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5 back-to-school essentials your kindergartener needs

The first day of kindergarten is an exciting one for your child. It’s a milestone and one to celebrate as your little one begins his or her climb up the educational ladder. Summer is the ideal time to get prepared for the big first day of school and take advantage of those budget-friendly back-to-school sales. Teachers typically don’t send out or post their classroom supply lists until closer to the start of school. Don’t worry, though, as back-to-school essentials are basic for kindergarten. There are five important essentials kids need to start every school year and there isn’t any need to wait for the list to purchase them. Here are five basics to purchase when the price is right and put aside for the first day.

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What kindergarteners need for school


A sturdy backpack is a school must-have from kindergarten through high school. Unlike middle and high school students requiring roomy backpacks for books, folders and laptops, a kindergartener needs a simple backpack. A backpack for a kindergartener should be tall enough to fit a folder and should be able to hold a lunchbox. Many teachers send a take-home folder back and forth to school, so it’s important to make sure the backpack can accommodate it. A front zipper pouch is helpful for those small show-and-tell items, as is a side pocket for a water bottle. Kindergarten backpacks are fun to shop for. Kids usually want a character backpack. Just make sure the character ones are sturdy enough to withstand 5-year-olds who will throw, drop and drag their backpacks. Sometimes it’s a better option to avoid the commercialized backpacks and pay a little extra for a more durable backpack so it lasts the entire year. Thanks to the internet, it’s not difficult to find a themed backpack your child will love that’s sturdy. Avoid backpacks with wheels. They can be too bulky and awkward in the classroom and definitely won’t fit in the cubby closet.

Kindergarten boy eating an apple as a snack
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Lunch box

Most school districts have full-day kindergarten, which means your child will be bringing a lunch to school each day. Since they’re still young, kindergarteners also need a snack. Even if your child is getting the school lunch, there’s still a snack to consider. Either way, your child will need a lunchbox. If you know your child will be getting lunch from the school daily, a smaller lunch box just for snacks is all you’ll need. If your child is bringing lunch, make sure to pick a durable lunch box that’s roomy enough to accommodate lunch items and the morning snack, but not oversized because it won’t fit in the cubby. Generally, kids go from lunch outside to recess, and lunchboxes tend to get tossed aside or left in the dirt. Choose a lunch box that has a good zipper seal and cleans up well. An insulated lunch box is another good choice, so food items stay chilled. Kindergarteners will want a fun lunch box, too. So, keep your eyes peeled for colorful, cute lunch boxes that are well made. Bento boxes are another option. The convenient built-in boxes make it simple to pack lunches and keep food separate.

Ice packs

Bento boxes typically come with reusable ice packs, but not all lunch boxes do. An ice pack is a back-to-school essential for sandwiches, yogurts and any food items requiring refrigeration. Even if the lunch box you purchase comes with an ice pack, it is a good idea to have extras on hand because kids lose them. Lunch box ice packs should be compact so they don’t take up much space. They should also be reusable, washable, BPA-free and non-toxic.

Reusable water bottle

Kids get thirsty during the day, and school water fountains are germ magnets. A healthier option for kindergarteners is a reusable water bottle with a stem and foldable straw. Kids aren’t going on a long hike, so they don’t need a large water bottle. A small water bottle fitting in the backpack side pocket is a perfect pick. Check to make sure the reusable water bottle is BPA-free. Dishwasher safe is a plus, too, for sanitizing purposes. Classrooms like water fountains attract a lot of germs during the school day.


Rain, rain doesn’t always go away, and having a compact umbrella to slip into your child’s backpack is ideal, especially if there’s a walk to and from the bus stop. Kids love the fun long, character umbrellas, but a small, travel umbrella with an automatic open button can fit easily inside the zipper or side pocket of the backpack. It’s always there if your child needs it on the way in or out of school.

Parents are just as excited for school as kindergarteners are. It’s a special day. Involve your kindergartener in the choice of backpack and lunch box, with parameters. Spending a little more on a quality backpack and lunch box that lasts is more cost-efficient than the trendy must-haves kids see in stores. Keep an eye on the school website for the classroom supply lists. Of course, you’ll want to get a jump on the back-to-school shopping, but you don’t want to purchase unnecessary items. These five essentials are annual purchases kids need each academic year. When you see primary pencils, crayons and scissors on sale, grab a couple and put them in the closet. Don’t worry. Your kindergartener’s first back-to-school supply list will be handed out soon, and you’ll already have a head start.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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