When my eldest daughter (9) started school back in 2011 I have to say I was fairly overwhelmed with all the school buying, I wasn’t sure what was necessary and what wasn’t. Also, I was under the impression school education was free, well that’s what the government say so I thought books and uniforms would be provided, oh how I laugh now at that thought!
I got a lot of different conflicting advice from the school and friends but eventually after some mistakes here and there I now know where’s best to shop for the best price & quality and what I/the kids really need each year.
This year I have two going off to primary school so I thought a list of my top back to school shopping tips might be useful to some other parents with school going kids, especially if it’s the first time!
Luckily in my kids’ school, we can buy the crest to sew onto generic uniforms meaning it cuts down cost big time. Unfortunately, some schools don’t have this option or as I noticed don’t tell parents of new pupils due to start which is both a pity and sly in my opinion. So do make sure to double-check.
My go to for uniforms is Dunnes & M&S. Both similar quality and have great extra’s like velcro top buttons and elastic cuffs for younger kids to drop down hems (m&s only).
M&S do 20% off uniforms every year usually around the month of July. Tesco is another brand I’ve heard is good for uniforms but I haven’t personally tries yet. Also if you have a few kids and want to be able to pass down some items so if you can afford it, get the higher cotton and quality uniforms so they last.
For socks and tights Pennys or the likes do the job for us.
UPDATE: I’ve since found that Aldi now do uniform item coming up to back to school seasona and they are amazing quality; a pair of boys trousers are only €2 but as good as M&S quality. They do brillaint shoes and trainers too.
When it comes to runners, I get them in sports shops sale such as Life Style Sports. You’d be surprized how cheap you can get a good brand and quality pair of runners when they have their sales on.
Elvery’s also currently have a deal of buy one pair and get one half price off some of their kids runners as well as other offers.
If you are with Electric Ireland and signed up to their ElectricIrelandRewards.ie website you can get €15% off at Life Style Sports and 15% off at Elvery’s. Same with Three.ie if you are with them download their app and they have discount codes.
For school shoes I always go with Shoe Zone, I find them reasonable but also last well. Most years I end up going through two pairs as their feet grow so I prefer to go with the cheaper option rather than spending €50 on a pair they will get the same amount of time out of and still scuff after 2 weeks. My kids really wear shoes down fast!
My first tip would be to get a good waterproof, winter jacket as they’ll get so much use out of that….lovely Irish weather remember, so it’s gonna be cold most of the school year lol!
The second tip, get a bright coloured coat. Over the years I’ve found if my kids have a bright coat I can spot them in crowd much faster. So when they are coming out of school in a sea of people and dark winter coats I can usually spot them fairly quick 🙂
Lidl often come out with their really warm ski jackets, I’ve found great for the kids over the years. Sports Direct do some decent branded ones too that aren’t too expensive. Mountain Warehouse is another one that does good prices when on sale. Lastly Pennys & Dunnes are just as good too.
Books & Covering
Cheapest place for books I’ve found every year after a lot of research is Easons School book website here, they often have a 10% off code or if you are with Electric Ireland they have a 15% off code when you spend over €100, that came in handy this year now I’ve two kids books to buy.
When it comes to covering books…emmm, nope, I never do it! I think I did for the first year, then realised it was a waste as they were all workbooks so only needed for that year. I now only cover books they will be using for a few years like the spelling books and dictionaries but that’s it.
Editing to add that The Book Haven have a website where you can look up your kid’s school and class book list (they have most) and then you can choose between new or second-hand! I’ve saved a few bib this year getting second-hand books thanks to the ease of their website! Winning!
I remember totally panicking about what sized bag was right when my first started school. I eventually figured a pre-school sized bag but with two different compartments does them. My guide is if it fits an A4 sized book with room for their lunch and pencil case too it’s perfect. Smyths do perfect sized bags for this age group usually have them half price (around €8.50) during the summer months. See here
As they get older and bigger (1st/2nd class) bags with 3 compartments are best for all their books, projects, pencil cases, lunch etc. Something with padded shoulder straps too.
Sports shops are brilliant for the older kids bag, I bought my daughter one from Elvery’s for €20ish and she is now going into her 3rd year of using it. It’s still in great condition ever after being flung around, carrying heavy books and washed in the washing machine a few times. The brand is Riptear if anyone want’s to know.
Also, very important, avoid wheelie bags!! Yes, your eager junior infant thinks it’s cool but they are not practical at all so I learned after our experience one year. The wheels are soooo bloody noisy, kids end up tripping over it in the classroom & school line and the handle can sometimes break off rendering it fairly useless and you having to buy a new bag. Avoid!
Mr.Price is deadly for all their pencils, parers, rulers, glue sticks, rubbers, pencil cases, copy books etc. Huge range and really cheap.
Dealz also have school bits in now. Both really cheap which is great since you will prob need to rebuy a few bits throughout the year when things get broken/lost/stolen *sigh*.
Both really cheap which is great since you will prob need to rebuy a few bits throughout the year when things get broken/lost/stolen *sigh*.
I have to add this one….lice repellent spray! Hedrin do a good one (better than Lyclear I’ve found) or you can get leave in tea tree conditioners that apparently the lice don’t like. Invest in a comb (I recommend the Nitty Gritty one) and check/comb your kids hair once a week.That’s a post for another day haha!
I don;t really buy into the whole buying of nametags or personalized ones, I just use a sharpie and write their names on the clothes, lunchboxes etc.
Check local charity shops too as you can often get brand new or hardly word local uniforms in them!
Fancy lunch boxes with a few departments for food seem really handy but usually end up breaking or just being too big and awkward, A normal one does just fine and you can get mini boxes/tubs t fit into the bigger one for fruit etc.
Last but not least, on their first day of school, no matter what year they are starting, have them stand with a blackboard or piece of paper with the date and what class they are going into, what they want to be when they are older etc and take a pic! It’s sooooo lovely to look back on!
That’s all I can think of for now, but I think of any more I’ll add them. If you have any good tips to share please do leave them below in the comments or add your post in the linky! Horray for it almost being back to school time though, my head can’t take the sibling fights much longer! Yaz xo