Preschool prep is a big deal, whether your child was in daycare or not. This is the stage they start learning and forming the foundation for academic success. It is no wonder so many parents get a bit freaked out about sending their little ones to preschool.
One way to make the transition easy for your child and yourself is to be prepared. Do they have everything they need? From general school supplies to basic needs, you will be at peace knowing your child is comfortable while away from you.
Ideally, the teacher and the school will give you a rundown of everything you need to provide, so you don’t have to guess. However, we find that it helps to visit the school and get acquainted with the facilities your child will be using. Sitting down with the teacher will also give you more ideas about your role as a parent in that setting.
But before we look at the preschool checklist, how do you know your child is ready for preschool?
Preschool Prep: Is Your Child Ready?
Most states have a guideline of when kids should join preschool, usually when your kid hits 3 to 4 years. But since children develop at different rates, you must decide the right time for your child. It's helpful to learn to recognize the cues.
Learning specialists suggest these guidelines:
–Can your child follow a routine (feeding, sleeping)?
–Can they follow instructions?
–Are they able to calm themselves down if upset?
–Can they sit and listen for at least 10 minutes?
–Can they engage in imaginative play? Can they express themselves to a teacher or a fellow pupil?
–Do they know how to use the potty?
–Do they play with other kids and share?
–Can they speak sentences and sing songs?
–Can they hold a pencil or a marker?
–Do they sit in a chair and feed themselves from a sippy cup or plate?
If your child can handle the above, the teacher will show them everything else they need to learn academically.
With that out of the way, let’s jump into the checklist.
Essential Preschool Prep Checklist
Again, pre-school is the beginning of academic training. Preschool prep includes notebooks, pencils, erasers, paper, a folder, a ruler, and a pencil sharpener. The teacher will specify how many of each item you should buy, and any other specifics required.
Art is how preschoolers learn everything from math to language. They draw, sketch, color, and paint. It’s important, therefore, to provide art supplies such as crayons, markers, colored pencils, baby scissors, smock, eraser market, play dough, and glue. But, again, the teacher will tell you if they provide these things in school and, if not, what you need to buy.
Extra Clothes and Shoes
Here’s the thing–your child will spill food or water on themselves, fall when playing outside, and probably even wet their pants now and then. When this happens, you want them to have a change of clothes, including clean underwear, so the teacher can change them. Pack the extra clothes in a zip lock bag where the messy or wet clothes will go too after the change. When considering clothing needs for school, unless you enjoy doing laundry multiple times a week, plan on 6-7 of everything: tops, pants, underwear, socks, sweaters, etc. Rain jacket and rainboots where needed, mittens, hats, and any other gear appropriate to the weather where you live. Of course, we recommend secondhand clothing for preschoolers. It’s sustainable and much lower cost than buying new.
Still considering extra things, make sure you pack extra shoes as well. Many pre-school classes are set up the Montessori way, meaning there are carpets on the floor, and kids sit and do everything there. For this reason, schools will request you buy indoor shoes like crocs or sandals to keep the class clean. Your child will only wear normal shoes when going home or playing outside.
Tissues and Wet Wipes
Kids are messy, and they need constant cleaning. One of the things schools ask for is tissues for toilet use and for wiping kids’ runny noses and dirty hands. However, you should add a pack of wet wipes in their backpack to make clean-up easier. While we recommend washing hands to get rid of dirt and kill germs, subjecting kids to water cleanout many times a day may be too much. A quick clean-up with wet wipes will do just fine a lot of the time.
For schools where kids take naps after lunch, there are a few things you should provide. Ideally, the school already has cots or mattresses and bed sheets. You will provide a clean blanket for your child and probably a comfort item like a stuffed animal to help them fall asleep. Confirm this with the teacher because some schools provide everything a child needs for nap time.
Lastly, everything you have bought for preschool prep needs to be organized and stored safely. The first thing you need to buy is a backpack that’s big enough to fit the lunch box, water, books and change of clothes. However, it shouldn’t be so big that your baby is struggling to carry it on their back. For this age, a rolling backpack may be too cumbersome as well.
After a backpack, get an organization tool for the pencils and other art supplies. A pouch or plastic pencil box will be handy to ensure your child doesn’t lose small items. Also, it’s easier to organize and find everything when it’s in a pouch instead of just throwing them in the backpack.
If the school doesn’t provide lunch and snacks, get a well-insulated lunch box. Pack lunch in a thermos flask to stay warm until and get a separate plastic container for snacks. Speaking of lunch, get a spill-proof water bottle or two while at it. Your child needs to stay hydrated throughout the day, so you should pack water, juice, and milk if it’s allowed.
For organizational purposes, get a bento box that has compartments for the lunch box, water bottle, snack box, and ice pack.
One thing about the preschool prep checklist is that every school is different. Some will provide almost everything, and you’ll only need a backpack and water bottle. The important thing is to visit the school and find out more. More importantly, remember to label everything you buy for your child, especially the backpack, school sweaters/jackets, shoes, blanket, and lunch items. Use indelible marks, thread, or iron-on patches to label everything since kids aren’t responsible enough yet to keep track of their things.