Are you nervous about sending your child off to preschool for the first time? It’s completely normal for both parent and child to feel worried about what preschool will be like. There are a number of ways you can help your child to feel more prepared for preschool when the time comes. Here we detail 7 beneficial things you can do to help your child feel ready on their first day of preschool.
1. Play Pretend: Bring Preschool To Life
It’s hard for children to convince adults to play pretend, but kids love when parents do! Offer up the chance to play pretend with your child, set the scenario as a day in the life of going to preschool.
You can start off playing the teacher to show your child what a typical day in the classroom might be like. You can also offer up the option to switch places, letting your child play the teacher and you the student. This allows a great opportunity to show your child how they should and should not act while interacting with teachers and peers. Keep it light-hearted and full of laughter, so that your child is learning to associate preschool with good times.
2. Visit The Preschool Ahead of Time
There’s nothing adults dislike more than the unknown, and for children it is largely the same. The first time your child goes to preschool doesn’t have to be the first time they check out the campus. You want your child to be familiar with the school before they go; this helps them feel more confident and prepared.
You can call ahead to arrange a tour of the preschool, so that your child can see the classrooms, play area, etc. Driving by or walking around the outskirts of the preschool can also be helpful, just being in the area can ease your child’s mind about going to preschool.
3. Communicate About Preschool Frequently
Communicating with little kids is easier said than done, but try as best as you can to find out how your child feels about entering preschool. Are they nervous? If so, what is it that they feel most scared about? Every child is different, by getting to the bottom of your child’s number one anxieties you can help calm their nerves more directly. For instance, if your child is most concerned about drop off time, you can create a goodbye routine for the big day. By simply planning and practicing this ritual you are preparing your child for their first day of preschool—and the hardest part of all for many, separation at drop off.
4. Read Books Featuring Preschool Characters
There are a number of great children’s books that feature characters currently in preschool, or about to enter preschool. Such as, The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing and What to Expect at Preschool, by Heidi Murkoff. Reading books like these the summer before your child starts preschool will help your child find someone to relate with. These books also help familiarize kids with the general premise of preschool, as they explain what to expect using like-aged characters.
5. Back To School Shopping
Allow your child to be part of the back to school shopping process. You can even let them pick out the backpack they want. If a child is excited about using his or her new school swag, their first day of preschool might not seem so frightening; but instead a tad bit exciting. Oh, and don’t forget to label all supplies with your child’s initials using a Sharpie!
6. Set A Routine
A week or two before preschool is scheduled to begin, make the school night bedtime rule a reality. Have your child get into the habit of going to bed and waking up just like they will when preschool starts. Children can only handle so much change at once, you don’t want to change their sleeping schedule at the same time they start preschool. Otherwise, all of the change can overwhelm your child. Make an earlier bedtime and wake up time a part of their routine ahead of time. That way, the only major change your child will be facing is going to preschool.
7. Start Exercising Necessary Preschool Skills
In preschool children are often asked to use their listening ears, your child will be better prepared to act accordingly if they have practice ahead of time. A simple game of “I Spy” requires your child ask a series of questions, listening in order to put together what “your little eye spies…”
Preschool children are also busy with art projects, which advance fine motor skills and creativity. If your child does not currently do many crafts, the summer before preschool you should start bringing more crafts around. Don’t just use markers, have your child experiment with glue, 3-D accessories, paints, and Play-Doh. Your child will be more confident and ready to tackle projects in preschool if they have previous exposure at home.
At ABC Learning, we ensure all kids grow to love preschool—no matter how nervous they are on their first day!