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  • Writer's pictureSheree Hoddinett

Pencils, Paper, Bags & Shoes: It's Back to School Time!

The festive season is now behind us and in a few short weeks, the kids will be back at school. Yay! With that thought in mind, it’s time to start getting ready for their return to the classroom. For some, this may be your first time with a child at school. It’s new, different and possibly even confusing. Whether it’s your first time or your fifth time, you’re probably wondering how or where you even start to tackle the mountain of things to get ready. You need to organise books, uniforms, bags, pens and pencils, socks and shoes, and that’s just a few things. Plus, everything needs to be named as well. If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry, you still have a few weeks up your sleeve. But to help you on your way, here are a few hints, tips and tricks to help prepare for the start of the school year.

Pencils, Paper, Bags & Shoes: It's Back to School Time!

Books and pencils

Let’s start with stationery. If you haven’t placed a stationery order by now, it might be time to get a wriggle on. Some of the best places to go, if you aren’t ordering directly through your school – or your cut-off date has long since expired – are actually closer than you think.

Check out your local newsagent for all stationery bits and pieces.

If you want bigger – Officeworks is one way to go. If you provide a copy of your booklist online, they can fill it for you. You can also choose your own items online and either collect them or have them home-delivered. Your other option is to collect in-store. Some of the nearest Officeworks stores include North Lakes, Morayfield, Rothwell and Strathpine.

The School Locker Superstore in North Lakes also covers a wide range of stationery items.

Another option is to buy your own items straight from the big guns – Kmart, Target and Big W. You can click and collect or have things home delivered, but make sure you order it with time to spare.

A few tips

If I’ve learnt anything in the five years since having a child start at school, it is that book covers are amazing! If you want to contact your books, go ahead, but to save time, book covers are the way to go! And yes, they come in scrapbook and small book sizes too!

Buy everything as early as possible because if you leave it too late, things do sell out.

Book packs organised through your school are super convenient. If you missed the cut-off date, remember this option for the next school year.

If your school has a Facebook page, keep an eye out for anyone selling unused items or second-hand options like a dictionary. This can save you a few dollars as well.

Name label stickers. They have been a saviour to me since my girls started attending school. These come in multiple sizes and are great for naming books, lunch containers, drink bottles and even pencils! Follow or get on email lists for name label companies (there’s Hippo Blue, Tinyme, My Name Label and Stuck On You, just to name a few) and order what you need when they have specials or a sale.

Sew/iron-on name labels are also great for hats, bags, jackets and jumpers.


If you want to buy brand new uniforms, go for it. But don’t leave it until right before school starts. You may miss out on the size you need.

The same timeline rules apply when looking for shoes. Don’t leave it too late and check out all the usual suspects – The Athlete’s Foot, The School Locker, Big W, Target, Kmart, Spendless Shoes, Rebel, Foot Locker, Williams and more.

Check to see if your school has a second-hand uniform page and keep an eye out for bargains as most parents sell towards the end of/beginning of each term.

Packing lunches

This is more for those sending their little ones for the first time, but in case you need a refresher:

Check if your school has any rules on certain foods due to allergies (nuts, eggs, dairy and specific fruit rules do apply to some schools).

Pack a variety of foods that you know your child will eat. If in doubt, ask them what they want and use a bit of common sense based on their answer.

Pack things they can open themselves as teachers may not be able to help everyone at once.

Be prepared in those first few weeks for food to come home again as they navigate the new timetable with food breaks and adjust to how long they have to eat and play.

First timers

If it’s your first time sending a preppie off on the start of their schooling journey, stay strong and be excited for them.

You can expect a few tears – could be theirs or yours! Or both! So pack a few tissues.

Remember to allow time for that obligatory first-day photo. Try to do it at home but also at school if you have time.

They will be tired in the first couple and last couple of weeks each term and probably behave accordingly. It will be hard on everyone!

As the countdown narrows towards the finish line (first day) you’ll hear the collective sigh of parents who have been busily preparing for this moment. Good luck!


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