What should you pack in your child's school bag?

This article was first published in August 2019

Starting primary school is an exciting time for you and your child. There are some items they’ll definitely need on their first day and there are others that will be handy to have. Here’s five things your child will need to bring when they start school.

Remember, some of these items can be reused from older siblings or picked up in a charity shop rather than bought new.

Book bag

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Your child's school will provide information on how to get hold of a book bag. It is where your child will keep their homework, some projects they make in class and notes from their teacher.

It’s always good to check your child’s book bag each day as their teacher may have left a note for you or some feedback on their work. Plus it’s a good idea to make sure they haven’t accidentally left any lunch in there or picked up somebody else’s work.

Water bottle

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Children aged between 4-8 years old need around 1.2 litres of water a day. Having a water bottle can remind your little one to have regular drinks of water to stay hydrated.

Water is a good choice for children because it hydrates them without providing extra calories or risking harm to their teeth. Water will be needed more when they are playing or running around in PE so remind them about this.

PE kit

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PE is a regular part of school life but the amount of time your child gets to run around depends on the school. They can usually expect a minimum of two hours of PE and games per week - the school will let you know which days your child needs to bring their kit.

Children will need comfortable clothes, which are easy to get on and off. A t-shirt (usually white), black sports shorts and black slip-on pumps will do the trick. PE is usually outside, even if it is cold and windy so it might be helpful to pack a light jumper and some joggers as well.


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If your child is taking a packed lunch they will need a lunch box or bag to carry it in. Make sure they can open the lunchbox themselves as some containers can prove tricky for little ones. Why not download three week's worth of ideas for nutritious and easy packed lunches that you could make for your child?

The lunchbox will need to be the right size for your child. Too small and it won’t fit in enough food, too big and the food will slide around and could make a mess. To stop food sliding around, you could pack individual items in separate smaller containers to go inside the lunch box or bag.


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A standard pair of shoes is great for when the weather is dry and hot in the spring and summer months. However, wellies are a handy item to have in the cupboard for your child for a wet or snowy day. They can keep their feet dry during playtime and when they are walking to and from school.

It’s worth asking the school to make sure they are allowed to wear wellies but they will help keep your child’s feet dry during those rainy days.

Know someone starting primary school soon? Check out the rest of Starting Primary School which has lots of ways to help prepare children for different aspects of school life – both practically and emotionally.

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