A new phase in your child’s development is on the horizon, preschool and you may be approaching this major milestone with conflicting emotions. Both you are your child are bound to feel a host of feelings – excitement, apprehension, and even sadness, this is normal. Don’t worry, those countless hours reading, playing, and even exploring together has already laid the ground work for a successful transition into preschool.
Preparing your child for preschool may be different than what you are expecting. There’s a lot of fun things you can do as a family in the weeks before to get ready for the big day. However, try to keep your efforts low-key and avoid making too big of a deal out attending preschool – you could cause more worry than excitement. Here are a few ideas to help you and your little one make the transition fun and little smoother.
Before Preschool Starts:
Try to offer your child a mix of active, playful experiences and quieter, more focused activities. Color, work with play dough, or string beads together to build fine motor skills.
Use pretend play to explore the idea of preschool. Pretend that you're going to school, hanging up your backpack, and sitting down for group time. Practice sitting criss-cross-applesauce while reading stories and Play games. Reassure your child that a preschool is a good place where she will have fun and learn.
Read books about preschool. There are many books about going to preschool available from the public library in your area. Choose several to share with your child over the summer before school starts.
Visit the preschool and make sure to visit the school’s playground too! Visit your child’s preschool together. Show your child the class schedule if one is posted. Talk about what to expect during each portion of the day. Show your child where she’ll keep her backpack and personal things. If possible meet the classroom teachers a few days ahead of time. Play on the school playground a few times before your child starts the program. These visits increase your child’s comfort with and confidence in this new setting.
Have fun with practicing self-help skills. Make it a game, have a race! Some self-help skills to practice include washing their hands, using the toilet, putting shoes and socks on, hanging their coat on a hook, putting on a backpack, and using utensils at the table —all are important skills for the first days of preschool!
Acknowledge feelings. Although it’s tempting to quickly reassure your child and move on, it’s important to let your child know that his worries have been heard. Allow your child to express their feelings, listen closely and acknowledge your child's fears.