How To Prepare Your Child For Preschool in 5 Easy Steps
If children came with manuals, one of the most well thumbed chapters would be the one that instructs you how to prepare your child for preschool. Whether your child loves or hates the idea of kindergarten, that first day is a big deal for both of you.
I know how tricky it can be when you don’t know where to begin. The good news is that by following a few simple tips, you and your child can have fun together as you prepare for their grand adventure. Whether you choose to follow some or all the advice below, remember to keep your cool. Children know when we are anxious, flustered, or emotional, and if your child picks up those vibes from you, then preparing for your child’s first day at school could have the opposite effect!
Let KISS (Keep It Sweet & Simple) be your mantra, as you both get ready for the big day.
Read Stories About Preschool
My love of books meant my children got a bedtime story when they were younger, so I am happy to recommend story time to parents who want to know about preparing your toddler for preschool. Check your local library or bookshop for picture books with stories about the first day at school, and do not be shy to ask for recommendations. Toby and Friends books are also a great option, as they can help your child learn valuable lessons about making new friends, and how to help others too.
Children learn through play, and so playing is something else that I suggest to parents who want to know how to prepare their child for preschool. The teacher-child scenario is just one of many that you can use. It is an important one, but it also is important to help your child get used to saying goodbye to their parents, to story-time, to outdoor play, and to nap-time in a school context. Through all of this, remind your child that school is about fun, friends, and learning new things.
Purchase School Supplies Together
A great way of preparing for your child’s first day at school is to do the shopping together. Most, if not all, preschools give parents a list of recommended and required items. Take your child to the shops and let them choose appropriate items, such as their backpack and their blanket. This will help give your child a sense of empowerment and inclusion. You can also let them pack their favourite toy or a Toby and Friends book when they head off to school, so they have something familiar with them.
Ask About Visiting or Playing At the School
Another tip for preparing your toddler for preschool is to visit and even play at the school together. You will need permission, but also be prepared to receive ‘no’ for an answer, because some schools do not allow children to visit before the first day. Such kindergartens usually have a few days to a week of orientation programmes that are designed to help children make friends and to ease into the new environment. It’s also a great idea to get your little one into the ‘get ready for school routine’ in the morning for a week or so before the big day. Them being used to the routine will make it so much easier on you both!
Questions and Answers
I’ve always told parents who have asked me how to prepare your child for preschool to communicate with their children. Listen to any questions your child asks about school, and then do your best to answer them with patience. The questions asked by your child will give you some insight into the positive and negative ideas they have about it. Ask your child questions as well; questions that help frame schooling positively, such as asking them who is going to make lots of new friends at school. The Toby and Friends books also include questions and answers, so you can use these as a starting point to get your child used to communicating in this format.
Bonus Tip: Attend a Playgroup
My bonus tip on how to prepare your child for preschool is something that many parents don’t think of as an essential. However. especially if a child has no siblings it can be very overwhelming if they are suddenly surrounded by other children for long periods of time. For as long as possible before they go to preschool, take them to a playgroup or regular play sessions. This closely replicates the preschool environment and will make them feel comfortable with other little ones, improve their social skills and make it easier for them to adapt. It will also teach them expected behaviour, and make the transition that much simpler.
Starting preschool is an adventure and a positive step in growth and development, but it can be an emotional one for both parents and children. By preparing your little one for what lies ahead you’ll both enjoy the process so much more.