The right backpack


Most parents are horrified at the weight of the books children have to carry around. Make it easier for them by providing a backpack and adjusting the straps so that it sits high up on the back, and doesn't dangle below the waist. Get children in the habit of wearing both straps so the weight is evenly distributed.

Vaccinations


School is where most children encounter infectious diseases such as measles or chicken pox, which can largely be prevented by vaccination. Many schools will ask to see the child’s up-to-date immunisation schedule when you apply.

Immune system boost


To ward off the inevitable sniffles, tummy bugs and other conditions that children easily pass on to each other, give your child’s immune system a boost. Offer a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables, and fill lunchboxes with foods that are high in vitamins and minerals, rather than nutrition-poor snack foods.

Lunch box equipment


Be prepared to pack a variety of foods with containers of various kinds, such as tiny plastic containers for a handful of dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Packing in fresh water every day is a must, even for high school students, and if you are sending juice, make sure to wash the bottle immediately when it gets home, or it will develop a musty smell and could cause tummy upsets.

Lice


Every primary school has the occasional outbreak of these itchy little pests. Make sure you know the signs that your child has picked up hair lice, and take swift action.

Ready for activities


Don’t try to skimp on safety gear for sports, including goggles for swimming, shin guards for soccer and a helmet for cricket. Accidents happen all the time, but the right gear can turn a potential headache into just a bump.

Emergency contacts


Think carefully about who you nominate as your children’s emergency contact. Who is likely to be available and good in a crisis when you can’t be contacted? Make sure your child knows who the person is, and write the number in their homework diary in the place provided.

Eye test


A clever child who is under-achieving might simply be struggling to see the board and even to read from the textbook. Take your child for an eye test soon so that he or she doesn’t fall behind.

Germ awareness


Sensible hygiene practices are the best way to prevent the passing on of infections that young children bring to school. A study conducted in Pittsburg schools showed that simple steps including handwashing are all that are required to reduce infections in the classroom, without needing to make your child germ-phobic.

Special challenges


Make sure the school knows if your child has any severe allergies, for example to peanut butter, that staple of most of her classmates’ lunchboxes. Tell the teacher in person, as well as giving a written bullet-point explanation of the dangers and action points.

Image via Thinkstock