Back to School in Dorset

After the long summer holiday, it takes a bit of adjusting to get back into the normal school routine.

So, it makes sense to accommodate these changes towards the end of the holiday.

No-one wants to get caught up in a frenzy the day before school starts, fighting for school uniform or new shoes, so a little forward planning will go a long way.

Here are some tips on how to create a smooth transition from holiday to school…



Putting the First Foot Forward

It is sensible to shoe shop in the late afternoon, as feet can swell by up to 8 % in a day. Opt for a store that employs experienced shoe fitters who have been trained to measure children’s feet properly.

To check if the shoe fits, get your child to wiggle their toes. There should be at least a half-inch of space for growth between the tip of the big toe and the top of the shoe.

Watch the video about kids’ foot care and learn how to treat common foot problems in children by visiting





Brain training in the summer holiday

Easing the way back to school isn’t just about having the whole kit and caboodle ready to go.

With each advancing year at primary school the workload increases significantly and sometimes the first day back can be a bit of a shock, especially if a child has avoided anything education-related for the entire break.

Encouraging a child to partake in a few brain activities over the summer break will mean that they are better prepared for the year ahead.

Take a look at the Kids Activities Section on this website to find downloadable fun activity and educational worksheets.

In addition, it will be fruitful to encourage a child to read at every opportunity during the six week break. A lot of people assume this means putting a book in a child’s hand – not necessarily. Once a child has mastered reading, point them towards sections in the newspaper that may interest them, do some cooking with them and get them to read the recipes, or when travelling get them to read maps, road names and street signs.


Iron Mill College’s Taster Day: Saturday 29 July

Iron Mill College is a leading provider of creative and inspiring teaching, in the fields of mental health and wellbeing. Its Poole college is expanding, with more courses on offer and a growing community of students, so it has just moved into a new larger venue with even better facilities. See the exciting opportunities on offer for yourself, at the upcoming Taster Day on Saturday 29 July. Learn more at or contact 01202 743804 or email


Kumon Opens its Doors in Oakdale, Poole

The Poole Kumon Study Centre has opened a new class at St George’s Church Hall in Oakdale, offering their unique maths and English programmes to children of all ages. The new Oakdale class runs every Monday, all year round, from 3.45pm to 6.15pm. Classes also run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at Buckholme Towers School in Ashley Cross. For more information, contact Instructor Alex Gorringe on 01202 248302 or email


Summer learning and dyslexia support from Diverse Thinking 

We all look forward to the holidays, but skills and knowledge can be forgotten during long school breaks. A variety of fun learning activities can help. Library-based Summer Reading Challenges, puzzle books, games like Scrabble, dominos and jigsaws all develop numeracy and literacy skills. If your child struggles with literacy or numeracy they may benefit from a dyslexia assessment. Vicki Angel is a qualified assessor working across Dorset. For further information contact Vicki on 07913 417192 or



Choosing the right rucksack

Unsurprisingly, given the size and contents of their bags, back pain is becoming increasingly common among the young.

Tim Hutchful, from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) advises,

“You can help to protect your child from back and neck pain by making sure they have the right school gear and don’t carry too much with them each day.”

The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) recommends rucksacks, carried on both shoulders and checked daily for excess weight, as the best school bags. BCA also advise wearing supportive soft-soled shoes and for children to keep as active as possible throughout the day.

 For more information check



Go Shopping

It’s amazing how some children grow during the summer holiday!

So, it may be best to get a slightly bigger school uniform purchased early on before the big rush at the end of August!

As shoes have to be an exact fit it’s not worth buying those too soon, but do make an appointment at your local shoe retailer to avoid long queues.





Avoid uniform becoming lost property

According to a recent survey, the average family spends up to £150 per year replacing lost property for children. So not only is a lost jumper at school an inconvenience to parents: the cost of replacing items obviously accumulates over time.

Many parents label or mark each item of uniform clearly at the beginning of the school year, only to find the labels fall off in the wash or else that the ‘indelible’ ink fades after a month or so.

There are plenty of businesses that offer iron-on, sew on or self-adhesive labels, sometimes in a variety of funky colours.

Do your research to discover whether the labels are durable or if they are likely to dissolve in the washing machine.



Get ready… for the next step   

If your child is in Years 5 or 6, you may find the summer holiday an opportune time to consider all the secondary school options available to them.

The break away from the usual school routine will give you both time to do a bit of research and look at what the different schools have to offer.

