Just because it’s “pre” doesn’t mean it’s not “school.” Yes, preschoolers will need gear to get them ready for the new year just as much as school-aged kids will. But what?
My son, now 4-and-a-half, is heading into kindergarten, but spent the last year at preschool. Needless to say, in preparation for his first day, I looked into what he would need to get going. Here are the items I found to be essential.
You’ll want one that’s small enough for a small child to carry on his own, but also spacious enough to fit the necessities, namely an extra pair of clothes, bottle of water, and lunch
bag. The child-sized Green Sprouts Green Crocodile Backpack is a cute option. The design is distinctive enough that your child’s bag won’t get lost among others in the class. The magnetic closure will make it easy for your child to open and close it, and a drawstring protects items inside. If you want something a little bigger, consider the Zoocchini Shark Backpack, which has separate pockets to hold things like pencils, snacks, and a water bottle. There’s even a spot on the back for writing your child’s name, or sticking on a label.
Lunch pack and containers
Get ones that are easy to open and close without help from the teachers. Look for a set with compartments to keep food separate, but that is sized appropriately to fit inside a child’s small lunch bag.
Keep in mind that you aren’t just sending him off to school with a sandwich, side, and drink: if you’re talking about full-day preschool, there will likely be one or two snack periods as well.
The Boon Butterfly Bento Lunch Box includes a removable divided container for smaller items, like fruits, raisins, or other healthy snacks. Because it’s removable, you can also shift it over to the edge if you want to fit in a small sandwich. A stretchy silicone band on the top can hold cutlery. Plus, it comes with its own reusable ice pack.
If, like me, you decide to grab separate lunch containers to pop into a lunch bag, you can buy small-sized ice packs to keep items like cheese, yogurt, and fruits cold for the few hours until lunch.
For little ones attending half-day preschool who will be home for lunch, you can simply get a small snack box, like the Boon Trunk, which has divided compartments to keep snacks separate. And it has its own handle so your child can carry it himself.
Don’t skimp on the water bottle. Look for a good-quality one with a cover that will keep water cool and fresh all day, and an easy-to-drink spout or built-in straw. Also, consider how easy it is to clean since your child will be using it at least five days per week.
Unless the school provides meals, you’ll need to send your little one off with lunch each day. And there’s only so much ham and cheese and PB&J a little one can eat. It’s actually quite easy to pack hot meals. I typically make extras during the previous night’s dinner,
whether it’s pasta with sauce or noodles with chicken and vegetables, and pop some into the refrigerator in a microwavable container. The next morning, I reheat it, throw it into a Thermos, and voila, piping hot and nutritious lunch.
At the preschool level, most schools still have nap, or at least quiet, time when the kids lay down for some rest and, hopefully, a bit of shut eye. You may need to provide your own blanket for them to cover up with, which will be sent home at the end of
each week for laundering.
You’ll want one that’s big enough to fully cover your little one, but compact enough for weekly transport. The aden + anais Classic Dream Blanket might fit the bill. It’s made
of 100% cotton muslin, and comes in a cute jungle theme.
Take this opportunity to grab your child a special stuffed animal that will be just for school naptime use. What better than a cute bunny? The Melissa and Doug Brenna Bunny Rabbit is a perfect cuddly friend for preschool naptime.
Label, label, label EVERYTHING. This includes backpacks, lunch bags, every piece of clothing (both extras and the ones on your child’s back), shoes, accessories, and yes, even that stuffed animal. If any item gets mixed up and the teacher isn’t aware to whom it belongs, it will go straight into the Lost & Found.
Most moms tend to go all-out and grab fancy, pre-made labels. I prefer to use simple blank labels that I can write my son’s name on, and that adhere well to a variety of surfaces. Remember, you don’t want them to come off clothes in the washing machine, or off dishware in the
I used Avery Clothing Labels, which come in a number of sizes, which is convenient. Sometimes, for example, you might only be able to fit a small label with your child’s initials on something like a hat. And they can withstand washing and drying, making them ideal for more than just clothing. Each package comes with three sheets of 15 labels; ideally, you’ll probably need at least 2 or 3 packs to get through the first year. It’s worthwhile, though, to always have extras on hand.
You might not need to supply these for preschool, but it’s a good idea to keep a few at home. Sure, there’s really no need for a preschooler to do “homework.” But a little bit of learning outside of school hours never hurt anyone. And particularly for kids with older siblings, they’ll appreciate having their own “work” to do while the older ones are back in the habit of evening schoolwork.
Chances are, the school will be providing the materials needed for crafting and other activities, but keep a supply at home, too, so your child can continue the creative play at nights and on the weekends. My son has his own “craft box” that contains pencils, pencil crayons, glue, construction paper, scotch tape, and some crafting items so he can create something whenever inspiration arises.
A new wardrobe is mandatory for every new school year, not just so your little one can show off his great fashion sense, but also because they grow so quickly at this age. This means season-appropriate wear as well, like rain boots, winter boots, a snowsuit (that your child can put on and take off himself), winter jacket, hat, gloves, scarf, and splash pants. Kids are often playing outside several times per day during school, which means keeping their clothing protected not just from snow, but also the muddy ground after a rainy day.
Check out plenty more gear for toddlers and preschoolers at Best Buy Online.