Hello! I’m wearing my teacher/mommy hats today! When I was new to the mommy role, I don’t remember anyone sharing tips for what works and what doesn’t when it comes to shopping for your preschooler. And yet when I am in my teacher role it is so easy to see the advantages of having the ‘just right’ item from the child’s perspective. So new Mommies out there, this post is for you!
- Lunch/snack kits Go for a smaller one. Often early learning centres have small tables or cubbies to store children’s belongings. (If you have an opportunity, have a good look at the storage space your child will be given in advance, this will help you get an idea of what you will be able to send along.) It can be a huge challenge for the child with the too large lunch box. It may be frustrating to put away, it may be so large it interferes with the child who sits beside or across the table. Also take it for a test drive. Either bring your child to the store or bring it home and be prepared to return if it does not pass the test. Give it to your child and see if your child can easily open it by himself. Maybe zippers are too hard for your 2 and a half year old now so you need a velcro closing. Does the lunch box have one zipper or two? More zippers equals more work for a young child. If it is difficult and you want your child to learn to use it then let them practice with it! Put some favourite toys inside and let them open and close it for several days/weeks before school starts. The same goes for those reusable containers inside the lunch kit. Test them out and let them practice! For some children, ziplock bags are easier. And now they make those washable cloth bags with the velcro closure. Most children can manage those with ease!
- Backpack or Bags Again, smaller is better. Choose something a child can easily carry. Will your child want to carry a big heavy bag? Maybe not. Preschool is about encouraging children to look after their own belongings. If it is easy for children to do they will be far more willing to take that responsibility. And no one wants to fight about the backpack every morning. Make sure the straps are properly adjusted to keep the weight evenly distributed. Again test drive. Practice.
- Shoes, Coats, Rain and Snow Pants All of these are best if the child can easily manage them independently. As a teacher trying to tie 16-25 shoelaces every day twice a day is just not realistic. Velcro is an option but now there are also stretchy laces which are another great alternative. The stretchy laces can be left tied up and the child just slips the shoe off and on. You might want to let the teacher know about those stretchy laces too 😉 Zippers are good to have on clothing as children need to practice. Let them try doing the zipper at home, not just at preschool. The more practice, the easier it will become. I know it takes longer when you are trying to go out somewhere but if you can let them try they will soon be independent! Rain and Snow pants are easier for everyone as just pants. Those full suits are such a challenge! I know they provide good coverage but I just feel the separates are a better way to go. They are easier to manage independently and for children who are learning to use the toilet or reluctant to stop for bathroom breaks this is so important. My personal bias here.
- Mittens vs. Gloves Getting each finger into a glove is a skill in itself. Children who are 2 or 3 will likely have trouble with gloves. Test drive! Practice! And go for mittens when your child is young.
- Water Bottles Tall ones tip over easily. Shorter wide ones are less likely to spill. How easy is it to open? Can your child do it? Let them practice! Perhaps all your child needs is a cup?
- Clothing Hand me downs and consignment clothing are the way to go! Learning is a messy process for a young child and you don’t want anything to get in the way of your child learning, right? So make sure your child goes to school in play clothes every day. If you have a little girl who loves to wear dresses, just buy them second hand and if the paint doesn’t wash out, send them in the stained clothes to school. If you are going somewhere afterwards and cannot stand to have your child out in public looking that way, then bring a change of clothing for after preschool but please please please, never tell them you don’t want their clothing to get dirty. That’s the last thing a child needs to be thinking about. I have seen the worry about getting dirty stop a child from playing and learning. That’s the last thing we want! You can get great stain removal tips online and probably find the answer to getting out just about any stain so use google and some powerful detergent.
Happy shopping! May you make choices that will support your child’s journey in learning and growing independence. And may your back to school transition be a positive one.
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