Tag Archives: Back to school

Six Children’s Books About Starting School

In England, the start of the school year is just a few short days away. It’s a time of year I have very mixed feelings about. I’ll be glad for my son to be back with his friends and in more of a routine, but I’ll also miss spending time with him and having him to myself. I remember when he started school and how nervous he was and how much more nervous I was. It’s a huge landmark in a child’s life and it does need preparing for. With that in mind, I’ve picked out six children’s books about starting school, which might help smooth the transition!

Six Children’s Books About Starting School

Charlie and Lola: I Am Too Absolutely Small For School by Lauren Child. I adore Charlie and Lola, the Charlie and Lola books are relatable and fun to read. This classic picture book is all about starting school and all the worries children might have about that.

Lola says, “I am absolutely not BIG. I am still really quite small. I probably do not have time to go to school. I am too extremely busy doing important things at home.”

Which is the kind of thing my son says about going to school too!

Six Children's Books About Starting School

My First Day by Leilani Sparrow is a lovely rhyming book for children getting ready for their first day at school. Each page covers what might happen on their first day, such as a making new friends, having a snack and maybe falling over. The illustrations are lovely and the rhymes are simple too. It’s a lovely book for little ones nearing their big day!

Topsy and Tim Start School by Jean Adamson. Topsy and Tim Start School is a lovely, reassuring picture book for children who are just about to start school. Topsy and Tim learn what to expect in lessons and in the playground. They find out all about school dinners and that school can be lots of fun too! I remember reading Topsy and Tim books when I was little and it’s so lovely to be able to sit and read them with my son too.

Do I Have to Go to School? A First Look at Starting School by Pat Thomas. Do I have to go to school is a beautifully illustrated picture book for children who are starting school for the first time. Going to school can be a huge change for young children, this book encourages children to discover the joy of learning new things, meeting new people and having new experiences. Written by a psychologist, this is a really helpful book for those who might be nervous about their first day.

I’m Going to School by Chris Dickason is a great little activity book to help children prepare for starting school. There are lots of colouring in pages, places to stick pictures and lots of scope to discuss what happens at school. It’s a good book to work on over the first few weeks of school too.

Starting School by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg. From first day nerves to finding your peg, this reassuring read is full of good humour and fun for children and parents alike. This classic picture book offers advice and enjoyment for the whole family before school starts, all in a lovely Ahlberg style which children and adults both love. It’s such a good book, you wont just be reading it at the start of term!

Good luck for the new school year!

Six Children's Books About Starting School

Giveaway & Review: Petit Ferdinand Customised Labels

Since my son started school four years ago, I’ve lost count of the number of hours I’ve lost rummaging through the school lost property box. One week he managed to lose three jumpers! The school are generally pretty good; as long as things are clearly labelled, they usually end up finding their way back home.

Four years ago I invested in some sew on labels. This was a big mistake, having to sit and sew on labels on all his polo shirts, jumpers, trousers, PE kit and coats took far longer than I anticipated; but I soon discovered iron on labels and better still, stick on labels. These are complete game changers and save hours and hours of my time every year.

Review: Petit Ferdinand Customised Labels

My latest batch of name labels have come from Petit Ferdinand and I opted for the £30 value pack which includes; 20 stick-on clothing name labels, 20 iron-on clothing name labels, 40 stick-on item name labels, 10 stick-on shoe labels, 30 stick-on item name labels and 20 stick-on item name labels. That’s 140 name labels in total.

You can customise your labels with different colours, fonts and images; which all help them to stand out in a pile of lost property. The value pack comes in a booklet which keeps them all together. There are simple instructions on how to apply them and make them stick to clothes, shoes or bits of kit like water bottles.

Review: Petit Ferdinand Customised Labels

They’re easy to use and really help my son spot his jumper in a pile of identical school jumpers. This pack from Petit Ferdinand will last us at least two years and I think they’re excellent value.

I’ve moved on from the dark days of those dreadful sew on labels. I absolutely refuse to go back to laboriously sewing them into clothes; stick-on name labels are the future and for £30 for 140 name labels you can’t really go wrong.

Review: Petit Ferdinand Customised Labels

For more information about Petit Ferdinand, or to order some name labels, visit their website.

Win name labels from Petit Ferdinand worth £30

To be in with a chance to win back to school name labels from Petit Ferdinand worth £30, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

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Terms & Conditions:
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3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will win a £30 value pack of personalised name labels from Petit Ferdinand.
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7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
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Disclaimer: I was sent a value pack of Petit Ferdinand name labels for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

Treads School Shoes – Are they indestructible?

