Preschool is a fun setting for young children to help them prepare for school. It mainly involves learning through play, and children will learn some basic elements of numeracy and literacy, such as identifying letters, counting etc.
In this article, let’s look at what child should be prepared to bring to preschool. However, it’s probably worth checking with your child’s preschool first as they often have different requirements.
Here are 17 things your child may need to bring to their preschool. This list is by no means exhaustive so if there is anything I’ve missed please let me know in the comments below.
First and foremost you need a backpack to put your child’s things in. There are lots of options to choose from based on your budget, requirements and of course, the design! It is well worth investing in a quality bag that will last at least a couple of years. Your child is likely to be in preschool for 1-2 years and as you know, children are tough on their belongings. A strong, durable backpack will take all your little one can throw at it (sometimes even literally)!
Think about the size of the backpack too. Your child needs to be able to put it on and carry it themselves, yet it also must be spacious enough to fit all of their things in. Look for a medium sized child’s bag with a side pocket for their water bottle. When it comes to design, it’s up to you whether you choose it or let your child pick. Some parents find children enjoy being part of the decision making process and it gets them excited about starting preschool.
Lunch bag or box
If your child will be taking lunch to preschool they need a lunch bag or box. Check your school’s guidelines for this one, but some general advice is to choose a lunch bag that fits the lunch box or other containers you will use. Many lunch bags come with insulating pouches or room for an ice pack – this is a must during warm summers to keep food fresh. It’s important for a lunch bag or box to have a handle too. Your child will need to carry it into preschool.
Once you’ve narrowed down what features you’d like a lunch bag to have, it’s time for the fun bit. Pick a design that you and your child like and add some extra fun to lunch time!
Lunch and/or snacks
Now you have the lunch bag, it’s time to fill it. Follow the guidelines your preschool provides on packaging as well as information on what foods to avoid and include. Don’t forget any utensils your child will need to eat their yummy lunch.
We all know hydration is key, especially for busy, young children who run and play non-stop. Your child will probably need a full water bottle that is spill proof and easy for them to use by themselves. Again, do check your preschool’s advice on this one. Some preschools will provide drinks and others will expect you to bring a bottle.
When you go to buy a water bottle check the seal, size and how easy it is to clean. Metal, insulated bottles can help keep drinks cold, however they dent easily. Plastic bottles can warm up contents quickly, but are more resilient when dropped or thrown around. That being said, both kinds do the job.
Change of clothes
Pack a full change of clothes for your child every day they go to preschool including underwear and socks. Children tend to get messy and wet as they learn and play at preschool and they may need to change during the day. Plus, there is a chance they will have a potty accident and need to freshen up. Pack clothes that they can pull up themselves and are easy to put on. Preschools encourage children to dress themselves as much as possible to develop independence, so leave the outfit with all the poppers and ties for the weekend!
Reusable plastic bag
Throw a reusable plastic bag in your child’s backpack to bring home any wet, messy or soiled clothing. This will make sure the rest of their things stay dry and protect the backpack itself. Then, when you get home you can throw the contents right into the machine!
It’s likely that your child will play outside come rain or shine and so rain boots are a must. Some preschools ask parents to leave a pair at the site so they are always ready for use. If not, you can simply bring them in on rainy days.
Since children are usually outside in all weathers when they attend preschool a good set of waterproof clothing is important. Decide whether an all-in-one rain suit or separate pants and a jacket suit your child best then add them to your daily packing list. Check that any waterproof clothing you buy has taped seams to make them most effective. And it helps when you can throw them in the washing machine from time to time so check the labels.
Pack a warm hat, gloves and perhaps a snood (preschools prefer these to scarves that can get caught and pulled) in the late fall and winter. Then swap these out for a sunhat and sunscreen as the weather warms up in the spring and summer.
Some preschools ask children to pack indoor shoes that they can bring each day or leave at preschool. The idea of indoor shoes is to keep floors clean and hygienic. Outdoor shoes can then be used to explore beyond the classroom.
Some preschools encourage children to take a comfort item like a stuffed animal with them to help with settling in. Others will ask you explicitly not to bring anything like this to avoid it getting lost or broken. Check your preschool’s advice and follow your gut on this one. You may not want your child to take a toy yourself and that is okay. Sometimes a comfort item really can help a child and is worth packing.
Diapers, wipes, pull ups etc.
Some preschools provide diaper changing supplies and others will ask you to bring them with you. If you are required to pack them each day, make sure you put two or three diapers/pull ups and a pack of wet wipes in your child’s bag. Check at the end of each day and resupply as needed. Some children won’t need diapers or pull ups at all, but it is worth packing an extra set of underwear in case they need it.
You will have already told your preschool ahead of time about any medications your child takes or needs in case of an emergency. Each preschool has their own guidance on how to pack and deliver medications so check their information carefully.
Have a look at your preschool’s information and check whether you’ll need to pack art supplies. Usually this will include items like a smock, crayons or markers.
Tissues, chapstick, hand soap etc.
There are times of year when your child might have a runny nose due to a slight cold or allergies and want a tissue. Or perhaps they have sensitive skin and benefit from a specific hand soap. Chapstick is helpful for some children too. Pack anything like this that your child will need. The preschool will have some items, but not all and they will thank you for thinking ahead.
Nap time supplies
If your child will nap at preschool you may need to bring in a comforter, sheet or pillowcase. Some preschools have nap supplies and you’ll only need to remember your little one’s comfort toy!
Some child care settings in the USA still require face masks for children at different times of year. They will let you know their policy and you can pack accordingly.
Finally, it is crucial to LABEL EVERYTHING! Children are prone to putting their things back in the wrong spot or mix them in with other children’s things. Use a good quality stick on labels, a stamp or a special fabric marker to put their full name in each item you send to preschool. This way even if your child does misplace something, it can be returned to you later on. It is frustrating as a parent to continually replace items for preschool and good labels really do keep your things coming back to you.
Unfortunately this still happens with my daughter all the time and she’s 6! She’s constantly losing or misplacing something all the time, whether it’s one of her cardigans, water bottles or jumpers.
At first glance this list might feel daunting to you, but before long packing for preschool will become second nature. It helps to check your child’s bag the night before and pack or top up supplies to save time in the morning. Anything that makes leaving the house easier with children is a win!
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Anna is a mum of three who loves exploring the outdoors with her family and border collie. She has an MA in Childhood and Youth Development.