Back to school soon

The start of the school year is an exciting time for most kids. Here are some tips to help you help your child make the most of it.

Getting ready for the first day

  • If your child is new to the school, visit the school grounds over the holidays to help them feel comfortable with their new surroundings.
  • Walking, scooting or cycling to school is a great start to the day, practice the safest route to school over the holidays.
  • It’s easy to let bedtimes, and getting up times, slip during the school holidays.  Start getting back into a school bedtime routine a few days before school starts so your child has time to adjust.
  • If your child is anxious about their first day, make time to talk to them about their worries. There's loads of advice online about how to support anxious children(external link) listening and asking rather than telling them not to worry.
  • If your child is starting school for the first time, check out these tips on enrolling and starting your child at school.
  • Get your child to have their clothing out and backpack ready the night before to reduce stress in the morning.
  • Make sure you’ve labelled your child’s lunchbox, drink bottle, sun hat and any clothing likely to be taken off during the day.


  • Chiropractors recommend(external link).
  • Backpacks should be no wider than your child’s chest.
  • The straps should be shortened until the bottom of the bag is just above the child’s waist, and not sitting on their buttocks.
  • Wide, padded shoulder straps will help distribute the weight evenly.
  • A hip or chest belt will take some of the strain off your child’s neck and shoulders.
  • Only carry what they need for school each day.
  • Pack the heaviest items at the base of the bag, closest to your child’s back.

Lunchbox food

  • Pack a lunch that will give your child energy to last the day and help with their concentration. A healthy lunchbox should include a mix of fruit, vegetables, whole grains (such as wholegrain bread, crackers or cereals), dairy products (such as cheese and yogurt) and protein (such as nuts, seeds, eggs, meat and fish). Limit treats such as chippies and chocolate biscuits.
  • Getting your child to help pack their lunchbox helps ensure they’ll eat it. At school, most kids like food that is quick to eat and not messy.
  • Keeping hydrated is important for concentration too – water is best for drink bottles.
  • Half fill the drink bottle with water, put it in the freezer overnight and then top up with water from the tap in the morning. This will keep the water cool all day.
  • Find out more about healthy lunchboxes(external link) or check out the lunchbox suggestions for each food group on Kiwi Families(external link).



  • Unless the school provides stationery, you’ll probably have a stationery list from your child’s school.
  • Most stationery shops have deals on at this time of year so it pays to shop around.
  • Covering and labelling your child’s books can be really time consuming – don’t leave it till the night before. Look online for ideas such as wrapping the books in plain paper and getting your child to decorate – this can be cheaper and a lot more fun than buying sticky covering.


Digital Devices

  • Some schools ask students to bring their own digital device.
  • Netsafe have great advice for parents on buying and using devices for school(external link)
  • Retailers usually have back to school deals on devices for school, or your child’s school may have already negotiated a deal with a few suppliers. Shop around for the best deal, and ask about finance options to help spread the cost out.
  • Talk to your child’s school if you are unable to provide a device for use at school – the school should have devices for students to use, or may have contact with organisations that can help supply one.

Supporting learning at home

  • Supporting and encouraging your child’s learning at home can make a huge difference to their progress over the year, Check out the tips for primary school and secondary school.
  • Read to your kids, or get them to read to you, it’s great fun and will do them the world of good.
  • If you have concerns about your child’s progress, make a time to chat with their teacher.


Screen time


  • Keeping kids engaged in education is vital for their success at school and later in life.
  • Regular attendance at school makes all the difference – a Year 11 student, who only attends school half the time, has just a one-in-five chance of getting NCEA level 1 whereas a student who attends every day has about a 90 percent chance of achieving that qualification.
  • If your child's wagging school, talk to their teacher or the school principal before it becomes a serious problem. Find out more.

Budgeting for school


Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Tell us what you think.