With 2022 underway, there is a whole new group of wide-eyed, eager and perhaps slightly anxious multiples heading into the start of their formal schooling adventure.
We asked our members with school-aged multiples for their advice on the best ways to get ready – here’s their top 10 tips!
1. Practice the basics
Simple tasks can become giant hurdles for little hands. Have your children practiced opening and closing their lunch boxes and school bags? Can your children fasten their shoes and have they been worn in properly? Can each child identify their own hat and water bottle? Practicing these simple things will build confidence and familiarity with frequently used items.
2. Accessing restrooms
Similar to the first tip, it’s also important that your children understand how to use and lock a toilet stall on their own. Whilst kids may have mastered their toileting some time ago, the layout and use of a school restroom can be overwhelming without a little bit of adult guidance.
3. Don’t miss a date
As the term moves on, it can be easy to lose track of important dates. So get in early and find the school calendar – mark all the important dates on your family calendar and make sure you check back regularly. Cross-check public holidays, school holidays and pupil free days. Whilst many schools have great communication, it’s important not to rely on reminders for critical dates, particularly if you are juggling dates across two classrooms in the same year level.
4. Together or apart?
This is a regular question for parents of twins and triplets – do you keep your children in the same class, or separate them (where available)? This decision will need to be based on the needs of each child and each family. We recommend engaging in the conversation early with your school’s staff to come up with an ideal plan. The insight of kindergarden and daycare educators can also be invaluable here.
Maintaining open dialogue on this issue during the early weeks and months of this process is also vital – don’t be afraid to ask questions of teachers and get updates about their progress. If you don’t feel comfortable about how they are progressing, then raise it as a matter for further discussion. Finally, try not to be swayed by the opinions of others on this topic – what works for one family, may not work for another.
5. Getting shirty
There are a number of special days / events celebrated throughout the school year and children are often asked to wear a specific colour for each occasion. In conjunction with marking these important dates in your calendar, consider having a small stash of plain coloured T-shirts in each colour set aside at the beginning of the year. This will be so much easier than trying to hunt around the night before!
6. Group support
Find out early if your child’s class or year level has a social media group chat for parents. Quite often these are started by parents (not the school) and are a great way to get further information and connect with other parents. Some smaller schools will also have a school-wide group that you can join for more general information.
7. Which one is which?
A perennial issue for parents of identical multiples – with each year comes a new set of teaching staff that need to learn how to tell your children apart. Is there a way you can identify each child within the parameters of the school’s dress code? Some clever ideas here include coloured hair ribbons, different hair cuts, distinct shoe laces, or a pin / ribbon / initial on their shirt.
8. Label, label, label
Whilst not the most exciting of jobs, labelling school items is so important. There is a huge variety of labels for different materials, so do some research to see what system works best for you. Hopefully you will save some money and frustration in the long run, particularly if you have more than one set of everything to lose!
9. Vacation care head start
If your school offers a vacation care program, consider enrolling your children for a season or two before school starts. This will give them the opportunity to get a feel for the school environment, familiarise themselves with the facilities and get to know some of the school systems without the pressure of crowds.
10. Secondhand uniforms
Another expensive hurdle for families of multiples is a lack of hand-me-downs, especially if your twins / triplets are different sexes or wearing the same clothing size at the same time. Reach out to the secondhand uniform shop or the local buy/sell/swap page to see what you can find. Explain that you are shopping for multiples so that everyone understands you’re trying to clothe more than one child at the same time!
A final bonus tip for all our amazing parents of multiples – starting school can be emotionally and physically exhausting for you too. Whilst you’re no longer in the midst of the newborn or toddler phase usually associated with peak exhaustion levels, school is likely to bring some other challenges that you will need to be ready to tackle. So, be kind on yourself. Seek help when you need it. Accept those moments when you need to rest, particularly into the end of the school year when energy reserves are depleted.
Hopefully 2022 will see us through without as many challenges as the 2021 schooling year. Wishing all our multiples families a seamless and exciting transition to the new school year in 2022 – we can’ t wait to see all the cute Prep photos!