School Age

Going to school: practical tips

Going to school: practical tips

School mornings

Getting children ready for school in the morning can feel overwhelming at first, but it does get easier with some discipline and practice. A consistent routine will help everyone get organised in the morning.

You might like to read more about school morning routines, or you could try our 'Beat the buzzer' game for school mornings.

School drop-offs and pick-ups

If you get to school well before the bell, you can see that your child is settled before you leave. If your child feels rushed in the morning, it might make it more difficult for her to settle into the school day.

Your child is likely to feel more secure if you're on time to pick him up after school. And if you're early for pick-up, it gives you a chance to meet other parents, and makes organising playdates easier.

It's worth checking that your child has everything she needs before you leave for school in the morning, and before you come home in the afternoon. This can save on upsets at home and at school when your child can't find her special pencil box or favourite book.


Organising your children's clothing the night before school can save a last-minute rush in the morning. You might also need to pack alternatives in his bag in case the weather changes - for example, a jumper or jacket.

Name labels mean your child won't lose everything she owns - only some things!

Spare underwear is also a good idea.

Make sure your child has a hat in his bag. Hats are compulsory in most schools for at least the first and last term each year, and all year round in many schools.

School lunches and snacks

A healthy lunch and snack helps your child stay alert and meets her energy needs during the day. Many schools have healthy eating policies, so it's a good idea to check your school's policy.

Water is the healthiest drink for children. A refillable bottle of water is better for your child than fruit juice or cordial.

It's common for schools to ban foods that cause allergies. It's important to follow your school's food allergy rules because being in contact with certain foods can be life threatening for some children.

If your child needs medication at school, you need to authorise his teacher to administer it under strict guidelines.

Problems at school

If your child has any problems at school it's best to speak to the teacher as soon as possible, whether by phone or in person. This can stop the problem getting worse. Try to arrange a meeting for a time you won't be interrupted by other children or parents.

School safety rules

Your child will need to know where she can play at school and which areas might be out of bounds. Most schools also have rules about wearing shoes, hats and sunscreen, as well as playground behaviour.

Special days

Schools often hold special events. These can be highlights of the school year for children. If you can, try to make it to these special events. Your child will appreciate it. But if you can't go, you might like to ask another adult in your child's life to go instead and take some photos. You and your child can look at these photos together and talk about the event.

Children with additional needs

Meet with the principal before school begins to discuss your child's needs. The school will look for ways to accommodate these needs.

Here are some issues you could think about and discuss with the principal:

  • What experience does the school have with children with additional needs similar to your child's?
  • Does your child qualify for funding, and what do you need to do to apply for this?
  • What are the class sizes, and how many children are in the playground at break times?
  • How can the curriculum be modified to suit your child?
  • How will your child be included in activities in the classroom and the playground?
  • How can the school support your child to take part in activities where he might need additional support?
  • Is the supervision and security that the school provides appropriate for your child?
  • How can the school support your child's social interactions with other children?
You can read more about school for children with disability and school for children with autism spectrum disorder.

Communication between school and parents

Your child's education is a responsibility shared between you and your child's school. Good communication between school and home will really improve your child's experience.

There are lots of formal ways to make contact with the school, including:

  • parent-teacher interviews
  • information evenings
  • newsletters
  • notices.

But you can also pop in for a quick chat with your child's teacher before or after school. It's best to check that the teacher is free first or ask the teacher to suggest a good time to talk.

Children can get upset if they're late for an excursion or event, so it's a good idea to check your child's bag for notes each day. Many schools have an online noticeboard, Facebook page or app with newsletters and information about events, excursions and other school activities.

Let your school know if your child needs special attention at any time - for example, if there have been problems at home or a death in the family, or she has been sick. Likewise, if she has just won a competition or done well at karate, let the school know so they can encourage her.