Preschool is a milestone that can be an exciting time for families but also can bring some anxiety for parent and child. As an early childhood educator, I have worked with many families on their big first day of preschool who were feeling a bit nervous about their child’s transition and questioning whether their child was ready for the preschool experience. These are all normal feelings. However, to ease the transition into preschool there a few things parents can be doing at home a few weeks in advance of the big day!
If you’re still searching for that perfect preschool environment that meets all of your child’s needs make sure you keep reading along because La Petite Academy is offering a special enrollment incentive for our Triangle-area families.
Ten Tips To Help Prep Your Child For Preschool
1. Plan playdates
Playdates are the perfect opportunity for children to work on social skills, sharing, taking turns, and problem-solving. These peer interactions are not only vital to a child’s development but also an excellent way to make connections with others. Playdates are also a great time for parents to model and facilitate peer exchanges and play when needed.
2. Practice self-help skills
It would be beneficial for your child to start preschool being somewhat independent with skills that are easy to incorporate during their daily routines: pulling up pants, hand washing, picking up toys, self-feeding, asking for help, following directions. Choose two or three skills and help your child develop their confidence and independence before preschool begins.
3. Read books about preschool
Reading books about preschool with your child is a helpful way to help prep them for their transition. Look for books with the themes of starting school, being a good friend, feelings, and using your words. Books with these themes are a helpful intro for children to make connections and prepare for the preschool experience. Here are a few of my book recommendations: My Preschool, The Way I Feel, That’s What a Friend Is, Maisy Goes to Preschool.
4. Play outside & connect with nature
Connecting with nature leads to so many enriching opportunities encompassing the domains of early childhood development such as social skills, problem-solving, fine/gross motor skills, creativity, critical thinking skills, communication, and independence. Add a few more park visits, nature walks or romps in the backyard to help your child observe the natural world around them.
5. Visit your new preschool together
Ask your preschool provider and take one more tour or short visit with your little one inside their new school. If possible, ask to explore the playground and take a peek at your child’s classroom. This can increase a child’s comfort and confidence when it comes to entering into a new setting. Also, don’t forget to help your child practice saying their teacher’s name and their classroom name (i.e., “Awesome Alligator Class”). This is an excellent step to help them become familiar and connected with their preschool.
6. Create a countdown calendar
You soon-to-be preschooler continuously hears about all the fun they will have during their new preschool adventure, but, when?!? At this age, they are still too young to understand the concept of time. A visual representation helps them to see how many days are left until they start preschool. Use any calendar and place it in an area of your home that’s easily accessible. Grab some fun stickers and a draw an eye-catching star and put it on the date of their first day. Each day, let your child place a sticker on the calendar (this is so exciting!) to represent getting closer to the “First Day of Preschool!”
7. Practice sit-down family dinners at least one night a week
In preschool, your child will participate in many group time meals during lunch and snack. In some programs, children are required to wait at the table until everyone is finished. This can be a challenge for your wiggly littles so help them get accustomed to this as much as possible with your own family mealtimes.
8. Establish your routines beforehand
Children thrive off of routines because it helps them know what to expect and makes them feel secure. It’s helpful to have a few practice runs with your morning and drop-off routines a few days before the first day.
For example, for your morning routine practice your child’s new preschool wake up time in addition to brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast and packing their bag all by the time you would be leaving your home for the big day.
A Drop off Routine is also extremely crucial. Create a simple drop off ritual with your child (i.e., hug, kiss, high five). Keep it short and simple when saying your goodbye.
9. Saying good-bye
This might be the biggest worry that parents have regarding their child’s first school experience. It’s true, your child might scream, cry, and become very upset. It is reasonable for your child to be upset. However, chances are your child will stop crying by the time you get to your car. Make sure to have a fun drop off routine and do not linger as that may send the message that you are staying and will make it even harder when you try to leave. Practice your drop-off routine in advance when leaving your little one with a grandparent or babysitter, so they know what to expect when the transition to preschool begins. If you have some anxiety or concerns about separation reach out to your preschool provider in advance. Remember they are your partner in your child’s development and can provide supportive strategies that can make your drop-off routine run more smoothly.
10. Reward yourself
YOU DID IT! You worked so hard to prepare your child for this significant milestone in their development. Grab your favorite cookie or grab a coffee with your bestie and celebrate this big day! Your little one is going to rock their preschool year… and so will you, mama!
Are you still searching for that ideal preschool environment for your family?
La Petit Academy serves families throughout the Triangle area and is offering a special enrollment incentive below:
La Petit Academy® provides nurturing care and creative learning experiences. At La Petite Academy®, your child will discover respect, collaboration, and the joy of learning. Their exclusive School Readiness Pathway charts each child’s unique course to elementary school and future academic success, with specialized curriculum and developmentally appropriate programs for infants to school-age students. With their STEM curriculum, science, technology, engineering, and math are part of everything they do in the classroom. Discover enhanced learning opportunities through elective programs (such as Spanish and yoga), before- and after-school programs, and, in the summer, Camp Innovate. Plus, their Grow Fit® initiative ensures the complete well-being of your growing child through a focus on health, nutrition, and fitness.