Starting preschool is the first block in building a lifelong love of learning. The idea of a new daily routine for both of you is completely new, exciting, and intimidating at the same time. Your child is going to make so many friends and have fun! But also, new faces and routine change can breach their comfort zone. Your child will be exposed to a suite of new activities and all their interactions will be with new caring teachers that will be influential in shaping their early learning experiences. While this can be nerve wracking, you can begin the early steps of the transition to get your child used to these new experiences at home together! From Kids’ Care Club, we have some tips for you to learn how to prepare your child for preschool.
Preschool emphasizes the learning that is taking place at home. Taking the months and weeks before your child begins at their preschool to integrate new activities will make the new environment more comfortable.
1. Read, read, read!
Reading books to your child or with them will help set them up for literary success. Head on over to your local library and let your little one choose several books that interest them. Facilitate conversation by asking questions. What’s the storyline? What are the characters feeling? How is your child feeling? There’s so much to discuss together when reading, and pre-literacy skills are a large part of preschool.
2. Get stronger!
We’re certain that you are already engaging with activities with your child that stimulate their motor development. Motor development is defined as the physical growth and strengthening of a child’s bones, muscles, and ability to move and engage with their surroundings. This falls into two categories: fine motor and gross motor skills.
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills are developed through large muscle movements, such as sitting, crawling, walking, or running. We see this gross motor skill development all day long here at KCC whether that be through NAEYC circle time or on our playgrounds. Begin developing your child’s gross motor skills at home through making a homemade obstacle course with pillows to crawl or walk over, jog or run in place, or play different sports!
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills involve the use of smaller muscles to perform more controlled movements, such as grasping or drawing. Fine motor development is a large part of the activities done in the classrooms here at KCC – whether that be drawing, writing, or using scissors. Work on fine motor before coming to a preschool by shaking musical instruments together, letting them put on their shoes to head out to the playground, and drawing your favorite flowers together.
3. Act it Out.
Take advantage of your child’s inclination for dramatic play to help prepare them for the preschool routine. Cycle through different activities that take place in the classrooms – have them facilitate a story time, sing songs, and even practice nap time. Come day one, they’ll be an expert and the activities will remind them of their fun experiences at home. Here at KCC, we love dramatic play and you’ll see children explore different roles and situations as children play with items and tools that us adults use in everyday life. There’s kitchens, rooms, and more. The only limit is your imagination!
In preschool, children will exercise their autonomy daily through various activities like setting up their mats for nap time, pulling on their jackets, or packing/unpacking their lunches. Help build their autonomy and confidence at home by encouraging them to do these activities on their own. Make sure to include positive encouragement in any type of progress they make! Make it a fun competition by seeing who can put their shoes on first, brush their teeth the best, or get ready for bed the fastest.
5. Daily Chores
There are so many daily chores that you do as a parent that can easily be integrated into your child’s life. Your child will love having a sense of responsibility – whether that be cleaning the dishes, dressing themselves, feeding the dog, or helping mix ingredients in the kitchen. Once again, positive encouragement is key here. Clean up time in the preschool will feel like a breeze for your child come day one.
6. Visit Together
Visit the preschool that you will be attending ahead of time to help familiarize your child with their new environment by taking a walk or driving by their school.. Build their excitement by chatting about what may happen at their new school. New friends, learning, snacks, and so many activities await them. Build their curiosity by asking open-ended questions about the new daily routine that awaits them. If you can see the playground, help them brainstorm all of the fun new activities they’ll take part in. Here at KCC, tricycles, slides, climbing walls, sensory tables, and so much more await them.
7. Make a Routine
In the weeks before your child starts at a preschool, make sure that your routine is resemblant of the new routine that they will transition to during school. At the minimum, have a bedtime that provides your child with enough rest before their new wake up time to make sure that getting to class the first day isn’t tough. Developing a consistent, predictable routine for your child prior to school will make the transition for them that much smoother.
8. Express and Acknowledge Feelings
Preschool is an exciting adventure that awaits your family! But, it’s normal to have anxiety, and we recommend encouraging your child to recognize those feelings. Ask open ended questions to address any concerns that they may have.
While some children eagerly jump into the classroom routine without looking back, others beg and scream for you to not leave them. Separation anxiety is real, and can make the start of school a little stressful. Stay strong as a parent and make sure to stay upbeat throughout the entire experience and be on time for pick up so that your child knows that you’ll be coming back.
9. Watch for Worries and Address Them
Worries express themselves in different ways – nonverbal cues, erratic behavior, and more. Your child may be good at expressing and acknowledging their feelings and let you know directly, but sometimes they aren’t.
Nonverbal messages are cues that may show that your child is worried but doesn’t have any good way to communicate these worries. This may be shown in increased clinging, more withdrawing, or more aggressive behavior. Another way that we may see that the child is experiencing big changes that may be stressful is that they will go backwards in some regard. For example, potty training. As they start school, the stress of a new routine can be identified if there is an increased frequency of accidents.
10. The First Day
The big day has arrived! Get excited as your family embarks on a new chapter. Make sure to set yourself up so that last minute questions can be answered from your child. Allow them to make decisions for themselves so that they feel excited about their first day, such as choosing their outfit or what to have for lunch.
Preparing your child for preschool is a routine-shifting process that takes place over a couple of weeks, and it’s so exciting. Here at Kids’ Care Club, we are so eager to welcome all of our new families into the KCC family. In addition to the transition preparation you do at home, Kids’ Care Club has two days that children spend in the classroom to get a stronger sense of what’s to come. We also allow an open-door policy so that parents can check in on their child throughout the day at their ease, with updates provided to you throughout the day through Learning Genie. We invite you to contact us to learn more about how Kids’ Care Club makes the transition to this new chapter of your family’s life as seamless and fun as possible.