I’m not sure what my 7 year old son does with his school shoes. Within a day or two of wearing them, they are usually scuffed and fraying. I constantly despair that I spend around £50 a time on something which within 48 hours of first wear look like they’ve been run over by a truck. Treads are a new kind of shoe. They come with a one year guarantee and are said to be indestructible. But can they cope with the treatment my son routinely dishes out to his footwear?

We chose the Madrid style, which is the style of show he usually wears for school. They have velcro straps to fasten them and are comfortable, trainer style shoes, but smart enough to pass a uniform inspection. They are £45 (but are currently just £35 – a bargain!).

Treads School Shoes - Are they indestructible?

These Madrid school shoes are designed for active children. They’re made with soft permair leather and the tough, durable sole is moulded to the upper, so no glue. They have reinforced heels, reinforced seams, they’re scuff proof and have a shock absorbing insole. They appear to be very well-made. My son tends to wear the toes of his shoes quicker than anything else, so it was good to see that the toe area has been reinforced.

Treads School Shoes - Are they indestructible?

These school shoes are fitted with ‘dual fit’ technology which means there is a padded and shaped insole inside which you can remove if you need a wider fit for the shoe. I think this is a great idea, I know the width of my son’s feet seems to change each time we get him measured.

Treads School Shoes - Are they indestructible?

Treads currently have eight different styles of shoe to choose from and the Madrid style we have chosen are perfect for my son. They’re easy to get on and have the easy velcro strap fastener, so he can have them on and be off running within a moment.

The Treads school shoes arrived during the Easter holidays; so although he’s not worn them to school yet, he has worn them for several days to break them in. He’s worn them to an adventure playground and to a local farm; so I feel he’s given them a good work out.

He’s told me that they’re very comfortable, or in his words “like my slippers”. The soles have really good grips and he’s walked over slippy surfaces at the farm in them with no problems. The adventure playground was full of things he could and should have scuffed them on; but apart from some mud splatters they look as good as new.

I am absolutely delighted with them. We’ve tried rough, tough “indestructible” shoes before from leading brands; but they’ve all come home after a few days looking battered and bruised. I have incredibly high hopes for these Treads school shoes. I think, I really really do think these might actually be genuinely indestructible. Even if they’re not, they do have a one year guarantee.

There are several different styles of school shoes on the Treads website, with a girls range planned for next year. If your children have a habit of destroying their school shoes; then I’d say it was well worth having a look at TREADS to see if they are the answer.

Treads School Shoes - Are they indestructible?

Disclosure: We were sent a pair of Treads school shoes for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Back to School with Debenhams School Uniform

The small boy, who these days is not so small, starts Year 2 in just under a fortnight (where has the time gone etc etc). He needs new school uniform, but the thought of spending hours of our precious summer together trawling through various shops buying various bits of uniform and kit fills me with horror. Better to buy it all, or almost all in the same place at the same time. Last week we popped to Debenhams and did just that.

If I was fancy I’d talk about our Debenhams School Uniform “haul”, but I’m old-fashioned for that. Instead we just went shopping and bought a big bag of school uniform. Hopefully enough to see him through until his next growth spurt. Debenhams School Uniforms are currently 20% off in store and online, something we took full advantage of.

Back to School with Debenhams School Uniform

This will be his fourth “school year” (School Nursery, Reception, Year 1 etc) so this is not our first time at the school uniform rodeo. We know what he likes and what he doesn’t like.

We bought a new warm padded school coat (£18), 6 pristine white polo shirts (£5.60 for a pack of two), 2 pairs of slim fit trousers (£8.80), 2 pairs of flat fronted trousers (£9) and 10 new pairs of grey socks (£4 per pack of 5 pairs). All we need are a couple of jumpers with the school logo on and we are ready for the start of the year. Our shopping trip cost us just under £63, that’s including the 20% off!

I was really pleased to find some nice slim fit trousers. I always think the flat fronted ones make him look like a junior accountant, so we bought some slim fit to try out. Like most children, he is very hard on the knees of his trousers. If he’s not falling over and grazing his knees, he’s crawling along being a ninja superhero or something.

Back to School with Debenhams School Uniform

He’s six and whilst he’s grasped the rudimentaries of getting himself dressed. If he’s rushing he can still get frustrated with fiddly buttons on trousers, especially if he’s getting himself changed for PE or nipping to the loo. We like to adjust the waistband on his trousers so they’re loose enough to just pull them up in a rush if he needs to, but not loose enough to fall down, obviously. Both the flat front and slim fit styles we chose have adjustable waistbands. Phew.

