Tips for Simplifying the School Run
Going back to school represents an important event in any family’s life. Parents not only have to get their children ready to get back into their school routine after the holidays, but they also need to buy them all the necessary materials.
In fact, this year parents will spend an average of €1,467 for each child in secondary school and €1,123 for each child in primary school; these numbers are higher compared to last year, according to a survey carried out by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU).
This year, however, going back to school raises new concerns, since COVID-19 has imposed new logistical challenges and has added a high degree of uncertainty in regard to how classes will unfold.
Here are all the details you need to organise a safe and relaxed back-to-school:
- Take advantage of back-to-school deals
Almost a third of Irish parents are forced to borrow money in order to cover the costs of going back to school. One strategy for saving is to take advantage of the deals that many brands and department stores launch specifically for these dates. Keep in mind that if you buy school supplies in packs, items such as notebooks and pens will be cheaper, and will also last the entire school year. If your child’s school allows it, another option is to buy much cheaper generic clothes that replace the school uniform.
- Explore different options before buying books
Don’t immediately rush to the school’s bookstore to buy your books – instead, you should first check out the local second-hand bookstores and explore websites that sell school books. For example, on Amazon, you may be able to find used books your child needs, which will allow you to save a lot of money. If the school your child attends is part of the School Book Rental Plan, you can also cut down on costs, as some books may be covered for a lower price.
- Change your child’s schedule a few days before starting school
During the holidays, it’s normal for children to have a more relaxed schedule. They are likely to go to bed later and not get up as early. However, when parents and children are tired, going back to school will be a struggle. To avoid a few complicated and stressful first days of school, it is a good idea to start establishing a sleep routine a few days before. This way, your child’s biological clock will adapt to the new schedule and it won’t be so hard for your child to get up early. In addition, they’ll be able to take better advantage of being in class since they’ll be well-rested and attentive.
- Get everything ready the night before
To avoid the morning rush and confusion, it’s best to get everything ready the night before. Set out the clothes and shoes that your child will wear, as well as their backpack with all the books, notebooks and school supplies that they’ll need to take with them. Some parents even go a step further and prepare their breakfast/lunch at night in order to save time in the morning. You could even get all of your things ready for work so that you don’t get overly stressed first thing in the morning.
- Get up an hour earlier
The first days of going back to school are usually difficult for everyone, not just for children. If you don’t want to be in a rush, in a bad mood or stressed out, you should get up an hour earlier. That way, you can have breakfast as a family and get ready to leave and get to school a little bit earlier, to avoid starting off the school year in a mad rush.
- Prepare your child for the changes that will take place at their school
Going back to school this year is somewhat atypical, so it’s important that parents prepare their children for the hygiene, safety and social distancing measures that will be taken from the moment they get on the school bus. The Department of Education has outlined some general guidelines that you can use as a script to explain to your child how to behave, although each school has the flexibility to maximise the school spaces and apply the rules that ensure the safety of its students. As a general rule, it’s important that your child knows that in order to avoid spreading the virus, they must maintain social distancing both inside and outside the classroom, as well as wear a mask and wash their hands frequently.
- Get ready for distance learning
According to the results of a survey conducted by ILCU, 59% of parents believe that home schooling will be combined with in-person classes this year. However, more than a third of parents have also recognised that they don’t have enough resources for their children to study from home. Therefore, it’s important that your family budget includes the purchase of materials that your child will need to keep up with classes from home, such as a computer or tablet.