Four years ago, my daughter started school.
Four years and one week ago, my daughter finally stopped wearing nappies.
She started school with a full statement of special educational needs and a full time teaching assistant but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. For her or for me.
I spent a long time preparing for the start of term and thinking about ways to make life a tiny bit easier for all concerned.
If you have a child with delayed development, learning difficulties or poor fine motor skills, or maybe they are very young or simply find things a bit of a struggle, then perhaps these tips might help!
Starting from the bottom up (literally), pants should definitely be dark coloured or patterned and have motif or bow on the front. The dark colours will disguise a little accident and the motif will ensure that they can figure out which side is the front.
For girls, tights are warmer in the winter but more tricky to get up and down so it might be best to stick to socks unless you know that they can manage. If your child is sensory seeking, white socks won’t last two minutes. Try grey or a uniform colour – navy, green etc. And with supermarkets selling clothing so cheaply, buy plenty, all the same, so that finding a matching pair is not too hard in the morning.
Our school suggests aertex shirts but I find that once they’re freshly washed, the buttons are really hard to do up. So I opt for easy iron cotton shirts everytime. Short sleeves for warm days and long for most of the year. Don’t do novelty ones, heart or flower shaped buttons are much more difficult to manage.
Choose a dress or pinafore with a zip up closing or one that just pulls over the head. Buttons may be a challenge too far. Skirts are easy for all girls but check that they have an adjustable waist otherwise it can be hard to get one that fits waist and length perfectly. I imagine it’s the same with trousers.
Initially I thought cardigans would be the best option for warmth, easy to slip on and cosy. But I hadn’t factored in the buttons issue. My daughter couldn’t do them up so would end up being chilly. A nice loose, easy to wash, acrylic wool mix jumper is easy to pull on and I’ve found they wear better than the school uniform sweatshirt type.
For outside, I’d suggest a coat with Velcro closings as well as zips or buttons. At least that way, there’s a chance it might stay closed even if no one helps. And depending on the child, I’d get a larger size coat. For years I couldn’t get a pair of gloves on my daughter, despite trying all shapes, sizes and colours. So a long coat with long sleeves can keep fingers warm.
I usually like to buy some decent bits of uniform and then some fillers from the cheaper shops. I’d definitely recommend having enough shirts and bottoms for a fresh set every day. Jumpers too if possible, but no less than three certainly.
I have never brought my daughter uniform shopping. I either buy online or pick it up when I’m in the supermarket. I’ve never had a problem with sizing and even if I did, it’s a lot easier to try it all on in the comfort of our own house than worry about noise, hassle and stress on the high street.
Talking of which, Clarks sell foot measuring gauges on their website. I measure my kids feet at home then buy online. The chaos of in-store shoe shopping is just too much for me, let alone my sensitive daughter. I do buy good brands because my daughter is dyspraxic and needs supportive footwear. I’ve found Hush Puppies really good as they supply various insoles to tailor the fit a bit more individually to each foot. You probably already know not to even consider anything but velcro straps until your child is at least 22.
And then, the pièce de résistance. Label everything. I mean it. Clothes obviously, but also shoes, water bottles, lunch boxes, trainers, everything that you might want back at some point. And since I’d rather stick hot needles into my eyeballs than handwrite anything, I buy Stikins from Amazon (other brands are available). Personalised stick on name labels that last through washing machines and dishwashers. A life saver!
Dull post but hey ho, I’m sure I’ll be back to burning down ancient buildings and showering with my poo covered dog next week.