Things To Learn Before Starting Kindergarten

Full Disclosure: I have included some affiliate links within my posts. I only recommend products I would use at home or have used in the past. Please feel free to make a purchase through these links as it won’t cost you anymore money but will help me support my blog. THANKS and happy reading!

SO I realized when my son was about to turn 3 (he is a December baby) that in 9 SHORT months that he would be starting school. My baby would be a BABY when he started junior kindergarten. I was very freaked out… and PREGNANT with my second baby. It was all I could do to not cry about it… my decision to get prepared was out of fear of him being completely unprepared. There were a number of things I did to get him ready AND he WAS ready ans I am so glad that I did. I was advised by my cousin who is an Early Childhood Educator, the school supplied suggestions, as well as a lot of online research. I am in no way an expert and that being said the following article is just how I prepared my son and myself and is in no way expert advice! Use this info as you see fit!

One of our greatest resources was the Ontario Early Years Centre in our town. We are so blessed to have such a great centre for parents to lean on and learn along with their kids. I have taken a few parent programs and we were going to the centre almost weekly (sometimes up to 3 times a week) to just play and enjoy the facility. Where we live the facility has a running room (a big room with bikes and space for the kids to move even on a rainy day) as well as a family room with toys, books and craft supplies. On most days the ladies that run the centre do story time where the kids learn about sitting in a circle and listening to instruction. They also have a program called Kids First which is like a nursery school program run by some of the most wonderful ladies. Unfortunately my son never made it off the waiting list but any of the kids in his play group who got in got very OBVIOUS benefits from that program to prepare them for kindergarten.  I learned a lot about what my son needed to get prepared from the OEYC for sure. I learned that he hated sitting in a circle, he was good at play learning, he was a very visual learner and he was good at making new friends (as long as he introduced himself by his full name). I suggest if you live in Ontario that you see what the Early Years has to offer in your community. Like I said before we are SO lucky that we have such a great centre and our county helps a lot with funding.

My local OEYC Facebook page posted the video from Today’s Parent that sums up some really important things.

The most important thing (especially for the younger kids starting when they are 3) is potty training. Teachers can’t help kids in the bathroom so it is VITAL they can use the toilet, pull up their pants and wipe themselves clean. I know that we worked really hard on getting my son prepared for this before school. The Early Years Center was an excellent place to practice him going in on his own and doing it all by himself. I can say we accomplished this task before school started even if he had a few accidents at the beginning.

This next item goes “hand in hand” (pun intended) with the potty training point. Washing their hands on their own is VERY important. I know that my son has been in school for three months and is on his third round of a cold. I’m still working hard on getting him to use soap every time but he is getting better all the time. If you want to ward off the gross bugs that go along with starting school get your kids used to washing their hands before and after eating, after the washroom and anytime they touch community toys. This is hard I know with toddlers but they will catch on if you make this normal. The video above suggests getting them to sing a song while they do it to ensure they do it long enough and this has worked for my son and myself. We sing twinkle twinkle little start start to finish every time!

Another important thing you and your chid must master before school is dressing themselves. There are usually up to 30+ kids in each kindergarten class and the teacher can’t help dress each and every one of them. This is very helpful for your teacher if you can get your kid to dress themselves. If they have an accident (trust me it will happen no matter how prepared you are) you want them to be able to put on their own underwear and pants. When they get wet socks they should be able to change them on their own. When going out for recess and home at the end of the day you want them to be able to put on their own coats, gloves and shoes. Get them shoes that are velcro or have no ties so they can put them on easily.  Mabel’s Labels has a great product for helping them put on their shoes on the right feet as well as label them so they come home:

You will also want to work on recognizing their own name. You will have to label everything (and I mean EVERYTHING… three months in I’m still using labels from my Big Kaboodle Mabel’s Label pack!) now you have them labeled you need them to be able to recognize the labels. No use in having the things labeled if you have to go into the school every other week to collect it. I put cute dinosaurs on our labels to start to help him have something familiar to look for. Now he knows his first and last name and knows to bring home his things every day! The next step is to have them write their own name. They will learn this in school but you will be so much further ahead if you can have their first name mastered. We tried practicing during the summer prior to school but my son refused. He was doing it all on his own within two weeks of school so sometimes you can’t push it… sometimes the teacher will have an easier time and that is ok too.

