Starting preschool is an exciting new adventure for both you and your child and it marks the next step in your child’s development. Here are a few tips and strategies for how to prepare your child for preschool so that it will be a seamless transition as well as a positive experience for both of you.
1. Talk About Preschool
A great way to begin is by getting your child used to the idea of going to preschool. You can do this by having positive conversations and talking about all the fun activities they will be doing.
If you can why not walk or take a drive past the preschool about two or three weeks before your child is due to start. That way they will be able to get a clear picture of what the preschool building actually looks like. It’s easier to talk to your child about preschool when they have at least some idea of what it looks like.
Of course, if your child is not interested in talking about preschool then it’s best not to push the subject. Try and keep any conversations about preschool short and casual. The last thing you want to do is make your child anxious by making it into a big deal.
2. Prepare Your Child By Visiting Preschool
Preschools usually offer orientation days or visits. These are a great way to prepare your child for preschool. Children can spend some time meeting the educators and experiencing some of the activities. Unfortunately due to COVID, this might not be currently possible.
Some preschools do however send home orientation packs. Inside these packs, you will find things like photos of the preschool and the educators. You may also receive information about the preschool routine and maybe some songs your children will be learning.
So even if you are unable to visit the preschool you can still use these resources to familiarise your child with what preschool is all about.
3. Read Books About Preschool
There are many books all about starting preschool and you can spend time reading them with your child. This is a wonderful opportunity to answer any questions that may come up. Books will show them positive experiences about going to preschool and give them some idea of what their day may look like. Here is a list of some books about starting preschool
- Maisie Goes To Preschool by Lucy Cousins
- Spot Goes To School by Eric Hill
- I’m Ready For Preschool by Jedda Robaard
- The Night Before Preschool by Natasha King and Amy Wummer
- The Berenstain Bears Go To School by Stan and Jan Bernstain
4. Practice Some Self Help Skills to Prepare Your Child For Preschool
When children have good self-help skills it increases their confidence, reduces any stress or anxiety, and very importantly it boosts their self-esteem. So it is essential to give your child plenty of opportunities to practice their self-help skills so they may be able to manage the following things
- Putting on their shoes and socks
- Unzipping their backpack
- Manage their own toileting
- Be able to open their lunchboxes, drink bottles and unwrap their sandwiches
Of course, the educators are always more than happy to assist your child with all of those things. But practicing self-help skills is important to promote children’s independence.
5. Purchase Preschool Essentials With Your Child
Another useful thing to do to prepare your child for preschool is to take them with you when you buy things like backpacks, lunch boxes, and drink bottles. Many lunch boxes are way too difficult for small fingers and this also applies to drink bottles as well. So consider taking the time to make sure you buy the right lunchbox and drink bottle so that your child can open them easily. Their preschool day will be so much happier if they are able to open and close their own things!
6. Label Everything
There are so many labeling options from fancy designed labels to good old permanent markers. Whichever one you choose is fine as long as you remember to write your child’s name on everything they will be bringing to preschool. Things like backpacks, hats, lunch boxes, drink bottles, spare clothes, and sheets and blankets.
It’s also a good idea to show your child where their name is. It will make them familiar with their name as well as avoid confusion in case there is another child at preschool who owns the same or similar item.
7. Have A Good Bedtime Schedule
Another important way to prepare your child for preschool is by making sure they are well rested. Those first few weeks of preschool can be so exhausting for them so it is essential that they have a good bedtime routine so they get sufficient sleep. You really want to avoid a tired cranky child who will find it a struggle to get through the day.
How To Prepare Your Child For The First Day Of Preschool
- Try and make sure you and your child wake up early enough so that the morning isn’t a stressful rush.
- Prepare your child some breakfast and encourage them to eat. Sometimes nerves may get in the way of appetite but try and make sure they have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy breakfast.
- Pack a simple lunch your child is familiar with and keep the choice of food to a minimum. Young children will become very easily stressed if they are faced with too many choices.
- Pack your child’s backpack together so they know exactly what they are taking to preschool and they know where their things are inside their backpack.
Stay For A Short Period Of Time
On the first day, you may want to stay for a little while. Try and make sure it is no longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Perhaps you could do one activity with your child and then say goodbye. Ask the educators to support your child if you see that they are struggling with separation.
Be Positive, Confident, and Cheerful!!
Your child will sense any hesitation, worry, or anxiety. So try very hard to be happy and positive when it comes time to say goodbye. Reassure them that you love them and you will be back to pick them up.
After a quick kiss and cuddle say goodbye and whatever you do, don’t linger! Unfortunately, this is one of the worst things you can do especially if your child is struggling to say goodbye. Try and stay strong and trust that the educators are there to support your child. Children will settle so much faster after parents leave.
If it has been a particularly difficult separation ring the preschool during the day to check how your child is going. Then make sure to pick them up early the first few days. Once your child begins to settle then you can stretch the day a bit longer. Talk to the preschool educators and together you can come up with good strategies to make saying goodbye easier.
Communicate With Your Child’s Educators
By keeping the lines of communication open with your child’s teachers you will be able to share important helpful information with them. This will help your child transition to preschool if the educators are aware of their likes, dislikes, favourite books, or popular culture that they are interested in.
What To Do If Your Child Is Having Trouble Settling
Starting preschool is an exciting time for your child. However, it is not uncommon for children to be very anxious when it comes to separating from their parents. Don’t forget that it can take some time for children to develop trusting relationships with people outside of their family.
Some Ideas And Suggestions If Your Child Is Feeling Apprehensive About Going To Preschool
- Talk to your child’s educators about how to deal with the things that may be causing your child to worry. Together you and your child’s educators will be able to work out effective strategies to help your child settle into preschool.
- Keep being positive and reassure your child about preschool if they bring it up in conversation.
- Sometimes it may help if your child can bring a comforting toy, soft teddy, or blanket from home. Talk to the educators and ask them if this is possible. This may help in the early days of preschool and as your child grows more confident you will be able to gradually phase this out.
Preschool Is Fun!
Your child will have lots of fun, make friends and learn so much at preschool. It is the beginning of their schooling journey and it is important to prepare your child so that starting preschool is a smooth process. Be sure to remember to keep the preparation process as low-key as possible. You want your child to be prepared but not overwhelmed.