Starting preschool is a major milestone in your little ones’ lives as they embark on a new phase away from home and transition to an unfamiliar environment. This stage in their development can bring a host of conflicting emotions such as excitement and apprehension. But luckily there are a few simple things parents and children can do together to help smooth their journey into preschool.
Well-meaning parents make the reasonable mistake of preparing their children months in advance but the build-up this far in advance can overwhelm your future preschooler. Instead, start having casual and cheery conversations with your little one about what to expect a few weeks before class starts. Exploring pretend play and acting out common daily school activities such as singing songs, reading stories and sitting in a group circle can also help your children get ready for their big day.
Visit your child’s school and meet the teacher a few days before his or her first day. Walkthrough the classroom and discuss what he or she can expect throughout the day.
Reading books about starting school can ease back to school nerves. In addition, reading in general nurtures their creative imagination builds your children’s vocabulary and sets them up for success.
Since your child will most likely be expected to follow a routine at school, it’s important to establish one at home. Parents can start in the morning by helping their little ones make the bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth and gather their belongings to head out the door. Routines and daily schedules provide a structured setting for children to mentally prepare for the day and understand the concept of time.
Let your preschooler know it’s normal to have first day jitters and feel a combination of mixed emotions. Allow them to share their worries with you and brainstorm ways to deal with them. When it’s time to say good-bye, keep your tone upbeat and positive and calmly reassure them that you will return at the end of the day.
The night before, pack your child’s backpack together. To add some comfort and familiarity, choose their favorite snacks and drinks. Let them also bring a special toy or security blanket to smooth the transition to a new environment and facilitate naptime as well.