Many schools have particular strengths so consider each school’s suitability for your child – it may be that your child may flourish at a school other than the one in your catchment area. Consider all your options and order a number of prospectuses to read more.

Write down the dates of the school open days in your diary 

The deadline for school admission applications is 31 October so there is plenty of time to consider all the options available to your child.

If you have any queries about the application process you can call the Dorset Education helpline on 01305 221060 or email; or call the Bournemouth Education helpline on 01202 456222 or email; or call the Poole Education helpline on 01202 261936 or email


In Primary Times’ Back to School issue you will find an extensive School Open Days Directory which lists all the schools in the area, their open days and contact details. Details of applying and how to do it will also be supplied – so look out for your copy which will be distributed via your child’s school from 4 September...



Top tips to help a child settle smoothly back to school

With the start of another school year your child will be exposed to a new teacher, a new classroom and a whole load of new topics and subjects. After this fresh start, wouldn’t it be nice if there were no hiccups through the autumn and beyond. As parents, we can reduce the number of stumbling blocks in a number of ways – so we’ve taken a look at a few of them here…


1. Get prepared…

If you haven’t yet shopped for uniform, bear in mind that some clothing retailers still provide offers - even during the early weeks of September. Just be aware that many shops run out of stock quickly at the start of term, so head to the shops as soon as possible. Don’t forget to label all clothing items with iron-on, sew-on or self-adhesive labels. Not only is a lost jumper at school an inconvenience; the cost of replacing items mounts up, too.


2. Bedtimes…

Get into a routine of preparing for school the night before. Let your child become involved with packing lunch or laying out clothes. Also, start finding a bedtime routine and get them to bed early, as too many late nights will play havoc with a child’s immune system. Children who go to sleep at a suitable hour give their body time to repair and to regenerate. Settle your child by reading a warming storybook together and use the time to lightly discuss any concerns.


3. Mornings…

Pre-school hours are usually hectic and sometimes chaotic. It’s hard to fit 30 activities into the space of two hours, but each and every family miraculously manages to fulfil this task while being half asleep! To smooth the morning’s rough edges, invest time outside the school rush to teach your children valuable life skills such as dressing themselves, brushing hair and tying shoelaces. Re-set your clock 15 minutes early and allow yourself plenty of time. Arrive early at school so that you can stay a little while with your child.


4. Pack a healthy lunch…

Some parents may wish to be creative with food and pack a vitamin-rich lunch for their child to take in to school. Sneak in some healthy options using plenty of fruit and vegetables if you can. Fresh ideas include: a small tub of coleslaw; vegetable soup in a flask; fruit yoghurt or yoghurt drink; dried fruit such as raisins; and a carton of pure fruit juice. More ideas can be found at:


5. At the end of the day…

As you finish work for the day, lay aside your daily stress, and just focus on being a parent. Try to arrive at the school gates a little early, as by being a few minutes late you will leave a child feeling vulnerable. Have a healthy snack ready to give to your child to replenish energy levels. And allow some behavioural leeway for the first couple of weeks as they settle into a new routine, which is often exhausting.


6. Choosing childcare…

All schools are expected to provide access to extended childcare services and indeed many primary schools offer access to high quality childcare between 8am and 6pm on the school site or through other local providers such as childminders, with supervised transfer arrangements where appropriate. This of course allows children to simply relax, play and unwind in a safe environment, as their parents work.


7. Keeping on top of homework…

Encourage your child to keep on top of homework by getting them to complete it as soon as they can. You can make life easy and comfortable for your child by creating a suitable environment for him or her to study in. Completing work at a regular time is vitally important, and needs to be carefully scheduled into your child’s routine.


8. Encourage interests…

Improved confidence and self-esteem are often the rewards for children who develop a special interest outside of school. Primary school children are at a perfect age to acquire interests and learn new skills, as parents are still able to exercise their influence, to steer children positively towards an activity, or interest that draws on a personal strength. If children believe they are good at one thing, their self-belief grows.


9. Encourage healthy friendships…

It’s definitely worth keeping a watchful eye on friendships, as we all worry that our children will fall in with the wrong crowd, even at an early age. Don’t always leave your child’s friendships to chance! Sometimes, a youngster may need a little assistance to choose a compatible playmate. As each year goes by at school, the influence of peers becomes greater. Creating a solid set of values and beliefs at home will help reduce the level of peer influence.


10. Just be there for them…

A child who is regularly comforted, who is assured of love and whose needs are responded to, will feel more secure and content. After all, who doesn’t enjoy unconditional attention being lavished on them? This is all our children want, too.








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