Now that your little one is not so little anymore, the big day has finally arrived where they complete their transition from baby to toddler to big kid – and that is, their first day at preschool.
This is a pretty big step and can be pretty stressful for parent and child alike, leaving many pretty apprehensive and mixed emotions. It’s not uncommon to think that your child isn’t ready to leave you and start making their way into the world of academia on their own, but don’t despair; these feelings will soon pass, and while there might be a few first-day jitters, these will soon pass.
But starting big school isn’t as easy as just turning up – first, you have to find a school and enroll, then start putting together all the essentials they’ll need to get them through their days at preschool. This is our article’s point to help, to make the preparation for your little one’s first day at school easier by providing you with a handset of tips and suggestions to get ready for it.
To help make the first day of preschool go as smoothly for you and your little one, we’ve put together a list of essential tips, tricks, and ideas, which will help you better prepare for this pretty significant milestone in your child’s development.
14 essentials to prepare for your child’s first day of preschool
So, without any further ado – let’s jump right into our top 14 essential tips to help you prepare for your little one’s first day at preschool.
1. Before anything else, you’ll need a backpack to put everything in
The first step before doing anything else is to invest in an good mini dinosaur backpack for your toddler. This is because you’ll need somewhere for them to keep and carry all of their daily preschool essentials, along with any homework, completed art projects, or school notices they’re sent home with.
When picking out a cute backpack for your little one, keep in mind that while it can’t be too big – as they’re yet to develop the neck and back strength to carry too much – it does need to be big enough to stuff in their lunch, water, and other snacks, an extra set of clothing, and a few other essentials.
You’ll also want to consider comfort – as the best backpack for your child is one that they’ll wear, and the one that they wear will be not only super cool and fun but also comfortable to wear.
2. Pack a healthy lunch and plenty of snacks to last the day
Although some schools may provide meals and snacks for your little one throughout the day, most don’t – so be sure to prepare and pack plenty of food to help your child get through school without going hungry.
Before you do anything else, it’s always best to check with the school ahead of time to see if they have any recommendations or even banned food items. It’s not uncommon for products containing nuts and other food items that present issues for common food allergies to be prohibited altogether, so it’s always safest to ask first.
As you’ll be packing a lunch every day, you’ll want to invest in a proper dinosaur lunch box – along with extra leak-proof containers, insulated bags, a set of utensils, and even an ice pack to keep fresh items chilled in the morning before lunchtime. It’s worth practicing how to open and close these items with your little one before sending them off to preschool with them to avoid any difficulty or frustration they might encounter if they struggle to use them.
3. An easy-open, spill-proof water bottle is a must-have item
Your little one will be pretty active throughout their day at preschool, which makes getting somewhere to put all the water, juice, and other liquids in is an absolute must-have, essential bit of kit. Make sure to pick one out that’s leak-proof – as the last thing you want is liquids spilling inside their little backpack, ruining all its contents and leaving you with the job of constantly washing their pack as a result.
There are plenty of options to choose from – whether you decided to opt for a sippy cup or a dinosaur water bottle. Generally, you’ll want to choose a plastic one – as these are lighter, making them easier to use – as well as any that have a built-in straw, which makes them far easier to use without causing a mess.
Whether you choose a water bottle or a sippy cup, the most important thing is to pick out one they can easily use, preventing them from getting frustrated – as this won’t be great, given how often they’ll need to use it throughout the day to stay hydrated.
4. Pack an extra set of clothing for those unavoidable accidents or mishaps
As all good parents know, toddlers are mess magnets, and it never hurts to have a change of clothes on hand. Preschool is no different – in fact, there are probably far more opportunities for mess in the classroom than outside of it – so be sure to have some ready.
Even if your little one has been potty trained for a while – it’s not unusual for accidents to happen – making a change of clothing an absolute godsend when they do. And it’s not just bathroom accidents either; preschool can be a messy place – there are plenty of things that can ruin a set of clothes, from painting, lunchtime, or simply playing (and falling) outside in wet, muddy conditions.
You don’t need to pack an extra change of clothing in your little one’s backpack each and every day they go to school. Most preschools will have a locker or cubby specifically for your child to use, which is a great place to stash a few extra outfits at the start of each term.
5. Pack plenty of diapers, wipes, and cream – all the nappy changing essentials
If your child isn’t yet fully potty-trained, you’re going to need to bring plenty of diapers, wipes, and cream to preschool, giving teachers and staff everything they need to keep your little one clean and dry throughout the day. For children of this age, they’ll likely just need to use diapers during nap times – so you won’t need to bring packs and packs of them – just enough for the odd change and, in fact, if you can keep them for your little one at school, that’s even better.
Like a change of clothing – you’ll need to include all these essential changing items, even if your little one is potty trained, as, at this age, accidents are almost certainly going to happen. And while you might not need to include the diapers, it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of extra pairs of underwear on hand for when these unfortunate incidents occur.
It’s also a good idea to include some hand sanitizer, as preschool can be a breeding ground for germs. So to ensure good hygiene and prevent them from bringing home any unwanted bugs or illness, it’s worthwhile both getting some sanitizer and getting your little one into the habit of using it.
6. During the winter months, be sure to pick up appropriate seasonal outwear
If you don’t have one already, go out and buy your little one a proper winter coat, as depending on where you live, it can get pretty cold during the winter. You’ll also want to invest in a pair of gloves, a scarf, and a warm beanie, for greater protection from the cold.
Most preschools will let their little students spend time outdoors – even when it’s cold – so it’s important to pay close attention to the weather so that you can adequately prepare them for the day ahead.