Another very important thing to learn is how they can open and close their lunch containers. The first step is to get kid friendly containers. I talk a lot about this in my post about What To Buy For Kindergarten. I love love LOOOOOVE the Yumbox  and how easy it is for the little hands to get open and closed and it is leak proof. Teachers and classroom ECE’s have a lot of kids to support in a day and they can’t open containers for everyone. I still help my son along by opening applesauce pouches and replacing the lids, taring the wrapped items like granola bars and I even take the straw out of the rewrapped package and tape it to his juice box to help him do it on his own. This will help his teachers and the support team by freeing up that little bit of time for other kids who might actually need the help.

We faired pretty good on that list of things to learn. We got most of them mastered or nearly mastered by the end of August. My son is lucky to have a smaller class with only 20 kids and so I don’t have to worry too much about him not getting the help he might need. Some kids aren’t so lucky so if they have a parent who can help them with the above list they will be that much further ahead when they start kindergarten! Best of luck to all the moms and dads who have kids who are starting the big JK this coming fall! Time to get to work!

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Thank you for your support and time! XO Meg

Things To Buy For a First Time Kindergarten Student

Full Disclosure: I have included some affiliate links within my posts. I only recommend products I would use at home or have used in the past. Please feel free to make a purchase through these links as it won’t cost you anymore money but will help me support my blog. THANKS and happy reading!

My boy and his friend checking out their new school

So MY SON started Kindergarten in September. I had a very VERY mixed bag of emotions leading up to that life change. With a 2 month old baby I was looking forward to some one on one time with my girl but on the flip side he was my first baby starting school at 3 and a half and I never really was away from him. After he was born I had such an internal shift I never went back to work full time. When he turned One Years Old and it was time for me to go back to work I started to freak out. I couldn’t bring myself to put him in any sort of daycare SO I started one of my own. For a whole year I did home daycare. I loved it. Within that year though we had downsized from a house to an apartment and doing daycare just wasn’t feasible anymore. About his second birthday I got a part time job cleaning in the evenings so I could be with him everyday. That year was great. We did toddler music class, swimming, play dates with play group and all sorts of fun stuff every day. When it was time for him to go every day ALL day I felt a little bit lost and a LOT sad.


Waiting for the School bus on the first day


ME crying like a blubbering idiot after he got on the bus… I took this to remind me in July how I felt when I left for the first time!

I am a planner and a list maker and I got on top of things in April in preparation for September. I didn’t want to have to go in August to and spend a bunch of money in one big shot. I knew there would be a new baby coming in July so money was going to be tight! So here is my list of what I needed to get, what I got, and my quick review on each item. I hope this helps some moms who have kids who leave to start school for the first time next September! This list will also work for those sending kids to a nursery school or pre-school program as well!

Here Is What You Need:

A Good Quality Backpack:

I did a lot of research on which backpack to get my little man for the big transition. I eventually settled on the Lands End back pack. I decided on this for a few reasons. The main reason was these bags have a lifetime warranty. If my kid drags this bag on the ground all the way from the bus stop to school and it breaks they will replace it no problem. This is HUGE value for me. I have a rough and tumble child so I think its best to cover these bases! They have a great chart for measuring the size of the bag to make sure they will fit your child before you order. I also ordered the previous years design so I saved a substantial amount of money on a great quality bag. I went with the medium size for my guy and its a bit big but I’m hoping to get at least two years out of this bag. So far its needed very little cleaning and has stood the test of a 3 and a half year old starting school and taking the bus on his own.

A Good Quality Lunch Bag:

This is the lunch bag that I decided to go with. It is a large bag that has the ice pack built into it. This was a bonus for me as I see it as one less thing for my kid to loose at school. With the ice pack built in his lunch and snacks will stay cold whether he likes it or not! I did some research to see if I could find a lunch bag that will fit a yumbox (see below) because I had decided early on that I was getting him one for his lunch. Its also a fun pattern and easy to open and close for little hands. It has a zipper but also velcro on the flap. While writing this post I came across this other bag from the same company:

I bought this bag today to try out and see if its a good second option for when the other bag is messy or he doesn’t need to take as much to school. If you want a review on this bag let me know and I’ll do that!

