detail soon, however, want to share the benefit of creating a routine chart is that it will stop you nagging, yelling and repeating yourself.

Routine Chart on kids wall

I created this routine chart for my kids when they started kindy, to stop me continually repeating myself each day.  When I created it I considered the order I want them to complete the tasks, in particular to brush their teeth before they got dressed to prevent toothpaste falling onto their clean uniform.

I have framed mine, but you can laminate them, or print and blu-tak straight to wall.

Morning Routine Chart for kids

The more that you read print can be found here.

Perfectly Imperfect

Encourage your children to leave their room tidy before school starts.  All school age children have the ability to make their bed, allow them the independence of doing it themselves, and perhaps it may not be to your standard, but save yourself time and don’t re-do it, be proud they have made the effort.  Here are a few more things I allow to be ‘perfectly imperfect’.

perfectly imperfect organised house

Give children responsibly tasks

It’s an important lesson for the kids to help around the home, to share the responsibility of household tasks.  School age children have the ability to do tasks such as unpack the dishwasher, sweep the floor etc.  You will find a full list of age appropriate children’s task ideas here.

Prepare the night before

Before the kids go to bed get them to:

  • they have clean uniforms
  • packed their homework into their school bag
  • have all other items in their school bag and ready for next day ie. sports uniform, show and tell

If you find you have a very busy morning you may want to prepare your school lunches the night before and keep them in the fridge ready to place into school bags in the morning.

Create a laundry system for school uniforms

If you purchased only a few school uniforms you will need to create a plan of laundry attack to ensure that you allow time to wash uniforms through the week so they have enough uniforms for the end of the week.   I have a laundry schedule which you can read about here.

Laundry Wall Art & Schedule - Design 1Prepare the fridge and pantry for school lunches

Planning food for kids lunch boxes is essential.  Kids need to have healthy nutritious lunches and by planning ahead you are going to have all the food required in the fridge or pantry and eliminate the stress of wondering what to pack for lunch.  I use this lunchbox planner here.

You can read some of my lunch box idea posts here:

Lunchbox with Rice Crackers

What is your best tip for preparing for school returning?


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Kristy January 20, 2015 - 7:49 AM

this is such a great post, my eldest starts school this year, she is exciting, me not so much I really don’t know what I am in for, so this gives me a really good guide on what I need to change now, I didn’t even think of making sleep time earlier in the lead up, but of course that makes complete sense.

Sharon January 20, 2015 - 7:50 AM

I used to be all over the place with my laundry until I read your laundry system post, I got one of your prints for my wall and has kept me really organised. Thank you.

Miss Maudy January 20, 2015 - 7:51 AM

Oh my, I am doing that strange laugh and rocking in the corner… My children have had a list of things to do in the morning for – well, at least 3-4 years. Now I shout “what are you doing” and “what are you supposed to be doing?” followed by “check your list” instead of clean your teeth, get dressed, you do not have to kill your shirt before you put it on (ok, I still have to shout that one). But this won’t stop me updating the list for this year, shouting or rocking in the corner.

Karen January 22, 2015 - 11:02 AM

Thanks for this Miss Maudy,am crying with laughter after reading your post. My boys and i are just about to join this rollercoster this year with my eldest starting kindy, and like your child my boy also frequently “attacks” his T-shirts.

Ali January 20, 2015 - 8:41 AM

This is my sons first year at school – DO I LABEL SCHOOL SOCKS?!

I have no idea if its over the top or perfectly reasonable!

Miss Maudy January 20, 2015 - 8:47 AM

I never bothered, but because my kids could wear sports socks, I just bought ten pairs of cheap identical white ankle socks at the start of the year, and chucked the remaining seven and a half pairs at the end of the year.

