Tips to Prepare for Kindergarten

Preparing for Kindergarten: Tips and Back-To-School Shopping List for Kindergarten

Now Kate’s Kids have all graduated from kindergarten a few years ago (she had kids in kindie for 6 straight years), but Erin will be preparing to send Thumper back to daycare in September and then kindergarten in 2022. The list for Back-To-School Shopping list for Kindergarten.

As a teacher I tell parents to keep it simple in terms of supplies as the schools should provide all the basic essentials. Getting ready for kindergarten can feel stressful, so I am here to give you a couple tips to ease some of the stress and unknown.

Below is a list of things you should purchase for kindergarten, tips for success and some ideas of things to practice ahead of time to make the transition into kindergarten easier.

back to school shopping list for junior kindergarten

Don’t forget the First Day of School Photo!

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Lots of parents start to fret when it comes to what to get for back-to-school.  You want to do most of your shopping before the kids head into the classrooms, but what do they need?  What are you wasting your money on? What do I need to send for kindergarten?

You may have noticed the lack of school supplies on my back-to-school shopping list for Junior Kindergarten, and that is because at this stage your child is going to need very few actual school supplies.  Paper, crayons, markers etc will likely all be supplied by the school. 

If you don’t have any arts & craft supplies at home, then maybe pick up some so your child can practice skills like drawing shapes or cutting paper with scissors at home.  But don’t go overboard with the markers just yet, at this stage enjoy the fact that you don’t need binders, rulers or calculators yet.  Instead I had some fun shopping for back-to-school clothes online as it saved so much time!

Well here is my Back-To-School Shopping list for Junior Kindergarten:

Back-To-School Shopping list for Junior Kindergarten

Indoor AND Outdoor shoes – No laces, your child needs to be able to put on and take off their own shoes.  Go with Velcro, or something like this awesome Ninja Turtles slip on runners until your child has mastered tying shoes. Velcro Shoes  are the best option as they are the easiest for kids to put on and off themselves and they are still structured to provide support unlike crocs or slip on shoes. 

Pants – Stay away from jeans if you child cannot button/unbutton them themselves.  I love to pick up jogging/sport pants. They are easy to get on/off independently while at school. 

Shirts – Go for comfort, kindergarten has lots of movement and play.  Make sure your kids will be comfortable in their clothing. If your kids go to a school for uniforms be sure to check out Carter’s Uniform Collection including khakis as they carry Uniform Ready Dress Code Basics in Navy and White for a great price! 

Hoodie – Perfect for layering up over t-shirts during the Spring and Fall. 

Winter Gear – Costco often starts selling their winter gear as early as August. Another great place to buy winter gear like jackets, and snow pants is from Carter’s as they often have sales. Make sure to Label all of this gear as it often goes missing, as the Kindergarten cubby area is almost always pure chaos.

What School Supplies do Kindergarteners need:

Backpack – We went with a regular size backpack, I know it might look large on your JK, but you don’t have to fill it.  Plus it gives you room to pack an extra change of clothes and lunch  and  snow  pants  in  the  winter. 

Lunch box – Get a lunch box that is large enough to fit everything.  Once you get a sandwich, a few snacks and an ice pack you would be surprised at how much space that takes up. I personally like Bento boxes as it allows you to have different compartments and offer your child multiple different snack options. Check out these Easy bento box lunch ideas for kids.

  • Water bottle/Lunch Containers – Choose a container that your child can open themselves to make lunch and snack time less stressful for your child. 


Name Labels – Kindergarteners often share the same interest so the likelyhood of three other students having a Paw Patrol backpack like my daughter is highly likely so I am making sure that I label everything with her name so that she knows it belongs to her.

Mabels Labels also makes great stickers for shoes to help kids determine which shoe is left and right to make sure they end up on the right feet.


  • Tissues– While you might not need this at the beginning of the year, come winter time it is a good idea to have some small packages of tissue to send in your child’s bag for runny noses. Teachers also love if you can send in some boxes of Kleenex as classrooms go through tons.
  • Hand Sanitizer – I like the hand sanitizers that you can clip to your child’s lunch bag to ensure that they wash their hands at snack breaks. 
  • Labels – Seriously, label EVERYTHING. Makes it so much easier to get back hats, water bottles, and even shoes when they are labeled. Our favourite go to for Labels is Mabel’s Labels.

Back to School Snacks:

Getting Ready for Kindergarten: How to Prepare & What to Expect

Thumper is going into kindergarten this September.  I’m hoping everything will go smoothly after all my daughter enjoys daycare and makes friends easily, so it should be no problem right?  Haha, not likely.  I know there will be tears, likely from both of us.  New school, new people.   The only thing I can do is prepare her by making her a little more independent and discussing school ahead of time.

  1. Plan a visit if possible: Take your child to the school even if you just show them the school, and the outdoor playground. Showing them their new school ahead of time can relieve some of the nerves that come with the first day.

Read books to prepare: I teach Grade 1 and some of my favourite back to school books are Kissing Hand, First Day Jitters, and The Night Before Kindergarten. Reading books can give children an idea of what to expect on their first day and can also help them understand that they will be safe, happy and taken care of at school by their teachers.

Keep Informed: The transition from daycare communication to kindergarten can be a big shock as kids gain some responsibility in bringing paperwork home, or sharing some of the messaging with parents.

