When it comes to the first day of preschool, it’s safe to say that we as parents may be more nervous and apprehensive than our child! It’s tough to let our little one out into the “real world,” but deep down we understand it’s what’s best for their development. If you’re second-guessing yourself, know that there are so many advantages of enrolling kids in pre-kindergarten, including academic readiness, a reduced chance that they’ll repeat a grade in elementary school and a better ability to handle both school and peers socially and emotionally as the years go by.
Now that you’re feeling a little better, we want to make you and your son or daughter as ready for the transition as possible! The list below provides you with what you’ll need to have before you meet the teacher. The items will not only help your child succeed in class, but they’ll make them feel a little more comfortable, too.
1. Extra Clothing
You never know what’s going to happen in the classroom, in the bathroom or on the playground! If it’s time to buy toddler clothing essentials like tops, pants and outfit sets, make sure you do it now. Some schools will stow away a couple of outfits for you in case of an accident or mishap, while others will require you to add a pair of socks, pants and a shirt to the backpack each day or week. Make sure the garments you choose are appropriate for the temperature outside and that you add extra seasonal items like a jacket, hat or gloves.
While you focus on providing your child with cute outfits, don’t forget to pack another pair or two of underwear, since they will probably be changed out most often. Stay in close contact with the teacher so you know when your child uses something. That way, you can always replenish the next morning. This strategy is a lifesaver for when you are having a busy day at work.
2. A Comfortable Backpack
A backpack is essential for every preschooler. It will not only hold their meals and supplies but also their homework and teacher reports. While you’ll need to fit a few different supplies in there, make sure the backpack you buy is as ergonomic and lightweight as possible. It’s tempting to buy a style that will last the test of time, but a proper fit is essential for avoiding back pain and bodily discomfort. If it lasts a full year, you’re doing well.
Your son or daughter will probably want a pack with their favorite design or cartoon character. That’s fine, but also consider whether it sits at a length no longer than from their shoulders to their waist. Ensure the straps have enough padding and consider a style that is easy to wipe off or throw in the laundry.
3. Lunch—and Snacks!
The next most important item to pack is your little one’s lunch! While you’ll want to refer to your preschool’s handbook on the type of hard lunchbox or soft bag to buy, make sure you get one that is well-insulated and easy-to-clean. If the product doesn’t come with little containers inside of it, it’s a wise idea to purchase small packages for small items like raisins and cereal. If there’s room, you can also add an ice pack to keep perishable foods cool.
When drumming up your weekly menu, go with lunches that are easy to eat and hold. Sandwiches, carrots and apple slices are nutritious and convenient options. Pretzel sticks, juice boxes, and graham crackers are additional popular choices. Many parents also like to pack a small bottle of water. It’ll help keep your kid hydrated beyond drinking their favorite lemonade or a citrus beverage.
If the lunchbox is stocked full, you can place their snacks in a zipped, throwaway bag or a reusable package. Should the school have multiple snack times per day, make sure you’re including more than one option. Vary the munchies so they’re not the same as the ones your child eats for lunch. Different selections will make them more likely to eat them. Healthy choices include yogurt, popcorn and trail mix. You can also pack a smoothie, apple sauce or pieces of cheese. Read the school’s rules carefully for foods your kid may not be able to bring. Some academies have banned nuts to avoid mix-ups with food allergies.
4. Essential Nap Time Gear
Naptime is a component of nearly every preschool. While some facilities will provide rest mats or cots, you should be prepared to send your own mat and blanket. Specialty kids’ nap mats are available online and at most box stores. Some thicker yoga mats are also appropriate. Make sure your child tests the item ahead of time and that they find it comfortable for lying down or catching a few z’s.
The blanket you choose should be appropriate for the season. Send fleece or flannel during the colder months and then change to cotton or muslin when it’s warmer outside. Ask the teacher if they remind the kids to bring their blanket back home every so often for washing. If not, you may have to go into the classroom once a month to pick the garment up so you can throw it in the laundry with your weekend wash.
5. School Supplies
The amount of supplies you’ll need to take on the first day depends on the school. Carefully check the parent supply list and then pack your own plastic bag or backpack with the necessary crayons, glue sticks or construction paper. That way, you ensure everything gets to the room, and you’re not adding it to the weight on your little one’s back.
Each child will most likely keep the supplies in their desk or cubby. Some academies will go alternative and have parents share the supply list. One person will buy several art pads, while another will grab several boxes of tissues. If you get to choose what to buy for the class, make sure it’s easy to pick up ahead of time and within your budget.
6. A Beloved Comfort Item
A comfort item is critical on the first day of school. While your child will feel more secure with their favorite teddy or blanket nearby, you’ll also feel better that they’re coping like they should. Show them you’re putting it in their backpack as you do it. Tell them they can take Mr. Furry or Blankie with them to class so they can show them how a big girl or boy learns at preschool. Most preschool teachers are compassionate and will allow them to have their favorite item out with them, especially in the first days and weeks of adjustment.
If your child could possibly damage or lose the item at school, consider buying them a duplicate—or have them take their second favorite choice. If their beloved purple hippo becomes unstuffed or they misplace their sweet doll, you will both suffer for it in the long term. Tell them their fave will be there for cuddling as soon as they get home. In the meantime, they can show another plush the preschool ropes.
Being Prepared for the First Day—and Everything After
While these are the most basic necessities every preschooler requires, don’t forget to add must-have medications to your checklist. Like the art supplies, you’ll need to take the inhaler or allergy pen in yourself to give to the teacher or school nurse. Once everything is packed and you’re on the way to school, give yourself a mental high five. You’re on your way to surviving the first day—and thriving every day after that.
Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you’ve found these tips useful for your little one’s first day of preschool. L starts preschool next month!