Buy quality over quantity

It is tempting to buy a cheap school bag, lunch box or water bottle, but what may seem cost effective now will just fall apart in no time at all. It pays to spend more on good quality, sturdy items that will last for a long time. Quality, and durability are more important than being trendy or having the “latest” version.

Keeping up with the Jones’ is a major issue in our society. Children face enormous peer pressure and will interact with children with much more than they have. As a parent, take the time to talk through these challenging social issues to build their confidence.

Make your children accountable for their possessions

This is a good opportunity to teach your children accountability. Sit down with them to make an inventory of all they are taking for school. They should learn to be accountable for their belongings and at the end of the term should be expected to bring them back home largely intact. When they return, tick off items together as they unpack. Some items in condition can still be used for the following term. Give a small reward for outstanding care of personal possessions. Such incentives have a way of reinforcing messages.

Extracurricular activities

Extracurricular activities help children to develop and nurture their skills and talents. But your child cannot take part in every activity; there must be some balance to ensure that they are not under undue pressure. Most family budgets cannot afford more than one or two extras; select their favourite activities or those that they are showing interest in, and look for cheaper options outside school, particularly during the holidays.

Send them to school healthy

Before your children go back to school, a general health check is important-eyes, teeth, general health to avert any festering problems. The premium on a family medical and dental insurance plan is a small price to pay to ensure that they have access to the best medical care. For day students, homemade meals are more nutritious than the fast food alternatives, so do make this a priority for their daily lunch.

Carpooling

Look into the option of carpooling for the daily school run as well as for extracurricular school activities, after school events or sports practices. With carpooling, parents take turns in taking children to the same school with huge savings on fuelling and running costs as well as freeing up some time out from the hectic school run.

For boarders, carpooling is also a good option for exeats, visiting days and midterm holidays. Plan in advance to draw up a schedule with other parents and share the journey to cut costs on long distance travel. As with any important long term goal, careful planning in advance is necessary. This reduces the pressure and makes giving the legacy of education a pleasure and not a burden.

Excerpt from Nimi Akinkugbe’s “Back to school tips” published on Genevieve Magazine in September 2017

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