What Do I Need for the First Day of Preschool?

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      Speaking from my own experience as a preschool teacher, here are the eight key things you can expect your child to do on that big first day.
      • Cry (possibly). ...
      • Get organized. ...
      • Play. ...
      • Get acquainted. ...
      • Learn (a lot of) rules. ...
      • Listen to a story. ...
      • Draw. ...
      • Leave early.

      The number one most important thing you will need to do in the first few weeks is to begin building trust and relationships with each little learner so they can feel safe and happy. If they feel safe and happy most likely the moms will feel safe and happy leaving their children with you each day.

      There isn't a checklist of must-have skills kids need to start preschool. That's because young children develop at very different rates.

      Getting ready for your child’s first day of preschool is a pretty exciting time, and it can be hard to know where to start. 

      Dropping your child off at preschool can be stressful, of course, regardless of whether your tot has been in daycare for years or at home with a parent. But being fully prepared can go a long way in easing your anxiety.

      If your child is enrolled in a preschool program, chances are you’ve already run through the preschool skills checklist to ensure your little one is developmentally ready. 

      It’s also wise to establish a relationship with the school early on. 

      That might be scheduling a time to tour the school with your child, so he can see where he’ll be spending his days, or even letting your little one spend a couple of hours in the class to see how he does when separated from you. 

      And last but not least, you’ll need to stock up all the essentials your child will need for that first day of school.

      The school will likely provide a checklist of things to bring, but here are the usual items you’ll want to pack for the first day of preschool:

      The Basics


      A durable small backpack works best, but you can also let the child pick her favourite colour or style to get her excited for the first day. Then, place a tag inside the backpack with your child’s name.

      Not only can you pack your child’s backpack with the day’s necessities, but the teachers can also use it to send home artwork and school notices.

      Forms Or Questionnaires

      Your child’s school will most likely ask you to bring a short form that lists any allergies/medications and anything else the teacher should know about your child.

      Complete Change Of Clothes In A Ziploc Bag

      Whether it is because of an accident or messy lunchtime, this change of clothes will surely come in handy sometime during the school year.


      The evolution of the lunchbox has come a long way since workers hauled their food in tobacco tins. A reusable plastic box or nylon bag now works best.

      Towel Or Small Blanket

      If only your child knew how lucky she is to have naptime incorporated into her everyday schedule!

      Two Pencils, Erasers, Pencil Box, And Notebook

      Your future author, architect, or the artist will need some tools to get started.


      Your child can use this folder to bring home notes and memos from the teacher and school.

      Comfort Item

      The school may not allow your child to bring a toy or stuffed animal, but a picture of yourself, your family, or your pet can go a long way in easing your child’s anxiety.

      Lunch/Snack (Nut-free)

      Cheese and crackers, pretzels, fruit, yogurt, a mini bagel, or granola make up a healthy lunch and snack.

      Pack plenty of food, so your kid doesn’t go hungry! You may have to come up with some nut-free options, depending on the school’s food policy.

      Water Bottle

      A reusable spill-proof water bottle will keep your child hydrated while she is constantly on the move.

      Whether it’s a sippy cup or simply something spill-proof, pick a water bottle your child can easily open on her own. Of course, she’ll need to stay hydrated with all that running around!

      Milk Or Juice

      Unless the school provides it, you’ll need to send drinks along with any meals and snacks.

      Tissues/Baby Wipes

      These may be the most requested items from teachers to keep runny noses in check and hands clean.

      Extra Set Of Clothes And Socks

      Preschoolers aren’t known for their careful cleanliness, so pack an extra (seasonally appropriate) outfit, including a second pair of socks.

      Extra Underwear

      Even if your child is potty-trained, accidents are bound to happen.

      Diapers, Wipes And Cream

      If your little one isn’t quite ready for the potty, you’ll need to send along a plentiful stash of diapers, wipes and diaper cream.

      Seasonal Outerwear

      Lots of preschools let the kids enjoy some time outdoors, so pay attention to the weather. Chilly outside? Send your kid in with a coat. Sunny? Pack a hat.

      Indoor Shoes

      Check your school’s policy since some programs prefer kids to wear indoor-only shoes in the classroom to keep things clean.