As a parent make sure you connect with the teacher to find out the best way to keep on top of information, as teachers have different preferences for communication (email, apps, twitter, instagram etc). Communication from teachers is likely to be less personalized than childcare as normally communication is sent to the whole class rather than individual families.

Get Rid of Naps: Some three and four year olds still take naps however in kindergarten there is no longer nap time, and it is often that we have kids falling asleep in class for the first few weeks. As a teacher my advice is to start weaning naps in early August so that your child is use to no naps by time September starts.

I also suggest getting into a good bedtime routine atleast a week before school as getting to bed on time is important for kids to be successful in school. You may have let your child stay up late during the summer but you want to get back to regular bedtime routines.

This may or may not be successful, or you might not be interested in breaking your child’s need for a nap, however know that most kindergarten classes do not have a nap or quiet time during the day.  So, if your child is very tired and still naps they may find themselves falling asleep in a reading area or even the floor.

Morning Routine: Mornings can be chaotic so you may want to practice the morning routine ahead of time and teach your child what their responsibilties will be each morning (ex. picking our their own clothes, getting dressed, possibly packing stuff in their backpack). Each family knows their child best and will be able to decide on the appropriate responsibilities.

Breakfast: Mornings in our household can be super chaotic so I often like to feed my kids breakfast items that can be eaten in the car such as cut up fruit, healthy muffins, or even smoothies.

Lunch Ideas: You will want to label all containers with your child’s name so they don’t get lost. I love using Mabels Labels as they are super durable even after repeated wash in the dishwasher. I also advise parents to label containers or use a lunch bag with two sections to help children understand not to eat the contents of all of their lunch at the first break. The solution: place a letter or number on each container so they know which one to use first. For example, Label Nutrition Break #1, and Nutrition Break #2. You can also purchase lunch bags that have two different sections, one for each nutrition break. You may also consider meal planning to make life simplier.

Another tip is to buy easy to use containers that your child can open independently.

Time Away: If you were able to stay home with your child until now and they haven’t spent a lot of time with other adults or children you may want to set up a few play dates in which you are not present.  Going to school full time will be a big change for them.

Tips on Getting Your Child Kindergarten Ready

Below are some tips of important things to practice to make kindergarten easier for both your child and their teacher, these are all great activities to build independence.

The teachers at my daughters new school have already told me that they follow the philosophy “Ask three then ask me” which means: ask three of your peers and if you still need help the teacher will step in. Very different then her daycare where the adults help put shoes and sunscreen on.  This has made me aware of all the little things my daughter needs help with that she could be capable of doing on her own if she’s just shown how.

  1. Shoes: It goes without saying that unless your chile can manage shoe laces sending easy to put on shoes is best.  Velcro or elastic style laces work well.  As far as getting them on the right foot, well I put two circles on Bee’s shoes with permanent marker.  Just place one circle on each shoe where their big toes are, so when they put their shoes on they know that the polka-dots need to match up.  She has not put her shoes on the wrong foot since!

Getting Dressed on their Own: In kindergarten classes in Ontario, there are two educators and between 25-30 students so it is really important to teach your child how to get dressed on their own and this includes outdoor wear such as jackets. Have your child practice putting their jacket on independently, my favourite tip is the jacket flip technique. You will also want to practice zippers.

If your child has a bathroom accident they will have to get dressed on their own as teachers can’t help them other than varbal instructions to it is important to have your child practice getting dressed by themselves including putting on underwear socks and shoes and knowing how to change into spare clothes.

A teacher tip: Dress your kid comfortable for school, no buttons and limit zippers if possible… clothes that can be pulled up or down easily is super helpful.

  1. Practice using Lunch Bag:  Something that never occurred to me until I went to the kindergarten information session was teaching my daughter how to use her lunch box.  The daycare she attended served her lunch and snacks to her so never had to pack a lunch, until Kindergarten.  We are now practicing how to open her lunch containers as well as using her lunch bag that I will be sending to school.
  2. From morning snack right through to afternoon snack.  This way when school starts she will know how to open the lunch containers as well as which snack to eat and when.  Also, consider timing your child, mine is a slow eater which she will have to remedy for school.

Toilet Training: Children should be potty trained to attend kindergarten, however accidents do happen so make sure to pack lots of spare clothes, and also teach your child that they need to let their teacher know if an accident happens. (I have had instances in the past as a teacher that a parent is upset that their child went home went from pee however the child didn’t tell me they had an accident and it wasn’t noticeable on their clothes). Teachers also can’t help children in the washroom so it is important to teach your child how to wipe their own butts as well. I often advise parents to prepare for a more frequent bath schedule as well for the beginning of kindergarten as kids will come home more dirty than you may be used too!

Did I miss anything on the Back-To-School Shopping list for Junior Kindergarten?  Do you have any other tips to prepare for back to school with a student starting kindergarten? What are your” must haves” when shopping for back-to-school?



5 thoughts on “Preparing for Kindergarten: Tips and Back-To-School Shopping List for Kindergarten”

  1. Must haves are good quality shoes, and clothes that will last but don’t break the bank….they will get so messy and dirty while learning in kindergarten that I don’t want to have to worry about items that get ruined

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