He is also very hard on the white polo shirts he has to wear for school. I’m enjoying them now in their pristine white state before term starts. His polo shirts get washed to death. We like to buy enough so he has a clean one each day and a couple of spares waiting to be brought into circulation once he starts destroying them.

We have tended to buy cheap supermarket polo shirts which often shrink in the wash a bit. I’m hopeful these will stand up to regular washing a bit better than their supermarket counterparts. They do feel like they’re a cut above in terms of quality and doesn’t he look smart (and clean)!

Back to School with Debenhams School Uniform

As for his new coat, it’s light to carry and nicely padded for the winter months. With an easy zip up the front and zipped pockets so his treasures won’t fall out. He’s thrilled with it and at £18 we have no complaints either.

We have high hopes that our “haul” of Debenhams school uniform will last the year; or until he grows out of it. I am impressed with the price and quality. Everything seems well designed with sturdy stitching and made from good quality material. Even the socks are thicker, stretchier and more comfortable than the cheap supermarket ones I’ve made him wear.

If I have one regret, it’s not buying more polo shirts, another couple of packets couldn’t hurt, could it?

Debenhams currently have 20% off school uniform online and in-store now. Visit their website to have a look at their range.

Back to School with Debenhams School Uniform

Note: This post is in collaboration with Debenhams as part of their Back to School Campaign. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: Trutex School Uniform

If I utter the words “school uniform” and “boys” in the company of the parents of boys a collective sign of despair goes around. The small boy (aged 5) came home on his last day before February half term with a hole in the knee of his trousers, the sole hanging comically off his new (bought at Christmas) school shoes, a white polo shirt that was now grey and covered in felt tip and a too-small school jumper. All of his uniform was beyond saving, so it all went in the bin. 

We were sent a few new items from Trutex for him to put to the test. His school uniform is a smart and quite forgiving navy with black or grey trousers. Trutex sent us…

  • a navy crew neck sweatshirt
  • a pair of junior sturdy fit trousers
  • a navy polar fleece

Trutex School Uniform

As you can see he looks pretty happy with his new uniform. He certainly looked very smart and he loved his new school fleece. 

The trousers we chose were sturdy fit with an elasticated back, he’s still at the age where he’s pulling trousers on like jogging bottoms, so these seemed the best option. He’s a tall boy for his age and has just had a growth spurt, so these should hopefully see him through to the summer and hopefully beyond. The fabric is thick and good quality, and the seams have been well stitched, they seem like they’d be able to withstand the rough and tumble of the playground.

The crew neck jumper is cosy with good stitching, and at size 5/6 long enough for my long boy to still have room to grow into. It fits well and is easy for him to pull on and off by himself.

Trutex School Uniform

The polar fleece jacket is his favourite new thing, ultra cosy and it fits him really well. He likes the zippy pockets where he can keep his treasures safe and sound. And it fits snugly under his waterproof jacket, so when it’s wet he can still be warm. As we move into spring and towards summer he will wear this jacket more and more, it’s very roomy without looking ginormous, so I’m confident that it’ll last him a good long while, and fleece washed beautifully too, so if he gets it mucky it’s no problem.

Our new Trutex School Uniform items appear to be very good quality, and importantly they operate an ethical trading policy, ensuring that their school uniform items are made ethically, so no child labour, no long working hours, no sweatshops are involved. I try not to think too hard sometimes about the realities of how some of our clothes are produced, but knowing that these are ethically traded does make me feel very positively about them.

Keeping a five year old boy looking reasonably smart and respectable in his school uniform can feel like an uphill battle, buying better quality, hard-wearing, easy care uniform makes a big difference. We’re very happy with this Trutex school uniform, it’s nice to see him looking both smart and adorable!

Visit the Trutex website to find your nearest stockist of Trutex school uniform.

Note: We were sent these items of Trutex school uniform for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Milestones: His first day of school

Today was one of those milestone days in my son’s life. Today he trotted off to join his Reception class and start his school days properly. Last year he was lucky enough to get a place in the school nursery, but there was no guarantee of an actual school place, so he’s already been going to the school part time for a year now. He knows some of the ropes, most of the staff and has been settled and happy there, which is all a parent could ask for.

Despite the fact he was already fairly established within the school, there were a few “first day of school” anxieties, mainly from me and his dad. He was just looking forward to seeing all of his friends again and being with his new teacher who he’d met a few times last term.

We’d had a busy summer and we’d spent lots of quality time together and cemented a new kind of friendship between us. I’ve seen him through other people’s eyes and realised what a kind, funny and well-mannered little lad he is. It’s so easy to get bogged down in petty squabbles about where he’d thrown his underpants and forget about all the really good things about him.

