It can be a bit overwhelming to send your child off to school for the first time. It’s a whole new dimension that often takes parents by surprise… not to forget the added task of packing lunches! It’s also an emotional time as big school seemed so far away when they were born.
A few tips and hints
In the first few weeks at big school, your child will sometimes eat more than they usually would. Teachers are often very accommodating in allowing them to adjust and they often give them longer to eat. After the first few weeks of settling in they will start to cut back the time and allow them to go out and play sooner and you’ll find bits of food still left in the lunch box. If you find your child is coming home with a full lunch box, something is amiss here. Definitely bring it up with your child’s teacher so they can keep an eye on them. Also make sure you’re packing food they like so they're at least eating something.
A little tip - On wet weather days I have found they also eat more because they’re inside so I always make sure I pack extra on these days too.
Eating fruit is a big part of school with schools stopping to have a fruit break. It’s called many different names around the country – crunch and sip, munch and crunch, fruit, tuity fruity, munch and move, brain food, fruito, snack attack and many, many more. It’s a great initiative to get kids to eat fruit and drink water. If your child is starting school soon and not eating fruit, it might be a good opportunity to slowly try and introduce a fresh piece of fruit in to their diet (if you can!).
In the lead up to big school, I strongly recommend serving them lunch in their lunch box so they get used to it. This is a great practice run for you both. Little fingers need to get used to opening and closing their lunch boxes and cooler bag and working out how their drink bottle works. If you’re going to wrap their food in plastic wrap or send packaged food, make sure they can undo it.
So what are the must haves? I’d start with a lunch box. We absolutely love our bento lunch boxes as there is no packaging, no plastic wrap required and kids love picking through it. We began our journey with our bento boxes when our son was in his first year at school. About half way through the year I got cranky with the amount of lunch boxes we were going through because they kept breaking and they weren’t keeping the lunches fresh. They were to put it bluntly, crap. We purchased a Yumbox and three years later we are still using them! Yes they cost more up front but they are certainly way cheaper in the long run and kids absolutely love them! There is just something about the way the food is displayed that makes them very appealing.
After lunch boxes, drink bottles would be the next essential. What size should you get? What design is best? In my experience, this one’s going to come down to what you and your kids like? I personally will go a drink bottle with a straw for my school starter. I find it’s easier for them to drink from and it won’t spill in their bag if you get one that is a no-spill (like the Camelbak Eddy). As for size, it’s good to make sure it fits in their school bag. I wouldn’t get a drink bottle that was less then 400ml and I wouldn’t send a 1L drink bottle with a little one either. Bigger kids, yes, but not for 4 or 5 year olds, it would be heavy in their bag.
Living in Australia it can become super hot, especially when school goes back. I do recommend an insulated lunch bag that will keep their food cold for the majority of the day. We use Fridge-To-Go’s. They keep food cold for up to 8 hours and they last. My son has been using his since he started school and he is now in year 3.
There are many other accessories you can use for lunches like sandwich cutters and food picks to mention a few but these are the essentials that will get you started on your journey. We’ll leave the others for another blog post.
Check out my list below of other items you will need to start school with.
Starting School Checklist:
Insulated Lunch Bag
School Jumper (it always rains in February, I was caught out!)
School coloured bike shorts for the girls under their dresses (Best and Less/Kmart sell these)
School coloured hair accessories (I seriously love collecting these)
Plastic Document Wallet for notes/homework/home readers
Please note that Kindy is the first year of big school in NSW, it might be known as Prep in your State.