A mother and her daughter check back-to-school collection displayed at a leading store at the Dubai Festival City on Tuesday.
(Photo by Dhes Handumon)

While parents look for practicality, children are all about trends.

It’s been over a month now since school students in the UAE broke up for the summer holidays. But with only a month left till the school doors open again, how are parents preparing for the back-to-school rush?

For mother-of-two Helen Farmer, it’s all about planning ahead. While school tuition fees and school uniforms require lots of financial planning prior to the start of the new academic year, she said purchasing other bits and bobs like school backpacks, lunch boxes and pencil cases early, can help soften the blow as the new term looms.

Helen Farmer, an award-winning parenting blogger, gives points to mothers during Centrepoint’s Back to¬† School Collection launch. – Photo by Dhes Handumon

As the founder of ‘The Mothership’ blog (an honest take on parenting in Dubai), Farmer said she gets a lot of questions from parents about how to best prepare their kids for school.

“Many mothers ask me about my best buys or regret buys. For me, school shoes are a vital pick. I like the several stores here adhere to the school rules as it cuts out the rig morale of having to search around for the right stuff. ”

In terms of what parents want, “durability and affordability” are high on parents’ lists.

“Going to the mall with kids can be a hassle, so to have multiple brands in one store is easier for parents. No parent wants to go back to the malls again to replace school backpacks or items, so quality products are a must. For me as a parent, I wouldn’t want to spend any more than Dh250 on items like school bags, lunch boxes, and pencil cases.”

Khushboo Sanjania is another parent blogger (mumzynotebook.wordpress.com), and right now, back-to-school bargains are a big topic of discussion on her blog.

“Parents ask lots of questions, but the main thing they are after is something durable. Kids are always on the go. Keeping their school bags clean, tidy and damage-free isn’t always on the top of their agenda, but for parents it is.”

While parents look for practicality, according to her, children are all about trends.

But trends comes second for blogger (fussfree.me.com), mother and special needs teacher, Ritu Chaturvedi. She told Khaleej Times her biggest concern when it comes to buying the right footwear for school is comfort.

“Children wear schools shoes for up to eight hours a day so they should match the shape of the child’s foot, support the arch and have a little space left as the foot expands throughout the day. A breathable shoe is essential too.”

In terms of affordability, she said she would spend upwards of Dh500 on good school shoes and uniforms, but for school accessories like backpacks, a budget of between Dh200-250 will suffice.

“My biggest concern as a parent is always my child’s schoolbag. It should be light, with thick, adjustable shoulder straps. Water bottles are also essential in keeping children hydrated, but water isn’t always the preferable drink for children so a quirky water bottle may entice them. I always look for BPA free bottles too, and most stores provide this option in their back-to-school product line.”

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This year’s trends

Tradition has us thinking that pink is for the girls, and blue is for the boys, but not this year. Interestingly, Rula Zaidan, from Lifestyle, said they are seeing more and more teens moving into different colour schemes.

“What we’re seeing with Generation Z is that they are more gender neutral. They’re no longer following this pattern of pink for a girl and blue for a boy, so mixed colours are a big hit with school backpacks this year.”

And when it comes to footwear, Anoop Boparai, from Shoe Mart, has the lowdown on what will keep you in your children’s good books come September.

“This year we have moved away from lace ups. Parent focus groups have taught us that children prefer strap ups, and for parents themselves, they’re the more efficient style as they take less time to take on and off, saving time in the morning during the school rush.”

Given the restrictions from schools when it comes to footwear, Boparai said the black and white exteriors have been cleverly contrasted inside.

“We’ve transformed the interior into bright and colourful artworks with some of the favourite children’s characters out there. That appeals to the parent and the child as it is in keeping with the school rules.”

And when it comes to new trends this season, he said ‘Hello Kitty’ and ‘Puket’ are the new styles for girls, and for boys ‘Captain America’ and ‘Iron Man’ continue to be the most popular.

“They’ve been gold for us forever. For girls, the most popular at the moment is the Princess collection from Disney, but we are expecting the new introductions to do well.”

Though shoes in both gloss and matte are available, he said gloss seems more preferable among parents this season.

[“Source-khaleejtimes”]

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