I was about to make another “essentials” list, but I am far from the expert on back-to-school. My kids are homeschooled three days a week and attend a preschool program two days a week. This creates a unique list of needs and requirements as we have our feet dipped in both sides of the pond (did I just make that phrase up? It felt right until I typed it, but I digress.) I always like to know what people actually use. Not what looks great or sounds interesting but what they actually use and love. Since I work to create the content I most enjoy, here are the things I purchased for back to school this year.
Keogena and Oshiolema’s preschool is a completely nut-free environment. Since the kids are gluten and dairy free, lots of the food I make for them and purchase for them is made with nuts and this is a whole new adventure for us. I have lofty goals of making a couple crock pot meals early in the week to give them on the days we homeschool (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and keep celery on hand so they can have veggies, fruit and ants on a log as a snack for those days. On school days, a no brainer lunch is yogurt and berries in their thermos, a turkey and vegan cheese sandwich, sliced up fruit, pepper slices and granola bites. This may sound like a big lunch but my.kids.can.eat.
Their school also requires that they have every single thing labeled. I use a good ol’ sharpie for their clothes bur for everything else, I’m using these labels which I highly recommend. They have about a million different options to customize but Oshiolema is super into lightning bolts at the moment and Keogena, as always, can’t quit pink.
When it comes to ‘back to school clothing,’ it feels right to splurge and get all these fancy items but my philosophy is this: let them be kids. When we’re home and doing crafts or playing in the dirt I put them in their cost-me-nothing, already-on-it’s-last-leg clothes or just take their clothes off altogether. It took one time for Lema to come home with paint splattered on his clothing for me to remember they can’t quite strip the kids down at school. Since the kids only go to school two days a week, I let them choose their outfit from two drawers that are all casual school-safe clothes. Here are some favorites that you can actually send your kids to school in.
As a little note on my personal style when it comes to kids. I’ve yet to ever put Keogena in a stiff pair of pants like denim or corduroys. I try to make sure her wardrobe is classic and feminine and soft and sweet rather than cool or edgy or funky. This means lots of simple play dresses with little biker shorts underneath (these are my favorites which we get asked about all the time! I like to have at least 4.) I also stay away from jumpsuits for her on school days because it’s that much harder to go potty-jumpsuits are a job for mom!
When it comes to Oshiolema, I don’t mind his style being a little bit cooler or more athletic but I still stay away from trends and keep his wardrobe mostly neutral and classic as well. O was frustrated with me for not letting him wear bright colors of his favorite characters on his clothing (you guys, it’s my worst nightmare) so I’ve started to let go a little bit and get the transformers tee shirt and the bright red joggers just to let him live a little. You’re only 4 once, you know?
Oshiolema only rests at school so he goes with a towel, but Keogena takes this nap mat every day since she actually sleeps. And three years strong, these hydroflasks are our favorite water bottle for the babes.
I talk about what the school year will look like for us this year in this post, so if you haven’t read that yet, head there first and come back to this one. After much deliberation, we decided to do a very loose version of Peaceful Preschool for Keogena (turns 3 on Thursday!) and Sonlight for Oshiolema. We loved Peaceful Preschool last year and while it was a whoolleee lot of work, once you get the hang of it and learn how to prep on weekends and get comfortable with many trips to the library, it’s fantastic. I love the approach they take to learning which leans heavily on exploring in nature, helping in the kitchen and reading aloud. It is just a lovely curriculum and i’m looking forward to doing it again with the lady.
Oshiolema really took to learning to read this summer and tends to be pretty advanced when it comes to learning. With that being said, I still want to take things slowly and let him take his time to really soak up everything he learns without rushing him along. I chose the Pre-K program with the “learning to read” option. This means all other subjects will be the Pre-K level but the entirety of Language Arts will be the Kindergarten level. The Sonlight curriculum is a Christian program that believes firmly in the importance of reading aloud to kids. This means lots and lots and lots of books which we love.
We’re renting this house so there isn’t a designated room that quite fits exactly what we have in mind for a future homeschool room, but we have transformed the upstairs landing room into our “school zone” for now. These are the things I’ve found most helpful storage wise:
Happy school time, friends!