If you have a little one heading into a Pre-Kindergarten program, including day care, you may be wondering why the program has requested that such little children carry a real backpack. You know fifth-graders must haul around their math book and safely store their book report until it’s time to hand it in, but a four-year-old doesn’t! Why do they need a preschool backpack? What’s even in a Pre-K backpack? Happily, we are here to help, both with what to pack for your littlest student, and to talk about why educators are eager to have the very youngest students carry backpacks.
Being a successful student and lifelong learner is inextricably linked with having a good school routine and study habits. When parents and teachers present a school backpack to a little child simply, as a basic part of attending school, they will grow used to it long before it is an essential item. If you teach your Preschool student to consistently remember their own backpack (because they feel naked without it!), you will eventually have a middle schooler who requires no nagging to keep track of their own school bag. That’s a wise investment of your time! You can set a small child up for school success by building a good school routine and study habits from the very beginning.
At the same time, parents and educators know that little children can’t always be depended upon to remember things like progress reports, permission slips and birthday party invitations. A backpack that travels consistently with a small child is an ideal mode of communication between parents and teachers or caregivers; it’s ever-present, sturdy, and zips up tight, making claims of, “I don’t know! It got lost!” much less likely. Your little one is the Pony Express, and the backpack is the mail bag.
Most Pre-K students will have had a little going-to-grandma’s type backpack already, so the idea may already be present in their mind. However, a proper student backpack, even one proportioned especially for small children, will look and feel quite different. A good-quality backpack is made with tough fabric, quality construction, extra pockets and safety features like reflective trim and a chest buckle. Help your Pre-K child get excited about their new backpack so that the new responsibility seems like an adventure! Allow them to select a cool backpack themselves, so that they feel real pride and ownership of it; if you’re worried about their taste, show them three or four you can live with and let them pick from that. Consider having a Pre-K child’s backpack personalized with an embroidered picture, such as a fox or sailboat or ice-cream cone—it’s a monogram for a pre-reader! These things will all help your little one see their new student backpack as an exciting step towards independence and big-kid status.
A Pre-K student is just about ready to face school and the world with a degree of independence, though “just about” is the operative phrase. It’s important to remember that Pre-K children also sometimes feel timid, get uncomfortable and don’t know which adult to tell, have potty accidents and face arts-and-crafts catastrophes through no fault of their own. Sending your little one out into the world with a properly-stocked backpack can make a world of difference to both them and their teacher or caregiver. Here is what we recommend:
With some encouragement and thoughtful planning, your Preschooler will feel ready to take on the world with their new personalized backpack. It will help them get used to the routine of school and build good study habits, as well as guard against the little misadventures that befall most four-and-five-year-old kids. Pre-K is the ideal moment to step your little one up to a real student backpack and set them on the path of school success.