Packing the School Bag - Supporting Your Child's Development

Children are busy people! Playing with their friends, doing their chores and well, going to school! In your little one’s first years at school, they’re learning about lots of new things, including what exactly it is they need for school. Packing the school bag is a routine part of any family’s school day and it’s a great opportunity to help build your child’s language skills.


When you pack the bag, you can talk about things like:

  • What items are in/on the bag (e.g. lunchbox, reader, drink bottle, pencil case, zip).
  • How items look and feel (e.g. cold, spotty, red, big, bumpy).
  • Counting (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 pieces of apple).
  • Concepts (e.g. in, on, before, after, first, last, next to, on top, outside; the tomatoes are in the container, your drink is next to your lunchbox, your pencil case is on top of your lunchbox).

Knowing lots of words is important for children. The bigger a child’s vocabulary it is, the easier it will make it for them to understand instructions, have conversations and complete schoolwork! Knowing the names of items in their school bag is particularly important for children – these are things they’ll be using all the time and talking about with their friends at school. Naming items in the bag and showing your child how to use these words in sentences is a great way to help them learn these words.

Following Instructions

Use smaller or bigger instructions depending on the level your child is at.

2 key words:

  • find your drink bottle
  • zip the bag

3 key words:

  • “put your lunchbox in your bag
  • “put your reader behind your lunchbox

4 key words:

  • “put your drink in after your hat
  • “put your folder behind your big book

Help your child learn to follow instructions by giving them the opportunity to practice when packing their bag! Giving your child instructions about how to pack their bag can also help them to understand how things best fit inside their bag so they can become more independent with this task.

Social Skills

Turn taking - take turns putting items into your child’s bag with them. Use words and gestures to help them follow along with whose turn it is (e.g. “it’s your turn next!” while pointing to them). You can make this trickier for your child by asking them whose turn it is too.

Making requests – encourage your child to ask for items they need in their bag (instead of just saying what they want or snatching!). When they’re packing their bag, pass the items to your child once they’ve asked for them. If your child states what they want, show them how they can ask a question (e.g. “you say… can I have my pencil case please?”) and encourage your child to repeat the question. Hand your child the item once they’ve asked for it to reinforce asking questions.

It’s important for children to have good social skills, such as turn taking and making requests, as this behavior is liked by others and can help your child to make friends with their peers.

Packing your child’s bag with them really can offer lots of opportunities to help your child develop their language skills! When encouraging your child to use and understand new language, use lots of praise and encouragement. You can even make these activities more fun by setting time limits and using sticker charts or collecting tokens!

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