The holidays bring respite from the mundane – for kids and adults alike. For the children, it’s a welcome break from strict schedules, homework and exams; and for busy mums and dads, the drudgery of pick-ups and drop-offs. Moreover, budding brains get to enjoy some fun time away from the walls of the classroom.
However, boredom can set in, especially if you haven’t left for a vacation or have already returned from one. Parents can sometimes reach their wits’ end wondering how to keep the children occupied, because summer camps can only do so much.
So why not use this time to set the gears in motion for preparing for the upcoming academic semester? Make a checklist of all the essentials you’ll need, come September. Start sourcing them, while there’s still time, to avoid the mad rush and stocks running out. Involving young ones in the process will add to the excitement and allow them to anticipate going back to class.
If there is a one-stop shop that offers almost all basics, it has to be Centrepoint. Its four brands – Mothercare, Splash, Lifestyle and Shoemart – provide some of the trendiest collections.
Parents will agree that one of the few things a child of any age is most concerned about is their school bag. It’s always wise to invest in a durable one that will last the year. Whether your little (or not-so-little) one is into sport, action heroes, Disney princesses or all-time favourite cartoon characters, Mothercare has a wide range of satchels and shoulder bags to choose from. You can also opt for a matching lunch case complete with all the frills – a tiffin carrier, kid-friendly cutlery, water bottle and a fruit box.
Besides aesthetics, parents must pay attention to the quality of items they are purchasing, especially food-related articles. Low-grade plastics can harm one’s health in the long run, so opt for BPA-free Tritan water bottles, which do not leak toxic chemicals.
Lifestyle and Splash have a great display of snazzy knapsacks and sling backpacks with pop-art, avant-garde and floral prints – perfect for tweens and teens to express their personal style.
Shoemart is a treasure trove of smart footwear. A variety of brands, patterns and designs are up for grabs. The store offers white sports trainers and black school loafers with laces, Velcro fasteners and cartoon characters, as well as international brands like Skechers and Reebok.
It’s true that children probably outgrow their shoes the fastest, but it’s also important that their footgear is comfortable, durable and the right fit, to support the development of the muscles and ligaments of growing feet.
Puma is a global brand that provides top-quality footwear. Its factory outlet at Jannusan has a wide range of styles and prices. The store is currently offering a 25 per cent discount on all back-to-school items.
To avoid last minute chaos, ensure that uniforms fit well and are comfortable enough to run, jump and play in. Centrepoint’s Mothercare, House of Uniforms and Marks & Spencer are good options.
Cath Kidston’s school paraphernalia is beautifully crafted and sure to get little ones charged to take on the new academic term. The brand’s floral print notebooks and pretty hair bows are hard to miss. Children can embrace their inner spirit animal with themes like Pets Party, Safari Stamps and Dragons on cute rucksacks, pouches and lunch carriers. The cheeky monkeys can show off pencil cases that match their backpacks in a range of happy colours.
Students, teachers and parents can source standard study accessories from major hypermarket chains like Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket and Megamart – all stock notebooks, pens, pencils and art-related knick-knacks. It’s also a good idea to purchase frequently required colouring and craft materials before school starts again, so you don’t need to rush to the stores on busy weekdays.
Rev the Engines
Top tips to channel youthful minds to seamlessly slide into the year’s routine:
• Designate a hook and a cubby for kids to stash their belongings. That way, everything will be in one place.
• Chart breakfast and mealtime menus for the week or, better yet, a month ahead. Shop for ingredients together – children are likely to be less fussy if they’re involved in the planning and preparation of the food, with your guidance, of course.
• Hang a white or chalk board for older children to make their own calendars. It helps them to assume responsibility to ensure that they have packed everything they need for the day. This teaches organisation skills and empowers them for the future too.
• Keep your kids’ recent passport-size pictures handy – for IDs, forms and diaries.
• Make sure children are up to date with their immunisations.
• Mutually decide times for waking and going to bed, and start adhering to them two weeks before they head to a new grade or term.
• Set timetables for homework, extracurricular activities, play and mealtimes to avoid long-drawn-out battles later on.
• Make time for reading (together or individually) and writing down thoughts in a journal. This gives them a sense of confidence once school starts.