Preschool Buying Guide

If play is the work of children, preschool is their jobsite. This preschool buying guide will help you choose toys that promote both play and learning.

Preschool 101

Preschool-age children are sponges, soaking up information and learning new skills at a rapid rate. You can encourage your kids’ natural curiosity by providing them with a broad selection of preschool toys. Your options include traditional learning toys like puzzles and books, electronic learning toys with sound and full-motion screens, pretend toys and traditional arts and crafts supplies. In particular, educational toys give children a good head start when it comes to early reading and writing, communication and creativity, fine motor skills and attention span. By introducing your child to learning at an early age, you're also preparing him or her for the inevitable transition from home to school. Before purchasing a preschool toy ensure it is age-appropriate for your child, and that it meets all of Health Canada’s requirements for children’s products.

Preschool Essentials


Transitional Toys

Your preschooler will need emotional support during the transition from home to daycare or preschool. Transitional toys can play an important role in helping children manage their fears and concerns during this challenging period. Common objects adopted as transitional toys include plush toys and baby blankets. You can introduce potential transitional toys in the hopes your child adopts them, but the choice, ultimately, is the child's to make. Focus on toys that are soft and cuddly as they'll come in handy during naps. Consider buying two identical (and, ideally, easy to wash) transitional toys, so you can clean one while the other is being used. 

Learning Toys

Providing young kids with learning toys can help them reach developmental milestones sooner, making the transition to preschool even easier. Build language and critical thinking skills by reading with your child every night, encouraging your child to answer questions and look at the pictures. At this point, kids are also testing their physical abilities and developing fine motor skills; you can help your child progress more quickly by providing puzzles, balls and push-and-pull toys that engage and challenge them. There are learning toys for every subject, from reading to math to simple chemistry.

Electronic Learning Toys

Electronic learning toys can enhance the traditional preschool learning your child gets at home. Electronic learning toys take many forms: there are tablets, headphones, preschool apps and interactive books. But the best toys are those that engage your child’s mind and imagination. Compared to conventional toys, electronic learning toys can cost a bit more, but they're an investment your child can profit from in the long run.

Arts & Crafts Supplies

Art supplies and crafts supplies encourage creativity, introduce kids to colours and shapes and help them to develop fine motor skills. Popular arts and crafts materials include paper, crayons, chalk, watercolours, play clay and washable markers. Have your children work on large pieces of paper on even larger work surfaces, so they're less inclined to stray to the walls and other potential canvases. For easy cleanup when accidents happen, purchase watercolour paint and washable markers.

Pretend Play Toys

Whether it’s dressing up or throwing a tea party, pretend play toys can spark a child’s imagination like nothing else. Some of the most popular types allow kids to emulate mom and dad, which means parents can join in the fun too. These include kitchen play sets, workbenches and toolsets, baby and stroller sets, and dolls and dollhouses. Having your child role-play and test out real-life objects teaches valuable life skills, and might even spark a lifelong passion. Since complex play sets can be an investment, consider testing the water by buying some pieces one at a time. If your child's interest is sustained, you can buy more later.

Preschool Gear

There's a short list of essential gear that your toddler might need for school. Preschool and daycare centres often ask kids to bring their own nap mat, which helps prevent the spread of germs between kids. Your child may also require a sweater to stay warm in class when the temperature dips. Some preschools require children to bring basic school supplies, such as a notebook and pencils. And you'll want to tuck a healthy snack or two into your child’s lunch bag for some much-needed energy through the day. A reusable water bottle container will come in handy to keep your child hydrated.

First Day of Preschool Tips:

  • Before the big day, read a book or watch a DVD with your child about the first day of preschool
  • Attend the preview visit that many preschools offer before the start of the year, so your child can meet his or her new classmates
  • Teach your child some of the basic life skills they’ll have to master in preschool, such as taking turns, asking for things politely and learning to wait
  • Make sure that your child’s sleeping schedule is on track at least a week before school starts

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Playing With Your Preschooler Tips:

  • Try to read to your child daily; during reading sessions, your child will be more engaged if you ask questions and let him or her hold the book and turn the pages
  • Try to strike a balance between outdoor activities, electronic learning toys, regular toys and puzzles; this way, your child gets to practice a wide variety of skills
  • Follow the recommended ages for toys
  • Never leave your child unattended while playing
  • Check for small parts and loose strings in toys; if you find any, discard the toy
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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