Back to school

Back to School: 5 Essentials to Kick Off the New Academic Year


1. Essential 1: Get started with the correct equipment

2. Essential 2: Shop efficiently for school uniforms

3. Essential 3: Prepare for change by switching mindsets

4. Essential 4: Provide priceless support

5. Essential 5: Stay organised and healthy (this one’s for parents!)

Whether the start of term in September has snuck up on you or you’ve been counting down the days of the summer holidays, it can be a challenge to get everyone ready to go back to school. Here at GoStudent, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of essentials to help get your mind and body in gear for the start of the school year.💫

From advice on practical things like school supplies and uniforms to ways to curb school anxiety, we’ve covered the most useful things to consider. The start of a new school year is full of opportunity and promise, and we’re here to set you up for a smooth start.⛵

Nothing says ‘back-to-school’ like new stationery. Stocking up on school supplies is a way of building excitement about the new school year and letting kids express themselves through their choice of pencil case. If, like many families, you’re on a budget, check out large supermarkets and discount stores for a great range of stationery at affordable prices.✏️🌈

Essential 1: Get started with the correct equipment

Many primary schools provide students with everything they need, but your child may prefer to take their own school supplies. A typical shopping list for essential stationery items for younger children will include:

  • Pens 
  • Pencils
  • Notebooks 
  • Ruler
  • Rubber
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Bookbag/backpack 
  • Pencil case
  • Glue sticks
  • Coloured pencils/pens

For secondary school students, you may also want to add:

  • Highlighters
  • Folders
  • Correction fluid/tape
  • Maths set (containing a compass, protractor and set square)
  • Scientific calculator
  • USB drive
  • Post-it notes

While you’re at it, don’t forget to pop these other essential non-stationery items in their bag:

  • Lunch box
  • Water bottle
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Tissues

Once they’re kitted out with all they need to crack on with their schoolwork, you can tick it off your to-do list and move onto the next thing!🎒👍

Essential 2: Shop efficiently for school uniforms

You can encourage your child to turn their mind to the start of the school year by helping them get their uniform ready. Giving children choices wherever possible can help them feel empowered. If your child’s school has multiple uniform options, why not let them take the lead and pick out what they want to wear? You can start at home and involve them in the process by making a list of what they’ll need for the new school year.🗒️

A good basic back-to-school wardrobe should include:

  • 4-5 shirts or polo-shirts
  • 1-2 jumpers/sweatshirts
  • 2 pairs of trousers
  • 2 skirt or pinafores
  • 4-5 pairs of socks or tights
  • A pair of school shoes
  • A light waterproof coat/jacket
  • Hair bands and clips for longer hair
  • A winter coat 
  • A warm hat, scarf and gloves 

These items can be bought in Spring ready for the summer term:

  • 1-2 pairs shorts 
  • 2-3 summer dresses 
  • A summer hat 

Some schools also require students to have these:

  • A school tie
  • A blazer or fleece

With sports being an essential part of any curriculum - don’t forget your PE kit. Your child’s PE kit should include:

  • trainers
  • 1 pair of shorts or jogging bottoms
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 1 pair of socks (don’t forget these if your child wears tights!)
  • PE bag
  • swimming costume and goggles (if required)
  • Light towel (if required)

Next, dust off your tape measure and have a fun measuring session to your child’s favourite music (dance breaks optional). You can even regale them with tales of your own school uniform if you had one. Keep their measurements in mind as you shop but don’t forget to allow room for growth - you don’t want them bursting out of their new school uniform by Christmas!🌱📏

Getting your kids suited and booted for school can be costly. Shopping in supermarkets or online (be sure to check out second hand uniform sites) is a good way to save money. If you go shopping with your child, limit it to a couple of shops to avoid boredom. Make it a celebratory event rather than a chore by adding on a small treat like a milkshake or an ice cream.🍧

Essential 3: Prepare for change by switching mindsets

Help them manage change

Change can be terrifying, whether it’s a new job or a new school year - so don’t underestimate the impact it can have. Think of the uncertainty and self-doubt that can hover over you on your first day in a new job. It’s no different for students - there are learning expectations, friendships to navigate, new teachers/classrooms/subjects, not to mention the general angst of growing up. 

