Updated on August 9, 2016
10 Things You Actually Need For Preschool
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And just like that, summer is coming to an end and it’s back to school time! School doesn’t start back up until September here (after Labour Day), so there’s still almost a full month to get things in order! If your child is entering preschool for the very first time this September, you might be wondering what on earth they actually need for preschool! I know around this time last year I was frantically scouring the internet for the best deals on ALL THE SCHOOL THINGS without really knowing what The Heir would need for school. Now that The Heir is getting ready to head into his second year of preschool, I have learned a thing or two about what you actually need to have for preschool. A friend of mine is sending her daughter off to preschool for the very first time this year, and she asked me if I’d share my preschool wisdom with her through a blog post. Not one to shy away from such a request, of course I said yes! So here we are! Here’s my list of what you actually need for preschool!
1. Go to the preschool open house! Okay, so I’m starting the list off with something that isn’t an item you need, but rather something I really think you should do if you can. If the preschool your child is going to has an open house day or days the week before preschool actually starts, you should absolutely go to this with your child. I know it’s not always possible because of work and other commitments, but if you can’t take your child to at least one open house day I’d recommend trying to find a family member or caregiver who can take your child. These preschool open house days are an opportunity for your child to experience the preschool environment with their parent/family member at their side. Even if your child isn’t the shy type, it’s still a good idea to attend. First of all, they will meet their preschool teacher(s) and likely have a chance for a bit of one on one time. Having an opportunity to meet and interact with the teacher before school actually starts really helps with the transition. Second, your child will have the opportunity to meet and play with some of his/her classmates. A familiar face on the first official day of school is never a bad thing!
When I did the two open house days last year with The Heir, it was an invaluable experience (for both of us). The Heir got a feel for the room, figured out where the bathroom was, met a few of his classmates, and had a chance to interact with his teachers. As a result, his first day of preschool was just the first day of preschool without me rather than a day full of brand new things. The open house taught me a few things too, including how early we had to leave the house to actually arrive on time in rush hour traffic.
2. Backpack. Okay, so now I’ll get into the actual things that you need for your child for preschool. First on the list is a backpack. The Heir has a Crocodile Creek back pack, and it works great! It fits all the things he needs to bring each day, and all the things he ends up bringing home too. It’s nice and sturdy, so he’ll be using it this year, and probably for kindergarten next year as well.
3. Lunch box. Preschool is just a half day affair here, but they do take a snack break. You don’t need anything huge, but it should be easy for your child to open. You’ll also want something that’s easy to clean on the inside. The Heir doesn’t always finish his snack, and he’s not terribly discerning about where he puts his leftover food when he’s done. I’ve opened the lunch kit at home to find a half eaten cheese stick and a peach slice just hanging about loose in the lunch kit, so a wipeable interior is a must. The Heir’s lunch kit is a Classic Lunch Bag from Pottery Barn Kids, and it works great and cleaning it up is a breeze! This Crocodile Creek Lunch Box is also easy to unzip and has an easy to clean interior.
4. Water bottle. Whether you’re sending a juice box or not, it’s a good idea to always send a bottle of water and one that doesn’t leak is a must! Whatever water bottle is your child’s favourite will do or you can get them one that’s just for preschool. The Heir uses a Mackenzie Water Bottle from Pottery Barn Kids that matches his lunch box. These Contigo water bottles are a great option too.
5. Easy open snack containers. There’s one little thing I learned during those preschool open house days that I haven’t yet mentioned. I packed a snack for The Heir for those open house days, just so he would get a chance to practice opening up his lunch box and his snacks at the preschool table to see what that would be like. I packed his apple slices in this super cute special kids snack container that I bought just for preschool. He struggled to open it, and when he did apple slices flew EVERYWHERE. Clearly, that container just wouldn’t do. So my advice for snack containers for preschool is twofold. First, keep it simple. One of the small round Rubbermaid containers from that monster pack of containers they sell at Costco did the trick. Second, have your child practice opening the container at home without your help before sending them off to preschool with it.
6. Play clothes. It’s preschool, not a fashion show, so unless it’s picture day The Heir is wearing clothing that he can get messy in. You should fully expect your child to come home covered in paint, glue, glitter, and food stains, so only send him in outfits that can handle the mess.
7. Change of clothes. I mentioned that kids get messy at preschool, but sometimes accidents happen. For that reason, you want to pack a change of clothes in your child’s backpack. I packed a t-shirt, a pair of sweat pants, a pair of socks, and two pairs of underwear in a wet bag, and kept that at the bottom of The Heir’s backpack for the entire year. It never came out of the backpack, so I didn’t have to remember to grab it and pack it during the mad dash to leave the house on time. If you’re looking for a great wet bag for this purpose, I particularly like the Funky Fluff double pocket wet bag or the Planet Wise medium wet bag. Both are available to purchase from Lagoon Baby in Canada or Nicki’s Diapers in the USA.
8. Indoor Shoes. The Heir’s preschool isn’t particularly picky about shoes, but they do need to be dry. If it’s raining or there’s snow on the ground, the kids need to leave their boots at the door and switch into dry shoes. On those days, I pack his shoes in his backpack and he switches into them when we arrive at school. I know some preschools require that the child have dedicated indoor shoes and dedicated outdoor shoes. If that’s the case, keep the indoor shoes in the child’s back pack whenever they aren’t at school. The last thing you want is for someone (I won’t name names) to take your child out in the rain in their dedicated indoor shoes the night before a preschool day… For footwear, I opt for a running shoe with a basic velcro closure. Make sure the shoes are something your child can get on and off by themselves.
9. Label everything! You know where you can get great vests/jackets/boots for preschool aged kids? Costco! You know where 75% of the other preschool moms shop? Costco! The Heir took home someone else’s down vest one time, and I hadn’t even noticed until one of the preschool moms handed me the very same vest with The Heir’s name in it. Turns out, our kids had swapped vests and neither of us even noticed for weeks! You’ll need to label almost everything your child takes to preschool. The lost & found bins at The Heir’s preschool were empty on day one, and OVERFLOWING within two weeks. Now, The Heir’s preschool is attached to an elementary school, so I imagine a good amount of the lost & found items came from the older kids. However, there were many days where the preschool teacher would come out holding someone’s hoodie or jacket that was unclaimed at pick up time. It doesn’t matter what labeling method you go with, just get some labels or make some labels or grab a sharpie, and make sure anything that might come off your child at some point during the day has their name on it. I labeled jackets, vests, hoodies, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, shoes, boots, the lunch box, the water bottle, the snack containers, the back pack… Basically everything. I use Mabel’s Labels, and they’ve been great!
10. Always have rain boots. It may not be raining, but if there’s a puddle anywhere near the preschool, your child will find it and jump in it. Repeatedly. I learned the hard way to always keep The Heir’s rain boots in the car just in case. If the grass outside the school was wet when we arrived for drop off, you can bet I was bringing those boots in for The Heir to switch into for pick up. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep a spare pair of pants in the car too, because, well, mud puddles.
I think that pretty well covers it! Don’t forget to plan something nice and relaxing for yourself to do during those precious preschool hours! If dropping your child off leaves you kid free for a couple hours, embrace it! Take a yoga class or spend that time at your favourite coffee shop all alone! Better yet, make a standing coffee date with a friend! If you’ve still got littles to look after during preschool time, try to find a library class or swim class that you can do with the baby! Or just revel in the bliss that is having only one child with you when you’re used to spending every waking moment with two (or more)!
Is there anything else you’d add to this list? What kinds of items did you find necessary for your child’s preschool experience?