Only 13 days to go till the Rentrée – whether that’s an unlucky or lucky amount of days depends on whether you’re a pupil or a parent! It’s hard to believe the kids have been off nearly two months, but still aren’t going back yet. Nine weeks is quite a while, but it’s been fun having them around (on the whole!). But now R-day is looming.

So, to concentrate your minds, here’s a countdown checklist:

R-13: tackle the dreaded liste de fournitures if you haven’t already. This is the list of school supplies the kids will need to bring in on their first day – paper, pens, hole punches, folders etc. You should have been given the list at the end of term. However, we, the parents of kids at St Marien’s, weren’t. A new teacher is starting at the school and we’ve heard nothing from her as to what we need to buy, which is annoying. However, I’ll stock up on the usual suspects and hope they’ll do.

R-12: make sure you’ve got all the required text books. If you have children at lycée or Uni you’ll have to shell out for these, which are usually in the region of €30 new. I get mine from Amazon marketplace, but many lycées operate book rental schemes or have secondhand sales. Sadly the courses all changed the year after Caiti started at lycée, and therefore all the textbooks too. So there’s no market for hers. Ruadhri can turn them into briquettes so that we get some final value for money out of them! Collège students may need to buy some workbooks, most likely English. I tried to get out of having to get these for my two eldest for obvious reasons, but unsuccessfully. They came with a handy CD, just in case we’d forgotten how to pronounce our mother tongue!

R-11: sort out ‘uniform’. There aren’t official uniforms in French schools, but there are unofficial ones that the kids self-impose. Currently they’re grungy coloured tops and coats and skinny jeans. It’s ironic really that out of choice the kids all tend to dress the same. Try to put them in school uniforms though, so they all look alike, and they’d all rebel! Probably strike here in France. Rors will be going back in shorts and teeshirts, so I need to check they all still fit from before the hols. Caiti has quite a stash of clothes already, but our Benj needs some new stuff for Uni. There’s no need to go mad and buy designer labels for school. Our experience has been that the kids aren’t that fussed about them. They go for what looks nice.

R-10: footwear check. Some primary schools and maternelles ask for slippers for indoor wear. This bugs me, as they’re too hot in summer, never get worn out and never get brought home in the holidays. Not allowed, Rors tells me. Plus it’s easy to forget about renewing them during the year and as a result your child is wearing tight footwear which isn’t good for growing toes. Rors always has sandals and runners at the beginning of autumn term. The sandals are replaced by good, waterproof shoes once the weather turns cold. And he always has wellies for the very wet days. I suppose that’s where the slippers-at-school comes in handy. You don’t have to give your child a pair of shoes to take to school to put on when they take their wellies off.

R-9: rucksack vs cartable or over-the-shoulder bag. Cartables, satchels, are the most popular  here, but I personally don’t like them. They tend to be clumpy and wider than your child’s shoulders. I remember Caiti was always getting caught on the side of doorways in hers. They didn’t hold that much either. For the last couple of years I got Rors the cheapest rucksacks I could find i.e. China’s best at the supermarkets, but they’ve proved to be a false economy. They don’t last. Either the zip goes or the bottom wears through, usually both, and well before the end of the year. So this year we’ve upgraded to one costing around €20. Unfortunately there are very few that fall in the price range between the few euros the cheap ones cost and the €20+ for the sturdy varieties. You can go up to €50 if you go for a trade name such as Nike or Adidas. Not in this house! My two teens opted for over the shoulder bags. They took some hunting down, but Carrefour came up trumps a couple of years ago. Those bags are still going strong, but I worry that they’re not very good ergonomically speaking. Lycée students have a lot of stuff to carry around all day with them.

That’s probably enough for now. I’ll carry on with the countdown in another post. I don’t want to make the rentrée seem more daunting than it actually is!