School days are here to stay, at least until the next break. Summer is officially over. BOOO! If you are a newbie parent in Sweden, you may be worried about how to get ready for preschool. Leaving your kid for the first time to strangers and especially when you don’t know the language can be scary. A lot of questions come to your mind, and a mix of feelings arise. It’s even worse when you don’t receive any list beforehand about what to bring to school.
What should I bring? What should I buy? How is the school introduction? Can I trust the staff? I had thousands of questions like these when my kid started. And now, I have done this process twice. Once when my kiddo was one year old and the second time came just this year. She is 2 years old. These recommendations may vary a little from school to school. A lot depends on the age of your children. Even if your kid has already started, this guide can help you to go through your own checklist. Here comes my best preparation tips for you, your partner, your kid, and the school.
Introduction to Preschool/ Inskolning in Swedish
Every preschool has different ways to introduce your children to their new environment. The introduction period generally takes between 1 to 2 weeks, but it also depends on your kid’s adaptation. From my own experience, this time is favorable not only for your kid but also for you as a parent because you get to know more the school, the schedule, their daily routines, how they supervise the kids both indoors and outdoors. In addition to the school’s methods, this period helps you with the separation anxiety and also gives you the confidence to leave your kid at school.
Typically, the school will send you all the information about how this stage is going to happen so you can prepare and organize your schedule with your partner. In the beginning, you are required to be there the whole day, and later, your presence is needed less and less until your child is ready to be by his/her own. One crucial matter to mention during this milestone is the communication with the school staff. They continuously give you feedback about how your child is adapting. Remember that they are on your side and for them, your child’s adjustment is the most crucial part of this stage.
There is a lot to think and learn about children’s clothes in this country. I truly believe you need a course about all the things you need to consider to protect your kid during the school period. This also applies to what you need to have at home. You will need clothes that can work inside and outside for the entire week. My best tip is to count how many complete outfits you have in the closet and go from there. The whole outfit should include: shirt, pants, socks, and a sweater.
I had no idea about labels for kid’s clothes. Preschool is a pretty messy place by nature. Part of your responsibilities as a parent includes marking every item you are going to leave at school. Remember that the school doesn’t have just one kid. They have at least 20. These labels help them to sort the items correctly. There are several options you can consider:
- Buy a pen that you can use to write on clothes and do it manually.
- There are some clothing brands that they have tags where you can write your kids name.
- Buy printed labels that can be washed and are easy to remove. This is the option I selected for my kid. They are fast, and you can personalize it. Here in this Swedish article, you can find more alternatives.
The school doesn’t provide diapers. As a parent, you are responsible for bringing the diapers for your child. Your kid will be provided with an individual cabinet, and you can leave the package there. Don’t forget to write your kids name too. In my weekly routine, I always include checking the diapers bag in case the school needs more.
Autumn and Winter Clothes/ Höst och Vinterkläder
One good advice that I can provide in this section is to think about clothes that are comfortable and easy to put on and off. Items such as velcro runners, large buttons, loose and elastic-waisted pants, no tights for example. These items don’t only benefit your kid’s independence and skills but also eases the school’s staff daily routines and activities inside and outside. Concerning outfits and wardrobe, here comes a list and number of items to bring and change every week:
- 5 Shirts and Sweaters with colorful or character prints. (T-shirts & Tröjor)
- 5 Pants (Byxor)
- 3 knickers or panties (Trosor, kalsonger)
- 5 socks (sockar)
- 1 Raincoat with rain pants (Regnjacka och byxor). The size should be a little bit bigger so your kid can use an overall under. Don’t forget the hood or the rain hat.
- 1 Rain Overall (Regnoverall) that can work for spring and fall
- Rain boots with thermal socks. (Gummistövlar och tjocksockar)
- Rain gloves that you can wear the whole year with light colors. (Galonvantar)
- 2 jackets (Jackor) water resistant in the outside and warm in the inside
- 1 winter overall that resists moisture and fits your kid (Vinteroverall)
- Light Cap and Warmer Cap (En Tunn Mössa och en Varmare Mössa )
- Ruff (halskrage)
- Light or Warmer Mittens (Tunna och Tumvantar)
- 1 Winter Gloves ( Vinterhandskar) A tip is to try them on and let your kiddo hold something and see if they are comfortable.
- 3 Fleece Overall with a long zipper.
- 1 Winter Boots
- Extra Shoes depending on the season
Clothing Extra tips
The whole list sounds a little bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a big budget and you don’t want to spend too much money just in your children’s clothes. These are super helpful resources to lower expenses:
- Loppis or Second-hand Markets: Loppis is the Swedish name for flea markets. Check out the flea markets near your neighborhood. Usually, you can find the necessary items in good conditions and affordable prices.