This morning arrived too soon. Collectively the three of us tumbled down the stairs towards the front door, perpetually running slightly late, frantically pulling on shoes and coats. Checking and double checking the contents of our bags. Cartwheeling out of the door and galloping off to the school gates. Late, always late.

But today we paused, because it was our son’s first day at school. First proper day at school. We took the obligatory photo of him in his new, clean uniform stood in front of the house, we didn’t expect him to smile, we didn’t really expect him to pose. But what we got tells us everything we needed to know about his feelings about his first day at school. I think he’s happy, don’t you?

first day of school

first day of school

And if you’re wondering how he got on, he emerged at home time with a huge smile on his face and can’t wait to go back tomorrow. Long may that continue!

Buckle up! The small boy tries out velcro Easybelts

The small boy is four and a half (he’s very keen on that half all of a sudden) and he’s very much like his dad. He’s starting to dress like him and when we go shopping points out things his dad would wear so he can wear them too. It’s all very sweet and part of growing up. This summer he’s fully embraced the belt – his dad is never without his belt, so the boy wanted something similar. His little fingers aren’t ready for a proper grown up belt, so we got him an easy to use velcro Easybelt.

velcro easybelts

We chose this lovely blue belt, it’s in the school colours so he can wear it for school if he wants, but it also looks brilliant with his normal casual trousers.

The velcro Easybelts are so easy to use. You just put them through the belt loops on your trousers and pull the velcro end back and press against the other velcro bit. There are no fiddly buckles or anything to mess about with. He understood how it worked instantly, had no problems undoing it by himself and could take himself off to the loo quite happily and without our help.

velcro easybelts

As you can see (Manchester’s next top model) he was pretty proud of his belt, which I think looks great with those shorts. He’s also worn it with jeans and other trousers and he cuts quite a dash. The belt somehow makes him look smarter and more grown up at the same time.

Easybelts have a huge range of belts for children, with different designs and motifs for boys and girls as well as unisex options. They also make belts for adults who may struggle with the tricky fastenings of normal belts (seriously, those canvas belts with the funny buckle – I have no chance!).

The velcro Easybelts cost around £6 and are easily washed and easy to use. The small boy is a big fan!

Note: We were sent the Easybelt free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Small boy goes to big school

Today we dressed the boy up in all of his uniform finery and walked him to big school. We recognised and chatted to a few parents in the playground, took him in, showed him where everything was, watched him settle in and we said goodbye.

He’s a good lad. An independent soul. I asked him if he wanted me to stay and he did, but only for a few minutes while he familiarised himself with his surroundings. He played with the train set, he tried on a few things from the dressing up box, then finally settled down at the computer with two boys he already knew. He ignored me for a bit, so I decided it was time to go. It wasn’t difficult. No one cried, he didn’t cling to my leg, he just got on with it.

“Bye Benj!” I called, he gave me a cursory wave goodbye and went back to banging the keyboard with his fist. So I left and went to the coffee shop round the corner, my phone in my hand just in case. I met my friend there, a woman in the same boat as me. I drank coffee, my phone didn’t ring, I still had hours before I picked him up again, so I went home. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, so I just hung around the house looking at the clock.

The hour came for me to pick him up. I queued up outside his classroom, my face pressed against the glass as I watched him picking his nose and sitting quietly with the rest of the class. He caught me looking and flashed me one of his 1000 watt smiles, then went back to exploring his facial orifices with his fingers and listening to his teacher.

He was first to escape, seemed pleased to see me, gave my legs a quick hug and we went outside. I asked about his morning, apparently he’d played with the trains. I think experienced CIA operatives would struggle to get any additional details out of him. We went to our local toy shop and added to his train collection (you’re sensing a train theme here aren’t you?), then off to meet his Nan for lunch and tell her about his morning. Nope she didn’t get any more out of him than I did, but she said about a million times how grown up he looked, then got all misty eyed.

And tomorrow we’ll do it all again. The small boy goes to big school now. And so it begins.

First day of school

PS – this picture was taken on his first morning, it’s the best we could do, he had a roll around on the floor tantrum just after this was taken, he’s rarely a reluctant model, but it made me smile, a lot. I put the picture on Facebook alongside the smiling pictures of the children of my friends, someone commented that it was their favourite first day of school picture ever. It made me chuckle.

Goodbye Nursery

Just two weeks shy of his first birthday I returned to work and the small boy started at nursery. First in woddlers, then toddlers and he’s now in pre-school. Today is his last day, as I type this it’s his last hour there. Next week he’s moving onwards and upwards to the nursery at primary school.

