Starting Kindergarten is a big deal. If your first-born is starting school this year, you may be feeling a little bit overwhelmed (naturally – this is a big step!) and you may be a touch unsure about what they really need. No, your newly-minted Kindergartener doesn’t need a heck of a lot, but there are a few things that will help them start the year off successfully.
Here’s what veteran moms and teachers tell us are the only things you really need before your little one heads to class (sniff).
**During the Covid-19 pandemic, you’ll need to add a 9th item: a mask. Here are our picks for best face masks for kids.**
1. A Large Backpack
Yes, they’re still so wee, but your kiddo does need to graduate from the mini-backpack they wore to daycare. The teacher will be sending home calendar sheets, newsletters, and permission forms in letter-sized folders. Make a production of shopping for a new big-kid backpack together, and be sure it can hold a lunch bag, water bottle, and change of clothes. Here’s a round-up of some of our favourite backpacks for starting Kindergarten.
2. Labels for Everything
School hallways and playgrounds can be like black holes for everything from water bottles to raincoats. One of our kids misplaced two pairs of orange snow pants in one winter. It’s well worth the money to order custom labels that go on shoes, lunch containers, clothing, and backpacks. And one of our favourite picks is Mabel’s Labels.
3. A Good Lunch Bag
While it may be fun to have a super cute one, keep in mind that younger kids might lose lunch bags during the school year. You could buy two affordable models for school when one is MIA or just too caked in banana to face. Or, if you have older kids who are less likely to lose something as big as a lunch bag, you may want to invest in one that’s a bit pricier, but could last for several years. Here are some of our favourite lunch bags for school.
4. Containers They Can Open
Take our word for it. When starting Kindergarten, your kids—and their teacher—will be glad you bought lunch containers they can manage on their own. Containers like Sistema and Yumbox Bento Boxes are widely known to be easier for little hands to open. Tip: Have a trial run before school starts.
5. A Leak-Proof Water Bottle
Chances are good that the water fountain is not going to be right outside the kindergarten door. Get a couple of sturdy water bottles in a little-kid appropriate size. We’re big fans of Contigo and EcoVessel to name a couple. And if you’d like some non-plastic options, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite water bottles for school.
6. Extra Clothes in a Labelled Bag
Accidents happen and there’s nothing kindergarten teachers want to stress more than just how important it is that you send a full set of extra clothes (including socks for puddle-related incidents), and then keep it replenished and updated seasonally as needed.
7. Indoor Shoes & Gym Shoes
Your kids will need to change out of their outdoor boots or shoes and into an indoor pair each and every morning, as well as at recess, lunchtime, and after school. So you’ll want to be sure that they’re easy for your little one to get on and off. You’ll also want to make sure they have a pair of shoes that are suitable for all the running around they’ll do in gym class. The best indoor shoes will work for both.
8. Immunization Records
You were probably asked for it at registration time, but if you haven’t shared your child’s updated vaccine record, you’ll want to track that down before the first day of school or get on the phone with the doctor’s office to get a copy.
Here’s to a successful first year for your (big) little one!