Back to school essentials 2014

September is here. The new school year is beginning and we, mums, are already thinking of juggling after-school schedules, our family meals and our careers.

I love the whole Back to School atmosphere. It reminds me of the smell of freshly printed notebook and new books. I still feel emotional about it as I have great memories of going shopping for these items for a new school year with my parents.

If you love the going back to school atmosphere, you will love our favourite school essentials for 2o14. 

back to school

Apparently I am not the only person feeling emotional about the first day at school or back to school. According to a recent research commissioned by Sainsbury’s British parents have revealed that the first day at school is the most emotional milestone in bringing up a child.

Researchers who polled 2,000 parents of school children found that while parenthood is crammed full of millions of joyous moments, dropping a little son or daughter off at school was hailed as the most emotional.

A third felt a mixture of excitement tinged with anxiousness, while a quarter of the dads polled said they themselves were moved to tears.

And seven in ten mums who took part in the study said they were forced to reach for a tissue when their satchel-clad four year old wandered into a classroom for the first time.

A proud eight in ten parents captured the moment with a ‘first day of school’ photo of their son or daughter proudly dressed in their new school uniform before swiftly framing it, issuing copies to other family members or for a quarter- uploading it to Facebook straightaway.

Among the other emotional milestones were a child’s first tentative steps, the first word spoken and celebrating their very first birthday.

The preparation for school starts long before the first day as results showed parents put in extra time to teach their child core skills to have them up to speed for their first day – tying shoe laces, telling the time and basic writing skills were the trickiest to teach.

The countdown to that all important day starts a whole month before for over 1.5 million parents already shopping for school uniforms, bags, lunch boxes and stationery, while 10 per cent are focused more than two months before that very first day.

School Uniform

Sainsburys back tu school 2014 collage

Schools certainly make parents’ lives easier by choosing easy uniform combinations at the beginning of the year and most supermarkets sell the most popular ranges to mix and match pieces of clothing with the schools’ own ones. To make busy families’ lives easier, Sainsbury’s has put their Back To School range to the test to create durable, high quality uniforms at surprisingly low price points – offering exceptional value from ages 2 to 16. The Tu Back to School range is available in over 500 stores nationwide in sizes ranging from age 2 to16 years. Packs of two uniforms start from as little as £13.50 and include a 2-pack of sweatshirts (from £4), a 2-pack of skirts/trousers (from £6) and a 3-pack of polo shirts (from £3.50). Real bargains for families looking to save a few pennies here and there at a start of a new school year. What I like about the TU range is the Perfect Colour feature. Sweatshirts, sweatshirt cardigans, polo shirts and joggers have been made using technologically advanced dye to improve colour retention, so that colours stay brighter for longer. To assure quality that lasts term after term, the Easy Care White Polo Shirts have test washed up to 100 times and the unique cotton rich fabric is proven to retain its shape after washing. Most mums would agree that ironing is one of their least favourite household chores, and thankfully all packed shirts, including the stain resistant Bionic Shirt which is new for this season, are non-iron as standard. Boys’ trousers are finished with a resin on the centrefold and pleats on woven skirts and pinafores are heat set to ensure creases look sharp after washing and wearing. My 8 year old boy has ripped so many trousers over the years and this is a feature I am particularly looking for in a new uniform product. To ensure they are stronger for longer, buttons on all garments and seams on woven trousers, skirts and pinafores have been pull-tested beyond the British industry standard. Secured hems on trousers mean no more mending, whilst adjustable waists guarantee longer lasting wear as the child grows.

School Shoes

back to school geox shoes

As an Italian woman I know too well how important shoes are. You can save on everything but not on shoes and learning how to walk properly and feeling confident with your own body starts from an early age. This is why I never compromise on shoes, neither for myself nor for my son.

My favourite choices in shoes this school year 2014 / 2015 are most certainly Geox and Start-Rite.

I am a bit biased with GEOX as it is an Italian shoe brand and is my first port of call when choosing both my son’s and my own shoes. GEOX makes luxury shoes at affordable prices and makes little feet look really stylish and cute. What I like about this brand is the innovative technology embedded in the shoe to enhance breathability, durability and protection of the feet from the elements. The fact that GEOX shoes have breathable soles to allow feet to breath is an important feature especially for school shoes because children need to wear them all day and their little feet get all sweaty and hot in other shoes. For this is totally unique and I have tried it on my own feet. It really works.

Once I read the story of GEOX’s founder Mr Mario Polegato and found it totally fascinating. Although born into a successful wine-making family business, aged 43 Polegato decided to specialise in shoemaking production with the objective of creating a patent cooling technology that allows feet space to breathe. He introduced the breathable rubber bottom sole to resolve the problem of overheated feet.

back to school shoes GEOX Agata

GEOX Agata Mocassins £50 – These shiny patent mocassins are super smart and comfy.

back to school shoes GEOX William

GEOX William £42 – A lightweight pair of boys’ school shoes. They have a soft leather upper, a single Velcro strap and leather insoles. Also, features a breathable and waterproof sole unit.


