Back to school 2020 isn’t quite the same as 2019 was. It’s been so much longer since they were in and we still aren’t quite sure what school will look like next Wednesday. School have sent us an email with some information but there are still plenty of questions.
Here’s how we prepare for R-day, returning to school.
R minus 3 weeks
While at my parents on our massive road trip I book into our local John Lewis for a school shoe fitting the Friday before schools started back. I have a rule that I leave it as late as possible to avoid possible growth spurts before the shoes are needed, but always book to avoid the long waits.
R minus 12 days
I get the boys to try on all the clothes. Large boy has out grown everything. Seriously. His shirts don’t meet in the middle and his trousers won’t go over his bum. Two jumpers are OK but only because I bought age 9-10 last spring (he’s 8). Small boy still fits some trousers and shorts but the uniform changes between reception and year 1 this year, for only the second year. So none of large boy’s year 1 yellow polo shirts are allowed, small boy needs all new white button up shirts.
I figure out what I need to buy – almost an entire uniform for large boy and quite a lot for small. Small boy is 5 but he’s going to be wearing a couple of age 7 shirts and jumpers that fitted large boy a year ago. They’re kind of baggy but they’ll do.
So on my weekly shop I pick up a couple of shirts and pairs of shorts for them both. The uniform shopping begins in earnest.
R minus 7 days
At the beginning of the holiday, large boy’s teacher sent home a letter to each child in the class, with some information about her and reassurance about the year to come. She’d also included a little “all about me” booklet for them to fill in. Small boy’s teacher sent a similar letter and I made him a sheet to fill in about himself too. We all sit down and the boys fill in their information sheets – large boy writing paragraphs and expressing his excitement to be going back to school. Small boy just lists his favourite colours, food, shoes, and season.
R minus 5 days
The great shoe fitting adventure. The day begins with a glimmer of hope. Both boys had new shoes at February half term and I got them both roomy ones so they wouldn’t need new ones by July – little did I know they wouldn’t be wearing them 3 weeks later. Anyway, small boy has had a massive growth spurt but his shoes feel like they might still be the right size.
Off to John Lewis and the lovely sales lady confirms my suspicion, Start Rite shoes are always roomy and they still fit. Winner!
Large boy on the other hand has indeed been growing again, new shoes required as expected. He tries on a couple of pairs and, of course, prefers the more expensive pair. A little chat and another try of the more reasonable ones and he decides they’ll be just fine – I’m not yet convinced they’ll be wearing them for that long so don’t want to empty all of the bank account.
Shoes purchased, onto the supermarket next door to hunt down shirts and jumpers. The jumpers are sorted easily, navy blue V-neck sweaters available in any size we could have needed. Shirts are trickier, large boy only needs 2 more but there were no 2 packs in size 9-10 whatsoever. One lone 5-pack suffices but means we have more shirts than required, never mind. He needs jeans too and has a choice of colours and styles. Not a single pair of 9-10 boys pants though, and only one “choice” of pencil case. However, the sale rail had plenty of half price swimming shorts so I invest in next summer for both boys, trusting in hope and a vaccine to ensure that they will be of use.
Back home we drop off small boy and head out to our local supermarket to find pants and a pencil case – not a common combination of purchases but with those, some new crayons and pencil sharpner we’re done and ready for school. Probably.
Later I defy convention and all previous habits, ironing all the uniform and labelling it a full four days before I normally would have done. Then, on a roll, I pack their PE kits and their school bags.
R minus 2 days
Right, clothes ironed and hung out, shoes cleaned, school bags prepared. Last minute decision to get small boy new trainers and put current ones into PE bag, implemented. Lunches books online. Small boy’s teacher emailed to let her know how nervous he’s feeling.
Half way through the evening there’s a minor panic on the year 4 Facebook group about book bags (thin rectangular jobbies useful only for one or two very small books) or backpacks (able to contain the requisite lunch box, juice bottle, sanitizer, planner, pencil case and possibly half tonne reading book). The PTA chair is up in arms at the suggestion her 8 yr old should need a new book bag at this late hour. Luckily the year 1 teacher has a child in our class, she will check and get back to us. Oh the drama!
R minus 1 day
The school bag drama is over, an email informs us that only reception are limited to book bags and everyone else can bring a proper bag. I call the office to check arrangements for breakfast and afterschool clubs.
Large boy’s teacher sends a lovely message reassuring us that everyone’s nervous and she’s always there for the children or parents.
Himself has taken the day off to allow the boys to have breakfast at home and go into school for the start of the day rather than going to breakfast club on their first day back.
They’re up at 7am and into our bed for cuddles, normal school routine. Then breakfast, dressed (with adjusting of shorts waistbands and button assistance), teeth and they’re good to go. I take some photos of them in the garden in all their smartness – quick before small boy gets filthy.
I have to settle down for some training at 8.30am so wave from my office window as they get in the car with himself.
Job done… update later to see how the day went for them.
After R day
During the day, himself was out looking at buying a new car. I had the house to myself. Bliss.
Except after about 3 or 4 hours I realised I was feeling a bit weepy. I wasn’t expecting to feel emotional, I’d been wishing for some peace for months and now I’d got some quiet it’s all a bit too quiet.
Himself fetched the boys home and immediately it felt like normal school service was resumed:
- Small boy has some one else’s jumper. His expensive embroidered one has gone on the first day. Worse all the jumpers was mixed up together which defeats the object of going out to buy all new uniform so they can have freshly laundered clothes every day. Teacher says it was in his drawer.
- He also didn’t get the lunch he’d ordered because it wasn’t available. The system was down and he asked for a sandwich instead having forgotten what he was meant to have.
- Small boy got tripped over by “the mean one” boy with the same name as a nice boy. He’s got a massive scape on his ankle.
- He also forgot to hand his “about me” sheet to his new teacher. Let’s try again tomorrow.
- Large boy tried to come home with no lunchbox. Check list when walking out of his classroom: bag, planner, lunchbox, water bottle, coat. Repeat.
- He also had a whole drama about pencil cases. He got very worked up telling me about it all. The upshot is that he doesn’t need a pencil case.
So definitely back to business as usual.