Easy Open and Close Containers For Lunch:

So the word is OUT and a Yumbox is the way to go. The best part about this container is its easy to open AND close for little kids AND adults. The next best part about this product is the leakproof design. The lid has a silicon that suctions to the tray making it leakproof (as long as its closed correctly). You can put liquid or things like yogurt or salad dressing in the tray and it won’t seep into the other compartments. In the picture above I put yogurt and dressing in for dipping. Each compartment is also conveniently labeled so you can give the appropriate amount of each food group. On the right is Protein (I put chicken in this one), the top is Dairy (I put vanilla yogurt with honey in) then top right is Fruit (apple slices of course) and the bottom is Vegetables (cucumbers always go over good at our house) the big compartment in the middle is for Grains (a bowtie pasta salad with Italian dressing and peppers). I bought two of these containers, one in blue and one in green. I ordered these from and I warn you they are a bit pricey but in my opinion TOTALLY worth the price. After school started I went to a local shop and bought a snack size version:

This one only has 3 compartments and no labels. It is about half the size of the regular one. This one pictured I put in some Honey Dew melon, gummy candy in the middle and home made nut free trail mix on the right. There are two other sizes of yumbox so you will be able to find one that is right for you and your kids. The hard part is sometimes finding them as they sell out quickly!

Labels for EVERYTHING:

Big Kaboodle™ Label Pack
So now you are sending your kid to school with all this stuff its probably for the best that you send it all with labels on it.  I HIGHLY recommend Mabel’s Labels I was told by a friend they were the best and they really ARE. I use them on everything. My son’s clothes, his lunch bag, his yumbox, his boots, his shoes, his coat… EVERYTHING. They withstand the dishwasher and the laundry so they are high quality. I also tried the iron on labels and put them in his clothes including his underwear. I got the Big Kaboodle™ Label Pack and still have tons of the labels left over so anything that needs replaced or new labels I’m still covered… best value in my opinion!

Easy Open Thermos or Insulated Food Jar:

For the winter months I thought my son would want a warm lunch on occasion. This is the “thermos” I bought him at Walmart. I put a label on both the lid and the metal container so both will come back home at the end of the day. The reason I picked this one instead of a fancy one is simple… I took him to the store and asked him to try and open a few and this was THE ONLY one he could open and close himself. It has a great kid friendly lid that is easy to get on and off.

Easy Open Water or Juice Bottle:

I send juice boxes to school but it is always a good idea to send a water bottle as well. Some days I even fill the bottle with milk so he gets an extra serving of milk. I like this bottle for a few reasons. One is its really easy to clean. Inside the lid is two separate spouts that are removable but stay attached to the bottle. This insures you aren’t getting any mold build up. I always clean mine in the dishwasher and it has lasted a long time. Again I put labels on the lid and the bottle just incase busy hands take the bottle apart. I got this one at Walmart as well but you can also get them from the Contigo site.

Easy On and Off Pants:

They start kindergarten so young now a days. I started when I was 5 years old and my son started at 3 and a half! That being said he was only potty trained for less than a year when he started. It was essential that I sent him in pants that didn’t have buttons or zippers or we would have been in big trouble! Carters and OshKosh have a great selection of pull on pants that are stylish and practical. I also really love the Gap pants as well because they have track pants and other styles that are pull on with or without a draw string.


You will need a good pair of Indoor and Outdoor shoes (and boots in the winter months). I didn’t put any recommendations here as this totally depends on what your child likes and or has already. Both pairs of my son’s shoes have velcro straps for him to do himself as he is not yet able to tie laces. Get what fits and you like. That is the main thing… you both have to like the shoes they wear! As far as boots go I HIGHLY recommend Boggs although they can be very pricey they keep their feet warm and are waterproof. I always splurge in this department and get my son Boggs.


Here I am waiting on that first day for the bus to drop him back at home. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and we all survived. You have to put on that brave face for your kid so that they will not be afraid or timid when it comes to school. I didn’t start crying until my son was out of site and really now he loves school. He doesn’t want to miss a day and I’m not sure if its because I was brave for him or if my big girl pants had anything at all to do with it. In the end we all have had a good school experience and everyone deserves that. I hope that you manage and don’t have too much heart break when it comes to starting school.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Please share with your friends and family! Pin IT, Like IT on Facebook, email IT to your relatives, or whatever gets the word out! Also please subscribe to my email updates! That way you will stay in the loop of what is coming to the blog!
Thank you for your support and time! XO Meg