Every new school year offers the chance for a fresh start, where young learners can expand their knowledge, skills and friendship group with confidence. It can be a time of anxiety for some, a time of intense excitement for others. One thing’s for sure: the more organised they are, the more confident they’ll be as they head back to school. We spoke to three experienced Australian teachers to find the best ways to make the transition a smooth one.

Develop the Right Mindset for Back-to-School Success

If your child is heading back to school, they’ll need essential stationery supplies to start the school year fully prepared.


Sia Goutzas, a secondary school maths teacher and the principal of Maths Words Not Squiggles, a group of Sydney tutoring centres, says getting into the school mindset is important. “I know from doing this for quite a long time that by the time February comes around for kids, it takes them about three or four weeks to get their brains working again.” 

In the weeks leading up to back-to-school, Sia suggests getting your child involved in choosing their school supplies, such as stationery and a pencil case, and get them reading and revising the work they did the year before. It’s not about learning new things; it's about jogging the memory a little, to get their minds ready for learning again. 

Sia’s tips include making sure you buy the items needed for the start of the year in advance, helping your child revise by looking through their textbooks with them, and avoiding rushing to assess kids during the first week back at school – let their brains warm up a bit.

Hot Tip: As the holidays draw to close, start getting them back in the routine with a gradual return to school bed- and wake- times, so that first week is not such a shock to the system.

What To Try: Stationery

SEE ALSO: The Best Eco-Friendly Products for Your Back to School Shop

Jump Back Into the Rhythm of School Life

One of the best tips for back-to-school success? Label everything at the start of a new school year.

Before you know it, your kids will be into the school-term routine, with sports, music lessons and all the other after-school activities firing up at the same time. Encourage them to go to bed early and get up early so that when week one arrives, your kids are in a good sleep routine and have the energy to rise and shine. Andre Paitai, a Grade 3 primary school teacher from Queensland, lays the groundwork for a healthy morning routine with her own family, too. “I start prepping them for earlier bedtimes, and get them up at 6.30am, even though it's still the holidays. I’m just getting them ready so they’re not in shock on that first day.”

Andre says the number one thing families can do to prepare for going back to school is having their child’s stationery ready and labelled. She says students have “a sense of belonging” when they can recognise and identify their books in the classroom. Parents can cover books with coloured contact or use a labelling machine to attach names to their children’s books, pencils, lunchboxes and uniforms.

Encourage your kids not to be anxious about friendships in a new class, too. “School is about learning how to deal with social situations,” says Andre. 

Hot Tip: Older children can help create their own labels, and personalise them just for fun.

What To Try: Labelling and Book Covers

SEE ALSO: 6 Clever Ways To Make Kids’ Name Labels for School

Organisation and Preparation Are Key

 Back to school tips from teachers to parents include helping kids stay organised with diaries, notebooks and folders.

Kelly Hussey, head of student services at Loyola College in Melbourne, tells us “lots of kids have organisational issues”. Keeping a neat and welcoming study space can assist, and Kelly suggests simple things like colour-coding folders can really help students prepare for going back to school, while having conversations about books and stationery can mentally help them get into school mode. 

Experts suggest parents who take an interest in their child’s learning play a big role in helping them thrive at school. Kelly recommends that parents of high school students who have academic anxiety about the new school year could try getting to know more about what their child is studying. “Read the English novels with your child so that you can discuss the themes and issues with them,” she says. 

Kelly recognises that, for some students, heading back to school can be an anxious time. Develop good parent-teacher rapport; get to know your child’s teachers and ask them about the plans for the new school year. “Communicate with teachers so that your child knows who will be in their class,” she suggests as one way to help them feel more prepared.

And her advice for senior students? “Strike that balance and get a routine going right from the start of the year,” she says. “Use a diary and set aside time in your schedule for sport, rest, friendships and study.” 

Hot Tip: Mindfulness apps like Smiling Mind can help kids deal with anxiety and develop healthy habits for the new school year. 

What To Try: Folders, Diaries and Notebooks

SEE ALSO: How to Help Your Kids Learn New Skills and Subjects

It’s Not Just for Kids – Plan for the Whole Family

 

At the start of a new school year, family planners and wall calendars can help you adjust to the back to school norm.

Get your family a planner so that everyone knows where they need to be – and the equipment they need to prepare – every day of the week. If the kids have hockey or music lessons after school on a Tuesday, they can check the board/planner and pack their sticks, shin pads, mouthguards or instruments the night before. Use it to book in special family times, too, such as movie nights or board games after dinner.

What To Try: Planners

SEE ALSO: How to Save on Back to School Supplies