Back to school: teachers, extramurals, lift clubs

South African schools start on Wednesday 17 January, just 2 weeks away. Calm your nerves by going through our list and prepping early so you can start the term confident and relaxed. The last thing your child needs is a stressed-out parent rushing around on day 1!

Name labels

Firstly, order some iron-on labels with your child’s name and surname. You could add his/her grade or your cell number, especially for younger children. You can also buy a fabric marker so you can write the names on the labels.

Label everything, down to the socks. You’ll be surprised how quickly kids lose clothes, especially on PT day when they have to change.


Get last-year’s uniforms out of the cupboards and see if they still fit. You’d be surprised how much kids can grow in half a season! Perhaps you may need to let out a hem or buy bigger school shoes. Many schools have a clothes bank with used uniforms and other school gear that will save you a good wad of cash.

Check: Do you need to work on any badges?

Mind the detail: don’t forget to match up socks; also get underwear and hair bands in the school colour (usually black or navy) for girls.

If your child will be participating in sports, check the equipment. Can you locate the swimming goggles and athletics outfits?

School bag

Some schools have specific branded bags, others may have regulations (for instance backpacks only). Check before you splurge on a Spider-Man bag. For tips on buying the best school backpack, read here:

How to choose a good school bag

Is your child’s school bag too heavy?

Lunch boxes and water bottles

Check that everything still has lids and caps. Or invest in new ones for the new year (they’ll probably get lost at school soon, anyway).

If you’re new to this, check for “BPA-free” labels, and open and close it a few times to test the mechanisms. Some are downright shoddy and will break before the end of term.

If your child is staying after school and you include meals that needs refrigerating, invest in a small cooler bag for the lunchbox.


By now you would’ve received a list of supplies your child will need this year. Hit the back-to-school sales or team up with other parents and buy in bulk.

Also have a stash of stationery in a drawer at home for homework and assignments. 

And don’t forget a good few rolls of plastic and tape – you may have to cover books on day 1 already.

Hair cuts

Make an appointment at a salon and get your kids’ hair trimmed or braided nice and neatly.

After the summer holidays, their hair will be frayed by sun, water and wind. Get a good conditioner for silky, manageable hair. A detangling spray can also save you time and tears on school mornings.

Sadly, also stock up on lice-repellant shampoo – you may need it soon. Check your child’s hair and scalp with a cell phone flashlight, especially behind the ears and in the neck area, once a week.

The school route

If you’re starting at a new school, plan the quickest possible route (not necessarily the shortest) with the least amount of traffic lights. Also ensure you know where the drop off zones are, and check out parking around the school for the first day when you want to go in and meet the teacher. Bear in mind that school traffic is beastly, so reckon in extra time in the morning of the first day.

Ask for a class list early on in the year and see if you can arrange a lift club to ease your morning routine and congestion around the school.

Buy groceries for the lunchboxes

Buy in bulk once a week, and you’ll never struggle to pack the lunchboxes. Bear in mind that many schools have a strict snacks policy, which may prohibit nuts, processed foods or sugary snacks; best to check before you pack these.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Bread or seed rolls with spreads, ham and cheese or salad
  • Fruit: Apple, grapes, bananas, berries or pre-cut fruit salad
  • Veg: Baby tomatoes, cucumber, celery, carrots and a dip
  • Diary: Yogurt or cheese sticks or cubes
  • Nuts and dried fruit

Also read: Must-haves for on-the-go snacks

Clippers out, tats gone

Cut the nails nice and short, and remove any play tattoos, glitter nail polish, craft paint and other decorations from skin and hair. Ensure your child’s ear studs meet school regulations.

Tuck shop money

Discuss with your partner how much you’re prepared to give. You may decide to include it in a pocket money allowance, or give a small amount once a week, or order daily meals which your child can pick up at school, whatever works for your family. The school’s tuck shop menu will dictate the minimum amount, but it’s okay to let your child see it as a treat rather than a right.

You’re about as ready for school as you can be. Now keep an open mind and go with the flow!

But there’s bound to be something we forgot. Comment below or send your advice to make parents’ lives smoother to and we may publish them.

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