Starting preschool is a major milestone in your child‘s life. It’s an exciting time that may come along with a little anxiety. While many children can’t wait for their first day of preschool, some have a difficult time with the transition. By preparing for preschool, you can curb separation anxiety and feel confident that they’re ready for their first day.
Preparing for Preschool With New Daily Habits
To avoid any feelings of uneasiness towards this change in your child‘s life, casually talk about preschool in a cheerful manner. Make small changes to your home life that mimic the preschool experience.
Parents can establish a routine to help make the transition to preschool easier. According to Rebecca Palacios, Ph.D., senior curriculum advisor for ABCmouse.com, “Children learn best when routines and daily schedules are established. Routines provide opportunities to learn about order, sequencing, and concepts of time. Established routines make for smoother transitions and help children to prepare mentally for the day ahead while providing frameworks in which creative learning can occur.” (Source)
Using a task chart with pictures next to each task can engage your child and remind them what to do. Preschools often have similar charts. Making one for your home will help your child become familiar with the concept.
Reading books about preschool is a great way to prepare your child for their first day. Examples include Maisy Goes to Preschool by Lucy Cousins and What to Expect at Preschool by Heidi Murkoff. Most preschools have allotted time for reading every day. Parents can read with their children for at least 15 minutes every day to get them used to this routine.
Plan social activities like playdates to help your child get used to playing and cooperating with other children. Practice self-help skills like washing hands, putting on shoes and socks, and using the bathroom independently.
3 Ways To Encourage a Love of Learning at Home
Preschoolers are curious! Through their little eyes, the world is full of potential, and a new adventure is around every corner. So how can you use this curiosity to start preparing for preschool with a strong foundation and a love for learning?
1. Plan Age Appropriate Educational Activities
Each child is different, so finding something that interests them is important. There is an abundance of free preschool resources available online. Pinterest is a great place to find activities and crafts that you can do with your preschooler. Just make sure that you keep it simple. Remember that preschoolers learn best through play.
2. Have Realistic Expectations
Research shows that children ages two and three have an attention span of around 3-4 minutes. By the age of four, this increases to about 5 to 10 minutes. Why does this matter? You need to make sure the activities you are planning to do are appropriate for where your child is developmentally.
3. Have Fun!
The ultimate goal is to make sure that your preschooler is having fun. Learning should be enjoyable for you and your child. If you find that one of the activities isn’t working, stop doing it. You want to be modeling and establishing a love for learning. At this point in your child’s life, enthusiasm for education is a much higher priority than mastery of a particular skill or completing a craft.
Facing the First Day
As the first day approaches, begin preparing for preschool by talking about their first day of school. Encourage your child about the big day with these ideas:
- Let your child pick out their backpack, school clothes, and other school supplies. This will make them feel like a “big kid,” and they’ll be excited to use them on the first day.
- Visit the school with them so they can become comfortable with it before their first day. Let them meet their preschool teacher during the visit to help ease your child‘s anxiety about being left with an unfamiliar person.
A Few Tips for the First Day
Even if you do everything you can to prepare your child for preschool, they may still feel nervous when the first day arrives.
- Listen to their worries and assure them that everyone feels nervous sometimes.
- Talk with them about what to expect.
- During drop-off time, let them know that you will be back at the end of the day to pick them up.
- Stay with them for just a couple of minutes to allow them to become comfortable with the new environment.
- Help your child get involved in the classroom so they won’t feel as nervous when you leave.
- Don’t sneak out, and always be on time to pick them up.
Preparing your child for preschool can be a daunting task. However, with some planning and practice, you can get your child ready for the big day.
This article was originally published in July 2018, but has been updated for accuracy and freshness.