Just head to Target on any given week day and you won’t be able to miss the hoards of people gathering in the back-to-school section in the back of the store. Frantic moms glaring at a mile-long supply list and either giddy or depressed looking kiddos (depending on what their current mood is about going back to school) rummaging through notebooks and binders and pencils and backpacks. It’s a mad house in there, and I love it!
I am one of those nerds who would always get excited about school supply shopping. I loved every bit of it! Buying a blank notebook and fresh, new pencils was like a little taste of heaven. I still get that excited feeling in my belly when I see all the back-to-school stuff pop up in August every year. I thought, though, I’d have a little bit of time to join in the frenzy since my kids only go to a Mother’s Day Out preschool program a couple of times a week. Turns out, I was wrong! Preschoolers need their very own gear for school…who knew? Granted, they don’t need quite as much as their primary school friends, but it can still be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out what your preschooler needs.
Here is my list of essentials (and some great examples!) of what every preschooler will need for school this year!
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Back-to-School Gear for Preschoolers
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your preschooler only needs a teeny little backpack because he’s barely big enough to carry one. You will be surprised at the amount of crap your kid will bring home from preschool on a daily basis. Most preschools require the backpack to be big enough to fit a folder and a lunchbox inside anyway, so just get a normal sized backpack from the get-go and save yourself the hassle later. I got personalized backpacks from Pottery Barn Kids from both my kiddos and they’ve held up really well.
These lunch boxes are just the cutest! The kids really love the fun, animal shape lunch boxes but I really love the ones that I can get personalized because it makes my life and their teachers lives easier. I’ve bought both of my kids the personalized lunch boxes from Pottery Barn kids (they match their backpacks) and those things are durable and roomy. We love them!
Also, there are two things you absolutely need to buy: a bento box (or something like it) and a thermos. These suckers will come in really handy! I use the thermoses every week because my kids simply cannot live without chicken nuggets for lunch at least once a week. I cook the nuggets right before I pack their lunches and then stick them in the thermos hot. It keep them nice and warm until it’s time for lunch!
I personally love Contigo water bottles for my kids. They’re durable and they keep water cool. I’ve also bought my kids some of the fun water bottles (like Trolls or Superman) and they’re a big hit. I bought my daughter a personalized water bottle from Pottery Barn Kids that matched her backpack and lunchbox and I loved that everything already had her name on it.
Everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, you send to school with your kiddo must be labeled. From the backpack and lunchbox, to the extra change of clothes and everything in between, it all got to have his or her name on it. At first, I decided to be cheap and just write my kids names on everything with a Sharpie. Let me tell you why that’s a bad idea: (1) Sharpie’s are not necessarily waterproof, (2) there’s not always a good place to write on Mr. Fluffy, the ragamuffin lovey, and (3) it’s annoying trying to remember what you have and have not labeled when you’re rushing out the door. When I discovered waterproof, personalized labels I may or may not have done a happy dance in the middle of the store. These labels are waterproof, dishwasher proof, washing machine proof and stick like crazy. And they can be personalized so you don’t have to write your kid’s name a bazillion times! Labels like these are worth every penny.
There are a wide variety of nap mats out there. You can buy the el cheapo plastic version at any Walmart for about 5 bucks. It’s not pretty, and you’ll have to find or make a cover for it (you can find really cute ones on Etsy), or you can just get a really nice one like these and save yourself the headache. I actually made a cover for my son and it’s okay. If I could do it over, I’d buy him this Superman nap mat because it would BLOW HIS MIND.
Most preschools or MDO programs don’t have a way to heat up food or keep it cool. This means that you have to pack things that will stay at a good temperature for a few hours without much insulation. I found this to be tricky with my son who is a pretty picky eater. Luckily, he loves fruit and veggie pouches and dried fruit, so these snacks are my go-to’s for a yummy, relatively healthy lunch that won’t go bad even on the hottest day.
Those are my must-haves for my preschooler! Did I miss anything essential? I know that my days of buying a nap mat and snacks to prepare for school are numbered, so I’m going to relish the simplicity of it while I can. Before I know it, I’ll be one of those wild-eyed moms in the back of Target while my kids whine about summer being over too soon. If you see me, bring me a coffee, will ya?