For example, if it’s particularly chilly one day, wrap them in more layers, or if it’s going to be sunny, send them to school wearing a hat to provide better protection from the sun.
7. Pack a comfortable pair of indoor shoes or slippers
Before sending your little one off to preschool, be sure to check if they have any footwear policies, as it’s not uncommon for schools to request that children wear shoes designed specifically for indoor use when they’re in the classroom.
If you already have an appropriate pair of dinosaur slippers for your toddler – that’s great; you’ll just need to pack them with all their other school essentials. That said, they’re pretty inexpensive, so it doesn’t hurt to have two pairs – one for home and one for school – if the latter gets lost.
On that point – and something we’ll cover later on in this article – make sure to sew in a label so that when (not if!) your child’s indoor shoes disappear, they’ll be a lot easier to find, saving you the trouble and additional expense of having to replace them frequently.
8. Pack blankets, bedding, or sleeping bags, so they’re prepared for nap times
If you’ve enrolled your little one in a preschool that lasts for a full day, there will definitely be a naptime break. While some preschools will provide naptime essentials, others won’t, so you may need to go out and pick up a few sleeping essentials for use at school.
It’s always a good idea to ask your preschool what they provide and what they don’t, giving you a list of items you’ll need to go out and pick up before they start. Some preschools equip their classrooms with beds, bedding, and other sleep essentials, while others may expect you to provide a rest mat, bedding, dinosaur sleeping bag, and blanket – so always check beforehand.
Another consideration would be if your child still uses a pacifier, as you’ll want to make sure you provide the preschool with plenty of extras in case they get lost, preventing any naptime troubles when it can’t be found.
9. Pack a comfort item from home
The first day at preschool can be pretty intimidating. And it doesn’t really matter how good of a job you’ve done as a parent finding the right school; they’ll likely experience a few jitters on the first day – which is perfectly normal. An easy way to get them through it is to have their favorite comfort item on hand, helping them to feel more secure and comfortable as they make this pretty big step in their development from toddler to big kid.
Don’t overthink it – a cute stuffed animal or a comfort blanket will do the trick – just so long as it’s small enough to fit in their backpack. Keep in mind that it might never come out, as your little one may feel more at ease and emotionally confident on their first day of preschool just knowing that it’s there if they need it.
It’s also a good idea to have two comfort items – or even two of the same. This is in case they forget to bring it home with them, as you want to avoid any full-blow disasters at bedtime because they can’t find their favorite dinosaur plush toy or dinosaur blanket.
10. Pencils, crayons, brushes, and aprons – pack plenty of art supplies
One of the preschool classroom’s main staples are fun art projects – your little one will do plenty of them and bring home their artwork for you on a near-daily basis.
Crayons, colored pencils, paintbrushes, and aprons or paint smocks are all things your child will likely need to use throughout the day at preschool.
This is another one to check with your preschool ahead of time to see what art supplies they supply and which they don’t. This will ensure that you can stock up on things they require you to pick up, sending your little one to school prepared.
11. Whatever time of year, sunscreen is a must
At this age, your child will be spending plenty of time outside while they’re at preschool, playing in the yard on recess breaks, and lunchtime with all their little friends.
As they’re going to be outside a fair bit, you’ll want to make sure that they’re adequately protected from the sun – which means sending them to school with an ample supply of sunblock.
It’s important to remember that this is just as important in the summer months as it is in the winter – as just because it isn’t hot outside, this doesn’t mean that harmful UV rays won’t make their way to your little one’s skin.
12. Pack any necessary medications and their instructions
If your little one regularly takes any medications, you’ll want to make sure that you pack it and explain to the teachers how it is taken – including how often, times of day, and amounts.
Generally, most preschools will follow a protocol of following instructions found printed on medication labels. Still, it never hurts to have a chat about it to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
This would also be a good time to alert teachers to any other medical conditions that they should be aware of, which could present themselves throughout the day of preschool. Most teachers and staff are incredibly sympathetic to the needs of you, your child, and your family, so don’t feel embarrassed or be reluctant to have these discussions.
13. Pack a handy emergency card with all your contact info listed
Another good idea is to include an emergency card. If you’re unfamiliar, this is essentially a piece of thick card that you write down all your emergency contact information on, just in case something happens and they find themselves separated from the rest of the class.
You’ll want to use a permanent marker for this and include as much information as possible – including your child’s name, your name, phone numbers, and home address.
Put the card in a small, resealable bag to prevent it from getting damaged in wet weather, and place it in the front pocket of your little one’s backpack. While you hope it never comes up, it could be incredibly useful one day if anything unfortunate were to happen.
14. Label everything!
If you know anything about young children, you’ll know that they’re pretty skilled at losing and misplacing things.
At preschool, this is amplified thanks to all the other children who might accidentally pick up your little one’s things and bring them home with them.
This makes it necessary to label everything! Sewing in name tags on jackets and coats, backpacks, aprons – and pretty much whatever else you can, as this will help to prevent you from having to invest more money replacing these lost items throughout the year.
Starting preschool can be tough for child and parent alike – but as time goes by and your little one gets used to and starts enjoying the time they spend with all their little friends at school, it’ll get a lot easier.
It’s quite common for parents going through the transition to big kid school for the first time to have plenty of mixed emotions, with many feeling that they aren’t yet ready to send their child off to school – but don’t worry, you’re not alone! Within a matter of months, it’ll become routine.
But that said, it’s best not to dwell on it too much – instead, focus your efforts on prepping for the big day, making sure your little one has everything they need to make it through the school day as easily as possible, picking up everything they need well ahead of time.
This is a big step for you and your child, and we hope that this article has helped to make things a little easier for you, giving you everything you need to get your child ready for their first day of preschool.