Start-Rite has to be one of my top choice among the non Italian brands. I already reviewed Start-rite shoes for a previous feature Summer Shoes for kids Trends 2014 and explained why I love this British brand so much. The new back to school range includes two amazing shoes which are my top choice for their comfort (primarily) thanks to their soft leather.

Back to school shoes Gallop boots black leather RRP £65

START-RITE Gallop: Zip fastening for easy foot entry Lightweight rubber sole for comfort Leather linings to absorb moisture and help keep feet dry Soft leather upper for comfort Sizes from small 1 to large 7.5

TOP TIP FOR MUMS: The Gallop boots can be found in women’s sizes too up to large 7.5. So mums can indulge in these super comfortable boots when doing the school run.

For boys Start-Rite has created a new range called Hat Trick

Back to school shoes Hat Trick RRP £47

Start-Rite Hat Trick RRP £47 – This model comes in sizes small 9 to large 1.5.

This model comes with a free football keyring and little footy Glow in the dark images for added fun. My son totally loved these shoes. Another reason for loving them is that the riptape fastening makes them adjustable and comfortable. They are durable thanks to scuff resistant rubber toe bumper which is essential considering that boys tend to literally destroy the front part of the shoes. Lightweight rubber sole and padded ankle are added to provide extra comfort and support. 



Vango Contour boot back to school

Mums, focused on kids as we are all the time, often forget to look after ourselves.  Being Italian and loving good quality shoes, I never pass on the comfort of my feet especially in the morning when I am on the school run and follow my son on his bicycle. For this coming school year I have chosen the Vango Contour boot, a lightweight, durable boot for hillwalking that is perfect for my daily run to school as well. What I like about these shoes, in particular, is the Vango’s ProTex membrane that ensures my feet stay dry, whilst the EVA midsole with encapsulated shank provide additional comfort and support. The black and fuchsia colours are just perfect as they go well with my jeans-based outfits. Of course they are no Manolo Blahnik, but frankly I don’t care as I am not on a fashion show and being comfortable is my main priority. RRP£65.00 



back to school Stabilo_Assort

The STABILO Woody is a coloured pencil, watercolour and wax crayon all in one. The extra-thick break-resistant 10mm lead comes in 18 rich highly-pigmented colours which work well on light and dark paper, and are especially suitable for small hands. The lead is wrapped up in a pencil-like wooden barrel which stops the lead breaking up into bits like traditional crayons.

Easy Original

back to school STABILO EASYoriginal Blue

With the STABILO EASYoriginal handwriting pen, you can be sure that your child will be off to the best possible start. The STABILO EASYoriginal is ergonomically designed with special grip zones which help to improve your child’s handwriting by encouraging them to hold the pens correctly. These pens are available in both left and right handed options and will even add a little zing of colour with the limited edition EASYoriginal Metallic range!

Easy Graph

back to school Stabilo EASYgraph Left

For those who are learning to write, or in the process of improving handwriting, the EASYgraph ergonomic graphite pencil allows for a unique non-slip grip, promoting the correct hand posture to write relaxed and freely. The staggered grip moulds ensure that your child holds the pencil correctly, even when sharpening, making the learning process that much easier. The EASYgraph pencil is available in both left and right handed options, so you can tailor your child’s equipment to suit them.

The pencil case

The pride and joy of any stationery kit is a funky pencil case.

Sainsbury's Geo pencil case green £5.99

Sainsbury’s Geo pencil case green £5.99

Sainsbury's Butterfly  multi pockets pencil case

Sainsbury’s Butterfly multi pockets pencil case

The Lunch Box

A lunch box for kids (independently from them eating their school dinners or not) is much more than just somewhere to keep fruit snacks. It has become a little treasure chest with a personality.

Sainsbury's Doc Lunchbox £8

Sainsbury’s Doc Lunchbox £8


Sainsbury's Travel Buddies Bag & Bottle

Sainsbury’s Travel Buddies Bag & Bottle


Fun after school educational activities

puzzle club magazine

‘Puzzle Club’, a new puzzle magazine designed for 7-11 year-olds is the only one of its kind which is linked to the National Curriculum. It has been developed by Puzzler Media, the UK’s foremost puzzle content provider, in conjunction with the world’s leading learning company, Pearson. After Puzzler Media commissioned a research report, which proved the efficacy of puzzles in education, Puzzle Club was born. Specifically, the report proves that puzzles can improve students’ motivation and engagement when learning.

On sale from 6 August 2014, Puzzle Club is a 64-page compendium of different puzzles (ranging from crosswords to mazes) which are designed to engage children and allow them to apply / learn school-learnt knowledge in a fun, less pressured way. It’s a great way of getting them practising their handwriting, improving their pen skills and also re-familiarising themselves with school subjects before going back-to-school. It’s also a great aid to be used in the run-up to those frightening 11+ and SAT examinations.


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