Back to school checklist
Here’s what you really need to make a smooth start to the year.
(Getty Images)
Deep pockets The start of the school year is hell on the finances. Not only do you need to buy uniforms, stationery and books, you’ll also need to stock up on all those unforeseen expenses such as cricket pads and ballet pumps.

If you are struggling to pay school fees, don’t wait until you’re three months in arrears to apply for an exemption. Our school fee exemption calculator will provide a guide to whether or not you will be successful in your application.

An attitude adjustment Remember how you were continually bitching about the school towards the end of the year? ‘Bloody exam timetable sucks, why must they have the prizegivings all in the same week, the report is rubbish etc...’

Now’s the time to pack all that in a sack and throw it away. You and your child will fare much better in most conventional schools if you give the teacher your support and try to do things as, when and how they are requested.

So don’t be the annoying dweeb who buys your Grade 4 son a scientific calculator because you think it looks cool. And don’t hem your daughter’s skirts into thigh pelmets because it’s more fashionable.

Finding civil ways to talk to teachers is the most important contribution you can make to your child’s educational wellbeing this year.
A sense of humour School rules and requests can sometimes be puzzling and peculiar. Does it really matter if your daughter’s pencils are in a bag rather than a box? Must all the labels really be sewn onto the sleeve not the collar?

Teachers will usually have a good explanation of why they like things done a certain way, but if not, try to laugh it off in a supportive, not derisive, way.

A checklist As soon as you can, make it your child’s responsibility to tick off the items he or she needs on a daily basis. Do you really want to be asking a hairy 18-year-old if he has a sharp pencil, or fielding plaintive calls from your matric daughter when she forgets her swimming costume?

Grade 1s can follow a simple pictorial checklist that says: lunchbox, pencil case, takkies etc.

These will also help:
  • Sticky plastic
  • An indelible marker
  • A lifetime supply of dried fruit sticks
  • A little packet of tissues for the school bag

What advice can you give for Back to School shopping?

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