Alana January 20, 2015 - 5:22 PM

Hi there, I teach prep and have had many sock mix ups – the students at our school do PMP (perceptual motor program) twice a week and this requires bare feet. I teach the kiddies to put their socks into their shoes, but no system is perfect and I have had a couple go missing from time to time! It really depends on how distressed you’ll be over a missing sock! Also, things like swimming programs etc will require shoes off (and never discount the times we must change their shoes and socks after those way too appealing puddles during winter ;))

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 20, 2015 - 6:36 PM

Yes Ali, and it’s not over the top. The kids don’t take the shoes off at school, but I like to know who’s socks belong to who when at home. I just use a black laundry marker.

Gina January 20, 2015 - 9:56 AM

I am totally a friend pimp. My kid gravitates towards the sort of children who get her in trouble or distract her. I’m quite happily a friend pimp lol!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 20, 2015 - 6:38 PM

I am a friend pimp too Gina and think the term is so funny. When I was at a meeting for our kids new school this term was brought up. The school was trying to help the new kids transition and create independence and I laughed when it was mentioned as I have totally done that in the past, created great friendships with the mums too, but I really do like the concept of the idea that the kids should make their own friends.

Sarah January 20, 2015 - 12:33 PM

I read a similar post this time last year from this site and it was the best thing I’ve ever done. My very shy son started prep so we implemented the ‘eating from the lunch box’ the week leading up to first day of school along with the change in bed time for ten days prior. We knew it was going to be stressful for everyone – more so my husband and I but atleast we knew he was eating properly and wasn’t sleep deprived. At tiny bit of practice certainly helped set him up for what was a wonderful introduction into school life

LISA @ STARLIGHT MUMMY January 21, 2015 - 8:43 AM

I have my middle child starting Prep this year and it’s possible that I’m way more nervous than him! Actually, definitely more nervous, he’s excited! I’m having mild palpitations about meeting all the new parents, him establishing a friendship group, me making my own Mummy friends, eeeekk!

Lisa February 15, 2015 - 2:13 PM

In the lead up to starting school we did a practice run. At each stage I photographed my child doing the activity. Then using a racetrack template I found on the Internet I added the child’s photo of each activity along the track. I laminated a track & a race car for each child. Now they move their cars along the track using blue tac and when they reach the finish line they are ready for school. It’s been great & a fun way for preschool & kindergarten children who can’t read yet. Now instead of yelling “have you brushed your teeth, have you made your bed” etc I just ask what’s next on their racetrack.
I also brought an A4 visual art diary for each child. Each day when a note comes home I trim it and stick it into the diary. It’s an easy & simple way to store all of the information relevant to that child. I always know where the notes are & I don’t have a big ugly file to sort through to find out what time an excursion starts etc or worse still a pile of paperwork that I will get around to filing one day. I also stick copies of merit awards, homework sheets, party invitations and sometimes newsletters. I cover it with copies of the class photographs. At the end of the year it’s a great record of what they have done and learnt, what excursions they have been on or what activities have taken place at the school. It’s a time capsule in a book and I find it works very well.

Tracey January 18, 2016 - 1:50 AM

Hi I love your post! I am a Family Day Care educator and along with the parents we want to create a morning chart as you have done here to help the children transition in the morning as well as giving them some responsibilities. Do you sell these by chance?

TIA Tracey

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 19, 2016 - 12:37 PM

Hi Tracey Yes I do, I also make personalised charts, they are availble here: https://theorganisedhousewife.com.au/shop/printable-routine-charts/

Joy June 23, 2016 - 2:03 PM

Hello! I really would like your routine chart, but when I try to go to your shop it keeps telling me “error.”

rebecca gutov August 22, 2016 - 6:20 AM

Where can i get a copy of your printable charts…?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 29, 2016 - 8:52 AM

they are all available in my shop https://theorganisedhousewife.com.au/shop/

C January 16, 2018 - 8:08 PM

Even though it’s a few years old I’m so glad I stumbled across this list! My tiny-tot starts school in a couple of weeks time and I’ve been feeling really anxious about it – but she is crazy excited to start. This has given me some great ideas to help us prepare so just thought I’d leave a little thank you note here!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 17, 2018 - 8:45 AM

Oh I’m so glad. Thank you for your feedback


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