Back to school top tips
By Elizabeth Holtom
24 Aug

Here are some practical tips to help you and your children get ready for that big change from holiday mode to school mode in as stress free a way as possible. 

Forward planning

Here is a golden rule for any task your children may want to put off until the last minute: ‘worst first’!  Encourage your children to plan ahead so they really can enjoy the fun of the long holiday.

  • Have they any holiday work to complete?  Make sure this gets done.  Avoid a stressful last minute burst of activity.  Set up a planner - they can then see at a glance how many free days lie ahead of them with relatively small bursts of school work.

  • What books are they reading?  Make sure they have a selection of books, whether fact or fiction, to enjoy.  Keep this vital skill going and encourage discussion round their reading at mealtimes.  Are they reluctant readers?  Perhaps you need to be a role model, spending time with a book or magazine rather than your smartphone.

  • Are you travelling to a country where the language is one they are studying?  If yes, what about trying out a language App such as Brainscape.  Check out how to use flashcards in Study Skills: Building the study skills needed for 13+ and beyond.


A few days before

  • What about waking your children up earlier?  This way it is not such a shock to everyone’s system when you have to gear up to getting out of the house on time.  This may also mean getting them to go to bed a bit earlier.

  • Have you got their school clothes ready? Do they need any new equipment? Make your shopping trip an enjoyable one with a treat included.  It is much better to get them into a positive frame of mind by associating going back to school with fun!

  • Have they met up with school friends during the holidays?  Organise a get together near to the start of term.

The night before

  • Make sure you have everything ready for their first morning back: school uniform, school bag, sports equipment, holiday work.

  • Make sure you have anything you need ready the night before: car keys, your work bag, your gym bag – whatever it is! 

  • Decide what you are going to give them for breakfast and make sure everything is easily to hand when you get this important meal ready.  Check out the suggestions in chapter 1 of Study Skills: Building the study skills needed for 13+ and beyond.


On the day

  • Start by getting up earlier yourself.  Have your coffee and get anything you need to do out of the way first so you can focus fully on your children. 

  • Start as you mean to go on with a clear morning routine for your children: get dressed, have breakfast, clean teeth, gather school bags and head out of the house.  Great if it were this simple!

  • Make sure you have time for that all important hug, either at home or at school – depending on the age and temperament of your children.



  • Children’s energy stores are very low after a food-free night when their bodies have been busy growing and carrying out repairs.  It is vital to give them a nutritious breakfast so they are ready to give maximum concentration and energy to lessons and running around.  A good mix of carbohydrate and protein is best.

  • Here are a few quick suggestions: porridge with sliced banana, poached egg on wholemeal toast, low-sugar breakfast cereal with fruit, nuts or seeds and milk, fresh fruit smoothies sprinkled with seeds, beans on wholemeal toast, wholemeal muffin or bread with low-sugar jam, marmite or peanut butter.

  • Eat with them.  Have a healthy breakfast yourself.  


Active start

  • Exercise increases our heart beat which increases the amount of oxygenated blood going round our body and to our brain. 

  • This is why it is worth getting off to an active start in the morning.  If possible, walk or cycle to school.  If you drive to school, why not get there a bit earlier so they have time to play in the playground. 


Technology alert

  • Do you put your children in front of a game on a tablet or the TV while you get ready to leave the house?  It is so easy to do!  However, research shows that this can increase stress levels in the brain which will block their ability to pay attention and control impulses. If you can avoid this, then you are helping your children arrive at school ready to learn.

  • What about your own screen habits? Are you trying to check emails whilst getting breakfast ready?  Be honest and be prepared to change your own habits so you model what is best for your children.

The calmer the start to the day at home, the more positive your children will feel when they arrive at school. Get their school days off to a happy, healthy start.

Elizabeth Holtom

For more top tips, you can purchase Elizabeth's brand new title Study Skills: Building the study skills needed for 13+ and beyond for just £12.99.


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Tags: 13 plus, back to school, common entrance

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