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My 5 Best Tips for Starting Preschool

When we took the the plunge to enroll Fiona in preschool it felt like a monumental decision. (You may or may not know that both Barefoot Farmer and I work full time outside the home, along with our homesteading, so we need full-time childcare.) All of my mental energy had gone into making the decision and selecting the school, I didn’t have much left over to think about just HOW we would go about making this change in our lives.

So I did what any sane person does and crowd sourced ideas. These are the 5 best suggestions I found for starting preschool, with my own twist on them:

  1. A quick list of things to purchase or purloin:
    1. Backpack (small, but not minuscule, you actually want to be able to carry things in it!). We purchased ours from Pottery Barn (size small, not prek). It fits her blanket and sheet every Monday, or a large pack of diapers when it’s time to refill.
    2. Lunchbox (again, appropriately sized for the age of your preschooler), possibly some silverware as well. We purchased both from Pottery Barn as I saw many good reviews and they were on sale.
    3. Water bottle. Plan on sending water or iced tea. Milk or sweetened beverages make it tough to keep the water bottle clean. Juice boxes are okay, but not a necessary expense or necessary calories (there’s not much nutritional value and a lot of sugars). I ended up with a Thermos brand as I’ve been happy with them and read good reviews. It’s worked great so far, no leaks!
    4. Blanket, sheet, sleeping mat, or whatever other nap time requirements your school has. We were able to recycle from what was already in our drawers, letting Fiona choose which of her blankets should be designated for school.
  2. Clothes. Note what your dress policy is. Our school preferred close-toed shoes and absolutely prohibited backless sandals. Also, consider the best way to keep your morning routine simple. We bought the Ikea Helmer unit so we could pick 5 complete outfits and place them in their own drawers before the beginning of the week. Fiona only had to go choose one of those outfits. No more negotiating over clothing choices or stalling out in the morning. I chose this specific unit because it would be short enough for Fiona to reach by herself. A cheaper option would be a hanging closet organizer, and perhaps we will use one when she’s bigger and these drawers no longer hold a complete outfit.
  3. Lunches. Bento boxes are popular for a reason. When I asked my daughter what she wanted in her school lunch, her answer was “cheese, yogurt, fruit, and a drink”. Bento boxes are PERFECT for this type of eating that preschoolers are famous for. We ended up with the Pottery Barn ones as they fit well in the lunch box we bought.
  4. Name tags. Preschools want their name on everything. If, like me, you intentionally purchase things to be handed down to younger siblings, you might want to consider removable labels. I used the day care label pack from Mabel’s Labels for her clothes, backpack, lunchbox, etc. I used Inchbug’s orbit labels for her water bottle. Note specifications from your preschool. Fiona’s lunchbox had to be labeled on the outside, not just the inside.
  5. Calendar. Go ahead and mark on your calendar now all the special days you can identify. Dress like a pirate day. Hawaiian day. Show and tell day. Water day. If they’re on your calendar, you’re less likely to overlook it and show up in jeans on pajama day! If you want to, you can even add lunch ideas into your calendar so you know ahead of time what to pack each day (and what to buy at the grocery store the weekend before).

A few bonus tips that helped us:

  • Talk about school before you start! Explain it, talk it up, give your child a reason to want to go and help them understand what to expect.
  • Read books about starting school. We got a few out of the library that Fiona really gravitated toward during the first week or two of school.
  • Concerned about a clingy, tear-inducing drop off? Have your child walk into school instead of carrying them. This was a life-saver for us.
  • Get your child involved! Let them help plan or pack their lunch, let them select their shoes, have a special item (water bottle, food, treat, etc.) that is ONLY to be had at school so there is something for them to look forward to.

Deep breaths, mama, you’ve got this. Best of luck to all the little ones starting preschool this fall!

5 tips for starting preschool

My Best 5 Tips for Starting Preschool
By BarefootMama, August 13, 2018
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