- Facebook Groups can be beneficial and resourceful. They can give you advice about flea markets, events or tips on where to buy the clothes you are missing. A simple Facebook search will help you uncover existing Facebook groups that are relevant to your inquiry. One group that I have found really helpful is Stockholm for kids.
- Second-hand Stores like Myrorna, Red Cross are trendy in Sweden, and they are almost everywhere in the country. They have an area for children where they sell seasonal clothes, toys, books, etc. Not long ago in Stockholm, I found a new second-hand store that specializes in kids, it’s called ByeBuy.
- Mobile Apps are popping up every day. One that I find really useful is called Sellpy where you are going to find second-hand clothes, gadgets, and objects for different ages and purposes.
What are the opening hours of your preschool? Every school has different timetables. Most of the schools publish their schedules and daily routine on their website. In our case, the opening hours were one of the key factors to choose our current preschool.
Apart from the opening hours, your preschool is going to ask you two important questions. The first question is regarding your current situation, for instance: are you a full- time employee, job seeker, etc? The second question is how you are planning to use your weekly hours. They will give you or send you a template to fill. Why these two questions? Your activities can affect your plans and the monthly preschool tuition that you have to pay to the municipality. To clarify this point, I will give you an example:
If you are unemployed or job seeker in Botkyrka municipality, you only have 35 hours of preschool for your kid. The preschool knows what applies in your case, so you just need to ask.
Routine is crucial in Sweden. It’s part of their DNA. As part of your integration or culture immersion, you will need to embrace this routine addiction. Plan your day and don’t forget that it’s really important to spare some time to make family routines smoother. Set time aside for hanging out after school, establish bedtime, set things up the night before (clothes, shoes, ties, hairbrush) and get up with plenty of time to get ready for the day and to have breakfast together. All these activities are essential. Rush and stress are negative for your kid and planning can help to avoid them.
Most preschools serve meals and snacks depending on their opening hours. Here in Sweden, you are not going to be able to pack snacks or food for your kid because of the allergies that other kids could have. In case of allergies or nutrition issues with your kid, clearly, let the school know. It’s vital that you ask the staff if your kid ate or not during the day, especially during their introduction period.
Outdoor Activities/ Utevistelse
Your children are playing outside no matter what the weather is. In Swedish preschools, children play outside at every opportunity and in some schools they play twice a day. It’s essential to prepare your kid with the best possible and comfortable outwear.
School Calendar/ Kalendarium
Have you received the school’s calendar? One critical key to your organization is the school calendar where all parents are expected to book important dates and adjust their schedules due to staffs planning, teachers conference, special holidays and other possible events. In the calendar, you can find out when the school is having planning and development meetings with their staff, holiday periods, parents meeting, your kid’s development talk, and more. It’s important to consider a backup plan with your partner in case the preschool is closed.
Development Talks /Utvecklingssamtal
The development talk is a meeting that the school should have with the parents about their children’s development. It’s an excellent opportunity for both, preschool and parents, to discuss, reflect and find concrete tips of how kids are learning. You’ll get useful tips on how development can be strengthened inside and outside of school. In my own experience, this is really positive and valuable because you receive great insights into how your kid is growing. You can find more information about the dates inside the school calendar.
Parents Involvement/ Föräldrasamverkan
There are different ways to get involved with your kids preschool in Sweden, this can vary from place to place. One of the most common activities is the Parents Meeting that generally happens once per semester where you receive information about the school and mingle with other parents and staff.
Another possibility to get involved is School Committee that also meets once or twice per semester depending on the agenda. In addition to the activities previously mentioned, parental involvement can take place in the form of open houses and special celebrations such as Lucia in December. You can find more information about all the available options in the school calendar.
The Preschool Bill/ Avgiften för förskola
Don’t be shocked when you receive the bill from the municipality to pay the pre-school and your kid has not even started yet. According to Sweden.se “fees are calculated according to income from low-income families paying nothing while the costs for more affluent parents are capped at SEK 1,382 (about €139) per month. You can read more about this on your municipality’s website.
Illness, Safety, and Emergencies
Even though Sweden is pretty safe, it is important to take a look around the facilities and the school grounds. Ask the staff what safety measures and precautions the pre-school have put in place in case of your kid getting hurt during school hours. What is their procedure in case of emergencies or illness? Ask about their basic first aid and CPR certifications and more.
Contact Information of the School
Communication between school and home is vital. Save the numbers and emails of the principal, teachers and staff in charge of your kid’s development during school hours.
I hope this guide was helpful. Do you have any other tips or tricks you use to prepare you and the whole family for the school season? Share them in the comments section below.
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