I do love a good list.
There is something very comforting about making a list when you have something to prepare for. So when the kids are going back to school, I am the Queen of Lists.
This is my basic back to school checklist which includes everything a child will need when starting school, or starting at a new school. Sometimes I am lucky and there are some items which do not need to be replaced, but not often!
Ooo, that is a dilemma, isn’t it? If you buy too early the kids might have a growth spurt over the summer and then it might not fit. Leave it too late and you won’t be able to find what you need in the right size. The best places to buy school uniform online.
I have always risked it and bought later in the summer, but leaving myself enough time to get the dreaded name tapes sewn in. I have found that the most name tapes you can sew in an evening is about 15 before your fingers get sore and your back begins to ache! The average school child needs name tapes in 20-25 items, and a child at boarding school could need tapes in over 100 items. Here are some tips on sewing in name tapes.
When I went to upper school, the list sent to my parents of the items I was required to have included a hymnbook - it wasn't even a church school. They tried every bookshop in town (this was pre-internet of course) to no avail and they finally had to order a copy from our friendly independent bookseller.
Of course, I was the only one in the year who had bought a copy, the school actually provided hymnbooks. The list we were sent was out of date. So I would recommend that if there are any strange items on your school’s list, try to ask friends with kids at the school if they really use them before you go to a lot of expense.
This is my bugbear. My elder son’s secondary school insists that every child has a pair of football boots available for PE. He wears them less than 6 times a year, and outgrows them by the summer.
And why do they need two different colours of PE shorts? Why will one pair not do? Two different types of PE socks? Why? Why?
My other son’s school insisted that each child bought a small whiteboard and pen. He tells me he has never used it once.
Here is my checklist with suggested quantities. And I’ve made a printable version of this list so that you can tick off the items as you get them. Also note that you won’t need them all, it will depend on how old your child is.
Your child's school should provide you with a list of their own specific requirements, so I’ve left you some lines to add those odd random items that they ask you to get.
Coat which should be warm and waterproof.
A Thin Waterproof Jacket is often suggested for school trips. You may be able to hold off buying this until a trip is planned
Cardigan, Sweater or Sweatshirt You’ll need at least two of these.
Shirt, Blouse or Polo Shirt Assume that you will need a clean one every day if they are white, so you might need up to 5, depending on how often you do the laundry, and how messy your child is!
Shorts, Trousers or Skirt You will need at least two of these.
Blazer One if needed
Tie One if needed
Socks or Tights You’ll need at least 5 of these.
Shoes in the school’s required colour, which in 99.9% of cases will be black.
A Hat is a good idea, especially as it can still be quite sunny in September. There may be an official school hat or cap that you can buy, but most schools allow you to wear any suitable sun hat, as sun protection is important.
Image Credit: Linda Xu
The amount of PE kit you will need will depend on how sporty your kids are. If they play on all the school teams you will probably need more than I have listed here, this list is just the minimum requirement.
Track Suit or you might only need sweatpants. That is probably one of those ‘ask around’ things.
Shorts or Skirt One should be enough. Girls just wear shorts the same as boys, but some schools may still require a skirt or netball skort, and this may be in addition to expecting you to buy shorts (sexism - mutter, mutter….).
Sports T-Shirt You will need one or two, depending on how much sport your kid does. I have always got away with just one.
Rugby-Type Shirt Most secondary schools specify a rugby-type shirt for PE. You should only need one, which is good as they are pretty expensive. This is why you will probably only need tracksuit bottoms, the Rugby shirt can be worn on cold days.
Sports Socks I would buy the bare minimum of these, at least early on. Realistically, most kids don’t bother changing their socks for PE and you will soon find out how strictly the school enforces the wearing of sports socks.
Plimsolls/Trainers Even in primary school most kids wear trainers for outdoor PE rather than plimsolls. Plimsolls might be worn for indoor games but bare feet are still the norm.
Football Boots will only be needed in primary school if your child plays on a school team. At secondary school they are usually specified for both girls and boys
P E Kit Bag You can get away with a drawstring nylon bag for primary school age kids; by secondary school they will probably need a larger sports bag.
Sports Equipment such as a gum shield and shin pads. More of the things that you will buy that never get used.
These are the other bits that you will need, plus some random bits and bobs that schools sometimes request.
Wellington Boots Mainly in primary school, for rainy days and occasionally they are specified for school trips.
A Lab Coat may be required for some secondary schools (yet another item for the “never to be used” category).
Name Tapes, Iron-on Tapes, Identity Stickers Seriously, name EVERYTHING, even if you just write on it with a Sharpie. Even the nicest schools have light-fingered pupils and some kids have a talent for losing things. I’m old school myself and sew-in name tapes where possible. (I've always used Cash’s name tapes) I’ve never got on with iron-on name tapes, but some people find them invaluable.
For other items such as lunchboxes, school bags etc. I buy My Nametagsstickers, which are brilliant and will stay on through thick and thin and even survive the dishwasher. I order loads of them with just my surname and if necessary I add the child’s initial in pen. Read my review of My Nametags
School Bag Young kids probably won’t need a bag. Schools often sell cute little nylon bags with the school logo on them. They are pretty useless, too small to put more than a few sheets of paper in, so I would not buy one unless you have money to throw around. A rucksack is much more useful.
Lunch Box for if your child is taking their own lunch to school, plus a bottle for their drink. Do you bit for the environment and don’t send your kid with a carton or drink pouch every day, put some juice in a reusable bottle – you will save a lot of money too.
Water Bottle Lots of schools ask you to supply a water bottle for the kids. Some may allow you to reuse a plastic bottle.
Stationery e.g. pens, pencils, calculator, geometry set, paper, books, eraser, diary if not supplied. This will depends on the child’s age, and what subjects they are studying. Your school will tell you what they expect you to provide, and you’ll need a pencil case to put it all in too.
Studs for Piercings If your child has pierced ears, they will have to wear studs for school.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.