Preparing Your Child for Preschool (Part One)
If your child is around three or four, you may be considering sending him or her to preschool. Whether you want your child to experience a more educational environment, spend time with children his or her own age, or even if you just want a break for a few mornings a week, sending your child to preschool is beneficial for both short-term and long-term development.
So, what do you need to do to get your child ready? Instead of worrying about whether your child knows how to read, write, or can recite the order of the planets, it’s more important to prepare your child emotionally and even physically for preschool. Here are some tips to make the transition to preschool fun, exciting, and enjoyable for you and your little one!
Determining if Your Child Is Ready for Preschool
While nearly every study shows that children benefit from preschool socially, academically, and emotionally, you may have some reservations toward sending him or her. It’s okay to listen to those reservations because there are drawbacks to sending your child too early. After all, not every child is ready right at the same time, and while some schools don’t offer preschool until four years old, some begin as early as two.
Ask yourself these questions to see if preschool is a red light or a green light:
● Does your child struggle with separation anxiety?
● Is your child potty trained?
● Does he or she get over-stimulated easily or struggle with high-sensory environments (places where there is a lot of noise, commotion, people)?
● Is he or she capable of basic “self care” activities like taking off a coat, unzipping a lunch tote, or putting on a backpack?
● Can your child take part in group activities or does he or she require solely one-on-one attention?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, your little one may not be quite ready for preschool. And that is TOTALLY OKAY! Preschool is meant to be a fun experience and if he or she isn’t ready now, you can revisit the idea in a few months while your child grows.
If he or she is ready, read on to get prepared for this exciting new world!
Help Your Child Know What to Expect
There are tons of resources available to help you explain what preschool is like! Reading books and watching videos are a great way to open up kid-friendly dialogue about what he or she will be doing at preschool.
Books to read to your preschoolers that we LOVE:
● How Do Dinosaurs Go to School: Jane Yolen
● The Night Before Preschool: Natasha Wing
● Daniel Goes to School (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood): Becky Friedman
● Schoolies: My First Day of School: Ellen Crimi-Trent, Roger Priddy
● Don’t Feed the WorryBug: Andi Green (This isn’t about school, but it is great to show children how to talk about their feelings and not let worry overwhelm them!)
Also, both Sesame Streetand Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhoodhas episodes geared toward starting preschool, so check those out to watch with your little one!
Scope Out School Beforehand with Your Child
It’s SO important for parents to scope out the preschool before enrolling your child, but it’s also really important for your child to take a tour, too, so he or she is not scared or overwhelmed at this big, new place! See if you can schedule a tour with you and your child to meet the teacher and see the classroom and common areas.
Ask if there is a parent’s Facebook group you can join and ask about setting up a playgroup before your child starts. If your son or daughter makes friends before he or she starts school, it will be less scary and more exciting and fun!
Practice Preschool Skills
So many parents worry that their child will be “behind” when they start preschool, but don’t worry. They’re going to school to learn stuff, so as long as they’re excited to go, they’ll do fine. However, there are a few ways to make that transition to school easier for you, your child, and the teacher.
● Taking turns: If your child is an only child or doesn’t have many friends his or her age to play with, taking turns may be a foreign concept. However, it’s an important one for school. Try playing board games like Chutes & Ladders or CandyLand or shooting baskets (a laundry basket and balled up socks are fine!) to practice simple turn-taking abilities while explaining the concept as you go.
● Sharing: Just like taking turns, sharing is one of those skills your child may not have had to practice. Ask your child if you can see a toy he or she is playing with, and turn it into a role-playing experience.
● Simple Self-Care: With limited teachers and teacher’s aides, your child is going to have to master a few skills before preschool. Things like knowing how to zip and unzip his or her lunch bag and backpack, put on socks, shoes, and coats, and washing hands are all things you and your child can practice before preschool starts. If there are other expectations, ask the teacher what she would recommend your child knows.
Listen to Your Child’s Concerns
This is the most important way to prepare your child for preschool because to him or her, this is HUGE! It’s normal for there to be some worries or concerns, and all the books and role-playing can’t take the place of listening and respecting your child’s worries.
For example, instead of just saying, “It will be fine!” or “You’re going to do great!” if your child says, “I’m scared,” or “I don’t want to go,” open a conversation. While your three year old may not be able to go into a lot of detail, they can probably tell you what’s bothering them. Then, make sure you explain that you understand and walk them through how they’ll be okay or safe.
In Part Two of this two-part preschool series, I’m going to share my tips for gearing up, getting routines in place, and surviving that first day, so be sure to check that out!
When you’re ready to make your child an official preschooler, send him or her off in style with clothes from Piper Jade Kids! We offer clothes that are unique and gorgeous without sacrificing comfort and quality so you don’t have to worry about their outfits interrupting their play. From soft t-shirts and shorts to warm sweaters and pants, you can feel confident that your little one looks and feels ready to take on preschool! Sign up for our newsletter and get 20 percent off your first purchase!