The back to school countdown calendar EVERY parent needs

The back to school countdown EVERY parent needs: From a practice school run to getting early nights, the tasks you should tackle each week of the holidays to be ready for a new term

  • With a month to go, it is already time to start thinking about the start of school
  • Parenting experts and teachers revealed the tasks you should tackle each week  
  • Suggest establishing a bedtime routine in the final week before term starts

There is still a month left of the summer holidays but parents should already be thinking about preparing their children for going back to school, experts revealed.

But the long list of ‘to-dos’ mean it can be difficult to know where to start. 

Fortunately a child psychologist and a team of teachers from a London independent school have divided the dizzying array of tasks into a four-week ‘countdown calendar’ that parents can tick off week by week. 

So whether you’re worried about meal prep or having nightmares over the school run, read on to put an end to your back to school worries – and get ready to enjoy the rest of the summer with your family…  

Beat the back to school rush! Experts have revealed the tasks to tick off each week over the next month to get your children ready for the start of term. Stock image 


Arrange a playdate

‘Arrange a playdate with your children and their friends,’ said Paul Cozens, Head of Junior School at St Dunstan’s College, London. 

‘It’s important for children to enjoy their summer holiday, so arranging playdates is perfect for this and allows them to get to know their classmates better.’

Switch off and get outside 

Clinical child psychologist Elizabeth Kilbey said: ‘Encourage your children to spend as much time as possible outdoors. New research from Elastoplast reveals that a child in the UK spends on average nine hours outside per week – that’s 12 hours less than the recommended amount and three hours less than parents spent outside as children. 

‘Even better, spend time outside as a family, as a generation we forget the importance and benefits of outdoor childhood games for both children and parents. 

‘Basically at this point during the school holidays children really should be simply switching off from school and enjoying themselves.’


Introduce a new hobby

‘Teaching children something new can be a great activity for the summer holiday,’ said Isabelle Blake-James Director of Admissions at St Dunstan’s College. 

‘This may be learning some new words in another language, learning how to use a camera or learning how to touch type.’ 

Make a plan for after school clubs 

Slowly turn your child’s attention towards the start of the school year – beginning with the after-school clubs they enjoy, or might want to start.  

‘Talk to your children gently about what they might want to do next year, in terms of afterschool clubs and co-curricular activities,’ said Laura Whitwood, Junior School Deputy Head Pastoral at St Dunstan’s College ‘This can be done around the dinner table.’

With one week to go, experts recommend trying a practice school run. Stock image


Double check the stationery

‘It is important students in senior school have all the stationery required,’ said Emma Latham, director of studies at St Dunstan’s College, London. 

‘Check the school’s handbook or checklist, and make time as a family to go out and buy the stationery. It can be a fun activity letting your child choose their pencil case.’

Set up a ‘school prep pad’  

Elizabeth Kilbey said: ‘I recommend setting up “school prep pad”; a space near your front door or in your hallway, which will contain everything your child needs for school. 

‘You can make it fun by getting your child to design signs and a calendar of their school schedule to pop on the wall – make it a bit of a arts and crafts session.’ 


Establish a sleep routine

Laura Whitwood said: ‘Try to get your children’s sleeping pattern back to normal. This means they won’t be tired during their first week back at school.’

Plan packed lunches 

‘If your child has a packed lunch, I would also recommend starting to plan meals for your child to avoid tantrums, get them to pick their 5 favourite packed lunches and rotate each week,’ Elizabeth Kilbey said.

‘The main aim of this week is to try and get your child excited about going back to school and focusing on the positives. Now is the time to start talking about how the before and after school routine is going to work. 

‘Maybe draw up a before school checklist for them – getting uniform on, eating breakfast, brush teeth, get bag and water bottle ready. It sounds obvious to us, but by giving children a clear visual list it really helps things run smoothly in the morning and enables them to take some responsibility for themselves.’

Practise the school run  

‘Do a practice run for the school journey, whether it be by bus or train or whatever mode of transport will be used,’ said Isabelle Blake-James. ‘This will help prepare for going back to school.’ 

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