Kitting out kids for school

WITH the new school year just around the corner, kids starting kindergarten are already proudly parading their uniforms.

But for some Coffs Coast parents, the cost of outfitting the kids can be a significant burden.

Luckily there are ways to help mums and dads get the best for less.

They might sound simple, but fundamentals like writing a list, making a budget and prioritising will help keep things in perspective and a smooth start will allow time for money-saving measures.

Shopping around requires more time and energy, but can save a considerable amount of money.

The Australian Scholarships Group advocates the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ principal and suggests buying second-hand through school exchanges, opportunity shops or online.

The Education Tax Refund reimburses parents for up to 50 per cent of equipment costs and includes textbooks, stationary, computers and related equipment.

Keeping receipts is essential and the maximum amount parents are reimbursed is $397 for each primary student and $794 for secondary students.

Keeping receipts also protects against faulty products. For some items, especially electronic, it is important to weigh up quality versus price.

Local mum Maree Loprete has advice to offer to parents with kids starting school. She has three children and daughter, Allora, is starting kindy next week.

“Just breathe and relax, it’s just kindergarten, let them be kindies,” she said. “They are little people and have 12 years to get into it. I have two older kids; this is the easy end.

“Don’t teach them to grow up too quickly, they have their whole life time to grow and learn.”

Professor of Education at Southern Cross University, David Lynch, said the mixed feelings of students starting kindy can extend to parents and he has some techniques to make the transition easier.

“Make sure they have a filling breakfast and include some treats in their lunchbox for them to discover at lunchtime,” Prof. Lynch said.

“Be on time when you take your child to school. The first day is nerve-wracking enough without having the whole class stare at you when you come in late.

“If your child is upset when you leave, don’t stay around unless the teacher asks you to do so. Teachers usually find the tears only last as long as the child can see mum or dad.”

Professor Lynch said children who have been exposed to childcare environments will be well placed for the formalities of school.

Happy Days Pre-School and Long Day Care Centre in Coffs Harbour has 28 out of 40 kids starting kindergarten this year.

Director Janene Williams says she knows they will have fun at “big school”.

“We wish them all well and hope we have given them the grounding for future learning,” Ms Williams said.

A colourful cast of school uniforms decorated the childcare centre yesterday as outgoing students proudly wore their new school clothes.

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