Starting preschool is a big step in your child’s life. To help them get off to the right start, we can help prepare our children through working with them weeks before they begin. Remember to keep it slow paced to keep from overwhelming your child with too much at once and always make it fun to help them interact and retain information better.
A great way to get started is through incorporating preschool routines at home and using pretend play to help your child learn about preschool. Take turns being the parent, child, and teacher. Act out daily routines like saying good-bye to mommy and/or daddy, taking off your coat, reading stories, singing songs, playing outside, having circle time, and taking naps. Help your child feel in control by answering their questions patiently. Reassure your child that preschool is a good place and that they will have fun, learn, and make new friends. These different actions, like taking a nap, eating at a certain time, and more are useful to help get your pre-preschooler into a routine, especially for those struggling with a schedule for their child.
You can find books about preschool at your local library and online full of information to help you with your specific child needs. Read children books on preschool together and talk about the books after you are done. Ask your child how they are feeling when learning about preschool. Read books for parents to help you learn how to help your child through the transition, and more. Start reading the books over the summer that are geared towards them to help..
Make a game of self-help skills like unzipping their coat, hanging their coat on the hook, putting on their backpack, and tying their shoes. You can have races with your child to see who can put on their shoes the fastest. When you play school together you can practice the things they have learned. If they will be bringing packed lunch, have a picnic a couple of times so they can practice taking out their food.
Take a tour of the preschool with your child and allow them to ask questions. Show them where their room will be. Make it a fun day. Every child is different, and being at daycare daily before starting preschool does not mean that preschool start will be easy. Some children are overly comfortable and some struggle at first. Try to pick up on any cues you see along the way to help when and where you can, if your child struggles with this new change. Listen to your child’s worries and fears. Do not dismiss them. Also watch for nonverbal messages. Sometimes your child does not know how to tell you what they are feeling.
About 2 weeks before the big day, take them to purchase their first backpack. If possible, let your child pick out the backpack. This will help give them a sense of control. Make sure to point out that they are a big kid now. Label all of your child’s items with their name on it. You will also want to talk to your child about the morning and afternoon routine. Let them know what to expect.
Around this time you will want to start having them go to bed at the time they will when they start school. This will give them time to adjust to the new schedule.
The night asking different questions to try and answer any questions your child has as our little ones are still at a time where it is hard to explain their feelings. Let your child choose the clothes they will be wearing for their first day. Try to not make a big deal out of the first day and don’t focus on it too much unless they want to. Try to keep the bedtime routine smoothly and relaxing.
The morning of the big day, make sure you wake your child up with plenty of time so they don’t feel rushed. Make breakfast for your child and if possible sit down to eat with them. If you can’t sit down, at least talk with them while you get ready and they eat. Review the day’s routine with your child. Pack your child’s backpack. If they are bringing a lunch, try and pick out their favorite snacks.
Plan to stay an extra 15 minutes after you get to the preschool. Explore the classroom together and meet some of the other children. Remember to keep your tone upbeat and positive. When you are leaving, if you hear your child crying, try and resist running back to them. This will be the hard part because we all hate to hear our child cry. Instead, you can wait outside the classroom for a few minutes to ensure that all is well, or call the school later in the morning to check-in.
If you feel your child may not be ready for preschool education-wise than begin early and work through getting fun flashcards and games to focus on building basic counting, colors, and shape skills needed. Testing for preschool allows us as parents to have laid out the areas of struggle, but many times we can see problems before. Begin working with them if you see problems but ensure to focus on struggle areas you find during testing.
Preparing your child for their first day of preschool does not have to be complicated. Remember to have fun and not overdo it.