Your child may be able to express their feelings about these changes, but they can also be hard to put into words. You can boost your child’s confidence in handling change by reminding them of all the different changes they’ve managed so far in their lives. Remind them that their feelings are both natural and valid, regardless of whether they’re feeling unsure, scared, or excited.💓

Establish your new routine together

Switching from summer holiday mode to school mode can mean a new routine. Help your child adapt to the start of a new school year by discussing their routine

We’ve got three top tips to help you get started:

  1. Talk about what time they’ll need to get up in order to get ready for school. 
  2. Discuss the best time for them to complete homework, factoring in clubs or after-school activities. 
  3. Use a wall planner to help everyone visualise what’s happening each week. 

Knowing what’s expected as well as what’s coming can be helpful for everyone involved. Building a new routine together can help you hit the ground running as the kids go back to school.🛣️

Encourage openness

No two children are the same. Some will be bursting to get back into school while others will be dragging their heels. If your child’s the latter sort of student, make the space for them to express any worries in a calm, neutral environment. Take them for a walk or to a place you know they feel relaxed and comfortable and talk about things that may be causing back-to-school anxiety. Be sure to listen and let them take their time to verbalise their thoughts.💬

Essential 4: Provide priceless support

Talk about friendships

Your child’s circle of friends will have a big impact on how they see themselves. Make time to discuss what friendship means to them. Talk about what they’re looking for in a good friend and how to be a good friend. Talking openly about friendships can help set your kids up for success when figuring out their own identities and navigating tricky social situations at school.🙌

It’s important that kids know that they can’t please everyone, and that there will always be other students or teachers that they don’t get along with. Help them to understand that they can be polite and respectful to others, regardless of whether they’re best buds or not. Equally, no-one else has the right to hurt or embarrass them, regardless of whether they’re friends or not.🙅🏼‍♀️

Provide support in the face of school anxiety

Back-to-school anxiety can take many forms, from slight changes in body language to angry outbursts. Students who are anxious about school can display avoidant behaviour, which can lead to them missing school - so here are a few ways to support them.

  1. Help your child to become familiar with their new school or classroom by taking them to visit it or reading stories about school. With younger kids, you can provide practise through play and act out different parts of the school day such as packing their bags or asking the teacher a question.❓
  2. Encourage your child to set attainable goals to help them get settled. Start by identifying the things they already feel comfortable doing in school and then think about what they can do next. For example, if you’ve previously walked your child all the way to their classroom then ‘I can walk by myself from my classroom door into class’ could progress to ‘I can walk by myself from the school gate all the way to my classroom.’🥅🎉
  3. Recognising what helps your child stay calm is a great way to curb anxiety. You could do relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, find quiet mindful activities or practise affirming statements like ‘It’s okay to feel worried. I know my teachers are here to help me if I need them.’ A special item from home could also provide comfort at school.🦄
  4. The school day can be long for kids. When they get home, they may need to wind down, recover from sensory overload or release pent-up emotions. Give them the freedom and support to let it all out and process things at home where they feel safest.🌊
  5. If your child is showing significant signs of anxiety and it’s affecting their sleep, eating habits, ability to socialise or they’re experiencing ongoing distress, they may need further help to protect their wellbeing and safety. Ask your GP for advice about accessing the relevant support, they should be able to refer you to the appropriate services.⛅

Essential 5: Stay organised and healthy (this one’s for parents!)

Update your calendar

It’s easy to spend heaps of time getting the kids organised and forget about your own schedule. 

Make sure you’ve got all the relevant school dates in your calendar - starting with the first day of school! Be sure to check INSET dates carefully with your child’s school and never presume that they're the same as other schools in your area.📆

Build in time for healthy habits

Your kids learn more from their parents than anyone else in their world. Modelling self-care through exercise, a healthy diet and finding time and techniques for relaxation can help you and them. By setting a positive example, you can show them the importance of looking after yourself. All parents are busy parents, so it’s important to carve out time for your own healthy habits.

One mum that knows a lot about kicking off the academic year the right way is Denise Van Outen, our favourite celebrity mum who has recently teamed up with GoStudent with her daughter Betsy to unlock her full potential.

Watch our full video with Denise here.


Whether your child’s heading for their first day of school or about to start their final year, the beginning of a new school year marks the start of new adventures, big and small. If you think your child might need a little extra support along the way, then why not book a free trial with one of our expert tutors.🚀