Uniform has been bought, labelled, tried on and modelled. All we talk about is big school and the friends he already has in his class there. He’ll be fine, it’ll be the making of him. We’re all forward looking and we’ve barely looked back at the past (almost) three years.

Looking back, without the stability, input and love he had at nursery he would be much worse off socially and academically. During the year (ish) I was largely unable to parent him, they stepped in educated and entertained him for three days a week. They fed him, looked after him, loved him and took him out to explore the world.

Don’t get me wrong, when he first started I was, as is traditional, utterly heartbroken at leaving my baby with them, but he’s thrived under their care. When his hearing (now fixed) was holding back his development, they worked hard with us to adapt his time there so he wouldn’t fall too far behind, and he didn’t, he’s now running with the pack and you’d not know any different.

I have no regrets about sending him to nursery, other than I’d prefer that I’d had that time with him, but it was absolutely for the best, and for me wanting to keep him at home would’ve been selfish of me. We’re trying to raise a happy, independent chap and he is that. He’s full of spirit, he’s funny, lively, lovely and clever.

I hope that his new big school will recognise his character, understand his strengths, nurture his weaker areas and help him to be the best that he can be. I know that as a family we’ll look back at his time at nursery very fondly, I hope he remembers all the fun he had there, the friends he made and all the clothes he ruined during craft time.

Goodbye nursery, it’s been a blast!

Top Tips to make your school uniform last

A schoolwear specialist has put together a series of tips to help parents get maximum value from school uniform.

Carolyn Budding is a Director at YourSchoolUniform.com and has assembled 10 top tips for making the most of school clothes.

She said: “As a retailer and a manufacturer of school uniform we understand exactly what is required from these garments over the course of a school year.

“Our own-branded products, under the name Hubaco, are carefully designed so we can say with confidence that they are both comfortable and durable.

“We offer a range of different school uniform items for every household budget and because we understand parents have concerns about the cost of uniform, we have put together our 10 top tips to help it last longer.”

make your school uniform last

1- Right first time: “Buying cheap can mean buying twice,” says Carolyn. “Work out which items you can afford to spend a bit more on and avoid paying again further down the road.”

2- Size it up: “Children’s growth can be steady over a period of weeks, or sometimes they seem to get taller overnight,” Carolyn explains. “It is a good idea to use a size guide rather than choose clothes by age. The age guides in some uniform items tend to be based on height alone, which doesn’t take into account children’s body shapes.”

3- Room to spare: “If you want to buy uniform which will last, make sure you leave some growing room,” says Carolyn. “Look out for trousers and skirts with adjustable waists and if you’re handy with a needle – or can use iron-on webbing – buy them too long so you can turn-up the hem and then let it down again as they grow.”

4- True colours: “If the school allows different colour options always go for the darker shade,” Carolyn warns. “Spills, stains and marks are much more visible on lighter coloured clothing.”

5- Cover-up: “One of the easiest and simplest tricks to help extend the life of school uniform is simply to cover it up,” suggests Carolyn. “Aprons, tabards and wipe-clean smocks are ideal for protecting clothes while children tackle practical lessons – we even offer a lab coat for youngsters to help make sure their uniform doesn’t suffer while they conduct experiments.”

6- All white: “To get rid of mud stains on white shirts and t-shirts, soak in a solution of water and bicarbonate of soda before washing,” says Carolyn. “And remember – the quicker a stain is dealt with, the easier it is to shift.”

7- Fade to black: “Turn dark coloured clothing inside out before washing and store away from direct sunlight to combat fading,” says Carolyn. “Darks are best washed in cold water and dried inside. Purple in particular reacts to UV light, so drying away from bright sunshine will keep the colour better for longer.”

8- Pen and ink: “Biro and ink stains are fairly common with schoolchildren,” adds Carolyn. “A handy trick is to soak a biro stain in milk before washing. Not many children use fountain pens any more, but ink stains can be removed by covering with hairspray and then blotting with a paper towel.”

9- Iron out: “Your iron can be a great tool in preserving the life of your children’s uniform,” says Carolyn. “Iron-on patches are an easy way to make small repairs, while special webbing can be used to shorten hems using your iron. Iron-in naming labels are a popular method of making sure every item has your child’s name on.”

10- Keep it clean: “Easy-care fabrics and Teflon coatings are great for busy parents,” says Carolyn. “Teflon helps prevent stains while the easy-care fabrics tend to require less rigorous washing and ironing. It’s also best to hang clothes on hangers or fold them neatly to help keep them in good condition. Lots of children think their bedroom floor is the ultimate storage solution, but looking after their uniform will make it last longer.”

For more information visit www.yourschooluniform.com

Published in association with YourSchoolUniform.com