The Boy is starting at a new preschool this September. It’s just across the road – at the primary school he’ll *hopefully* start at the following year – so the idea is that by sending him for a couple of days a week over the next year, we’ll ease him in to the whole thing gently.
I say him, but I mean me.
In reality, it’s definitely me who needs easing in gently. He’d live at preschool if he got the chance, whereas I’ve still got to get my head around the whole thing.
It’s not that preschool is new to either of us. He first started going to one when he was 2, almost 3. His free 15 hours of funding kicked in a few terms later so we upped his mornings to 3, and later 4. Then he loved it so much that he begged to go to lunch club, too, and is now devastated that it’s not running through the school holidays.
The difference is, the new one is at a ‘proper’ school, so things feel a lot more official. There’s an official school jumper, for example, whereas there’s no such thing as a school uniform at the other place (which he’ll still be going to a couple of mornings a week). There are some other things – like wearing shoes with Velcro fastenings – that are recommended to encourage independence, too. And it looks as though I’ll be spending the next 6 weeks sticking labels into all 697 items of his clothing.
If you’ve got a child starting preschool or nursery this September, here are 8 things that it might be worth getting your hands on between now and then. Some of them can be bought, some can be borrowed, and some you’ll probably already have.
8 things that are actually worth buying before your toddler starts preschool…
1. A rucksack.
Half the fun of starting at a new place – for my son at least – is choosing a new rucksack. And this year we got the littlest one, too, to take when she goes to the grandparents’. These embossed ones are a bit sturdier than most, so I’m hoping they’ll last longer. The Minion backpack was £12, and the Peppa Pig girls’ backpack was £11, both from the back-to-school range at Debenhams.
2. Jogging bottoms.
My welcome pack for the new preschool asks parents to send children in clothes that’ll make taking themselves to the loo a bit easier – like jogging bottoms, which don’t have zips or buttons. Leggings are a good option for girls.
3. New pants or knickers (for them, not you).
On the subject of which, if you haven’t already gone through the fun of potty training, now might be a good time if your toddler is ready. Some snazzy new dinosaur pants worked wonders when we went through it with The Boy, and I still pack a spare pair for him wherever we go. Don’t panic if they’re a bit younger or it’s just too early though – just talk to the preschool and most will work with your child whatever stage they’re at, and will probably just ask that you send them along in pull-ups rather than nappies. That said, it’s worth checking the policy at your particular preschool, as some take a firmer approach.
4. A decent calendar (for you, not them).
You’ll start getting emails or letters about what’s coming up and what your child will be learning about week-by-week. These will include things for them to bring in each week, dates of special events, half-term breaks etc. You’re going to need a calendar to keep track of everything, whether it’s online (I use Google calendar) or hanging on your fridge (I also use one of these – and still forget stuff). You may also need some really helpful friends when you’re less-than prepared and can’t think of anything that begins with the ‘a’ sound to pack for the next day (although don’t be surprised if their best suggestions are aspirin, Absinthe and Aperol Spritz. Thanks, guys…)
Rather than buying a load of new clothes, stop throwing away the more threadbare items in their wardrobe as of now, or see if there are any hand-me-downs you can take off someone else’s hands. They’ll be perfect for for preschool days – they’re going to get covered in paint, water, playdough, saltdough, mud… you name it. Sometimes they’ll be so bad you’ll end up chucking them away, and it’s a whole lot less painful when it was something destined for the bin anyway.
6. Velcro-fastening shoes.
Again, anything that means your child can start to dress themselves independently is going to be a winner at preschool, and this is something that was recommended in our new-starter pack. Of course, if you’re feeling brave or raising a genius, just teach them to tie their laces.
7. A lunchbox.
My daughter has a Yumbox lunchbox – a Bento Box-style tub with built-in compartments – and it’s absolutely brilliant, not to mention leak-proof. My son is a bit more fussy and chose a Gruffalo tin a while ago, and I just found this matching Gruffalo drinks bottle to go with it.
8. Clothes labels.
Fortunately the days of sewing on squillions of name labels are long gone, and there are loads of iron-on and stick-on options to choose from. I’ve ordered mine from Stuck On You but they’re yet to arrive, so I’ll update this post when they do.
Disclosure: Debenhams kindly sent us a gift voucher to test out some items from their back-to-school range, and we chose the two rucksacks photographed. As always, all views and opinions are my own.