Getting ready to send your little one off to preschool? Here's a checkllst to make sure he's fully equipped for his new adventure!
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Make sure you have enough clothing that:
1) still fits;
2) is "play" appropriate (e.g. can get stained/dirty and be easily cleaned...trust us, even "washable paints" don't always come out, so don't send your child to school in anything that you would cry over); and
3) will allow your child to be as independent as possible (e.g. pull-up pants to help them use the toilet independently, velcro shoes instead of shoelaces).
Also keep in mind that many preschools prohibit open-toed shoes for safety reasons, so make sure you have a pair of high-quality closed-toe shoes that fits and will stand up to many hours of playground play.
If your child will be staying for lunch, an insulated lunch bag is key. Choose something large enough to fit whatever lunch box or food storage containers you plan to use, a beverage container, and an ice pack.
Lunch box or other food storage
Anything will do the job in a pinch, but consider getting something that your preschooler will be able to easily manage by himself. A one-piece lunch box with multiple compartments that is easy to open and close — such as a Yumbox, Planetbox, BentGo, or EasyLunchbox — is a great choice. If you plan to send milk to school, also get an insulated drink container to help it stay cool.
One of these may be helpful to carry all of your child's belongings back and forth — but you don't necessarily need one. Consider what you'll actually need to bring back and forth each day, and check out your kid's designated cubby space at school to see if one will even fit. Many parents find it easier to just carry their child's lunch bag back and forth each day, and leave any extras (such as a change of clothing in a ziploc bag) in their child's cubby semi-permanently. If you do decide you need to get a backpack (or your child is just too excited not to get one), be sure to get one sized for preschoolers, not bigger kids.
Nap mat, sheets, blanket, and/or lovey
If your child will be staying through naptime, ask the preschool what you need to provide. Larger, more institutionalized programs will often provide each child with a nap mat/cot and sheet, and will only ask you to send a blanket. Smaller (e.g. in-home) programs may ask you to provide everything. You may also want to consider bringing a lovey or other comfort object to help your child feel at home.
Preschools may or may not request contributions (e.g. arts & crafts supplies) from parents. Even if you're not specifically asked, your school is sure to appreciate anything you care to share. :)
If it will be your child's first year at preschool, particularly if he hasn't experienced any other group setting regularly before, you may find it helpful to get him used to the idea with a book. Here's one of our favorites, which will help your little one learn what to expect and realize that you'll always be there for him at the end of the day!
Here's to a wonderful year of fun, friends, and new discoveries for your little one!