      Nap Time Essentials

      Some classrooms are equipped with cots, while others ask parents to send a rest mat, sheet and blanket. Ask what should be on your list.

      Comfort Item

      Packing your child’s favourite stuffed animal or another comfort item can help ease preschool jitters. 

      Tip: If forgetting said comfort item at school would lead to a full-blown bedtime disaster, have one for home and one for school, or pick a second-favourite item to pack.

      Art Supplies

      If the school doesn’t supply them, you may need to pack a smock, crayon box, glue sticks and the like.


      Whether it’s winter or summer, the sun’s intense rays can still wreak havoc.

      Any Necessary Medication

      Alert the school ahead of time if your child needs any daily medication or has any allergies.

      How To Prepare Your Toddler For Preschool


      Having Fun With Preschool Prep

      There’s a lot you can do in the weeks before to get ready for the big day. But try to keep your efforts low-key. 

      If you make too big a deal out of this milestone, your child may end up being more worried than excited. So here are some ideas to keep the focus on fun.

      Use Pretend Play To Explore The Idea Of Preschool

      Take turns being the parent, child, and teacher. 

      Act out everyday routines, such as saying goodbye to mommy and daddy, taking off your coat, singing songs, reading stories, having Circle Time, playing outside, and taking naps.

      Reassure your child that a preschool is a good place where she will have fun and learn. 

      Answer her questions patiently. This helps children feel more in control which reduces their anxiety.

      Read Books About Preschool

      There are many books about going to preschool available from the public library in your area. 

      Choose several to share with your child over the summer before school starts. First, talk about the story and how the characters are feeling. Then, ask how your child is feeling.

      Make A Game Out Of Practicing Self-help Skills

      These skills include unzipping her coat, hanging her skin on a hook, putting on her backpack, fastening her shoes. 

      For example, you might want to have a “race” with your child to see how quickly she can put on her shoes. 

      When you play school together, you can give your child the chance to practice taking off her coat, zipping her backpack closed, and sitting “criss-cross applesauce.” 

      If your child brings lunch, pack it up one day before school starts and have a picnic together. 

      This will give her the chance to practice unzipping her lunch box and unwrapping her sandwich—essential skills for the first day!

      Play At Your New Preschool

      Visit your child’s preschool together. Ask when you can tour the school with your child. 

      Play on the school playground a few times before your child starts the program. These visits increase your child’s comfort with and confidence in this new setting.

      Worries And Watching

      Your child may also have some questions or concerns about starting preschool, either before or after he starts in the fall. Help him get ready with these two key strategies:

      Listen To Your Child’s Worries.

      Although it’s tempting to reassure your child and move on quickly, it’s essential to let your child know that his worries have been heard. 

      No matter what they are, big or small, children’s worries about preschool can significantly influence their experience there. For example, will you remember to pick him up in the afternoon? Will his teacher be friendly?

      Let your child know it’s normal to feel happy, sad, excited, scared, or worried. Explain that starting something new can feel scary and that lots of people feel that way. 

      It can be helpful to share a time when you started something new and how you felt. 

      When you allow your child to share her worries, you can help her think through how to deal with them. 

      For example, if she is worried about missing you, the two of you can make a book of family photos to keep in her cubby and look at when she is lonely.

      Notice Nonverbal Messages

      As much as 3-year-olds may talk, most cannot fully explain how they feel or what they are worried about. 

      Your child may “act out” his worry by clinging, becoming withdrawn, or by being more aggressive. 

      Another common reaction as children take a significant move forward is to move backward in other areas. 

      For example, if your child is entirely potty trained, he may start having toileting accidents. As a result, he may ask that you feed or dress him even though he can do these things himself.

      It is natural to be frustrated by this regressed behaviour, and you may be concerned that if you do these things for him, he won’t go back to doing them himself. 

      Letting him play this out often leads to children returning to their “big kid” selves sooner. 

      Remember that your child is facing—and managing—a significant change in his life. As a result, he may need more support, nurturing, and patience from you while he makes this transition.

      The Preschool Countdown: What To Do And When

      The last few weeks before starting preschool seem to fly by! As you begin the countdown to the first day, here are some things to keep in mind:

      During The 2 Weeks Before Preschool Starts:

      Purchase a backpack together with your child. 

      If possible, let your child choose it himself. This gives him a sense of control and emphasises that he is a “big kid” starting preschool.

      Label all items—backpack, jacket, shoes, blanket, teddy bear, etc.—with your child’s name and teacher’s name in permanent ink.

      Contact the preschool’s health professional if your child has medication that they take daily. 

      There will be special rules and forms to fill out for your child to receive medication at school.

      Figure out how your child will get to school and how she will come home. 

      Talk to your child about the morning and afternoon routine so that she understands that she will be safe, okay, and cared for. 

      Make sure your child meets her before- and after-school caregiver if you are using one.

      Start using your child’s “school bedtime.” Children often go to bed later as the summer months and longer days kick in. 

      Would you mind helping your child get into a preschool schedule by keeping to his school bedtime, beginning about two weeks before school starts?

      The Night Before Preschool:

      Answer any last-minute questions from your child.

      Let your child choose (weather- and school-appropriate) clothes for her first day.

      Make sure that your child goes to bed on time.

      Pick a bedtime that gives your child a good night’s rest before the first day. Keep the bedtime routine soothing and relaxing.

      Don’t focus too much (or at all!) on the first day of school unless he wants to.

      The First Day:

      Wake up early enough so that you and your child don’t have to rush to get to preschool.

      Make breakfast for your child and, if possible, sit down to eat together—or at least talk with her as she eats and you get ready.

      Review the day’s routine (what preschool will be like, how your child will get to school/come home).

      Pack your child’s backpack together. For example, if your child is bringing lunch, select foods that you know are his favourites. Having some familiarity on his first day is helpful as he adjusts to so many changes.

      Let your child choose a particular stuffed animal or blanket to bring to school with her. 

      These “loveys” can help children transition from home to school and make naptime easier. 

      You may want to send your child a family photo or favourite book as well. These familiar objects can help if she feels lonely during the day.

      Saying A Good Good-bye

      These strategies can ease the jitters of separating on your child’s first day at preschool.

      Plan To Stay A Little While

      Staying for 15-30 minutes on that first morning can help ease the transition. 

      Together, the two of you can explore the classroom, meet some other children, and play with a few toys. 

      When you see that your child is comfortable, it is time to leave. 

      If he is having a more challenging time getting engaged, you may want to ask your child’s teacher to stay with your child as you say goodbye so that he can turn to another caring adult for support when you leave.

      Keep Your Tone Positive And Upbeat

      Children pick up on the reactions of the trusted adults in their lives. So try not to look worried or sad, and don’t linger too long. 

      Say a quick, upbeat goodbye and reassure your child that all will be well.

      Think About Creating A Special Good-bye Routine


      For example, you can give your child a kiss on the palm to “hold” all day long. Or, the two of you can sing a particular song together before you leave. 

      Good-bye routines are comforting to children and help them understand and prepare for what will happen next.

      Resist The Rescue

      Try not to run back in the classroom if you hear your child crying, as upsetting as this can be. 

      This is a significant change, and your child may, quite understandably, feel sad and a little scared. 

      But if you run back in, it sends the message that he is only okay if you are there, and it is likely to prolong your child’s distress and make it harder for him to adapt. 

      Rest assured, teachers have many years of experience with helping families make the shift to preschool. 

      Instead, you can wait outside the classroom for a few minutes to ensure that all is well or call the school later in the morning to check-in.

      Extra Tips

      Arrive Early.

      Allow enough time for your child to become familiar with the classroom and teacher before you say goodbye.

      Plan The Night Before And Visualise The Day

      Would you mind helping your child know what to expect and let her imagine how her first day will go to get her excited and emotionally ready?

      Don’t Sneak Away

      Even if your child runs off to play with friends, make sure you let her know that you are leaving.

      Practice The Morning Routine

      You can practice getting ready in the morning, packing lunch, and even driving to the school to help your child get a sense of how the morning will go.

      Express Pride

      Let your pre-k student know how proud you are of her even before she takes her first step into the classroom.


      Starting preschool can be challenging for you and your child. But the good news is it’ll get easier, fast. 

      Suppose a preschool provides an appropriate environment, which begins with loving, nurturing teachers and caregivers. In that case, the adjustment period will take no longer than two weeks, when kids will be excited to enter the classroom and engage with their peers!

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