Is your little one about to start preschool or kindergarten? Congratulations! This is such an exciting time for you and your child. But it can also be a little scary - after all, you want your kiddo to feel confident and ready to take on this new adventure. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prepare your child for preschool or kindergarten and set them up for success. Here are some practical tips that will help make the transition to preschool or kindergarten a little smoother for both you and your little one.
1. Talk Positively & Early
Preparing your child for preschool or kindergarten should start well before the first day of school. You can begin by talking to your child about what to expect, why they are going to school, what fun things they will do, and the new friends they’ll make there. Your child is going to pick up on your feelings about starting school. If you're excited and positive about this new adventure, your child is more likely to feel the same way. Try to talk about school in a positive light and emphasize all the fun things your child will get to do and learn. You can also read books about school or watch TV shows that talk about school. Encourage your child to ask questions and share any worries they may have. This will help them feel more comfortable and confident about the transition. These activities can help your child understand what school is all about and get excited about going.
2. Read, read, read
Reading is one of the most important things you can do to help prepare your child for school. Not only does it help with language development, but it also helps children learn how to sit still and listen. And reading books about preschool or kindergarten can help your child understand what to expect and prepare for the transition. Some great books to check out include "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn, "Llama Llama Misses Mama" by Anna Dewdney, and "Wemberly Worried" by Kevin Henkes. Make reading a regular part of your daily routine.
3. Practice Social Skills
One of the biggest challenges for young children starting school is learning how to interact with their peers. You can help your child develop social skills by arranging playdates with other kids, visiting playgrounds, attending story-time at the library, joining community groups, and signing up for parent-child classes. Encourage your child to share toys, take turns, and use polite words like "please" and "thank you." These skills will help your child make friends, communicate effectively, and feel comfortable in social situations.
4. Get Your Child on a Schedule
Preschool and kindergarten have a set schedule that includes snack time, nap time, and playtime. To help your child adjust to this routine, start getting them on a schedule at home. This can include regular bedtime and waking up routine (taking shower, selecting cloths for the next day, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, getting dressed, brushing teeth, and eating breakfast on time). Other routines to keep in mind include planning out meals, activities, playtimes, and nap times ahead of time. A predictable routine helps children feel secure and confident, and it will make the transition to school much easier.
5. Encourage Independence
Preschool and kindergarten are all about fostering independence and self-reliance. At school, your child will need to be able to do things on their own, like put on their jacket and shoes, go to the bathroom, and open their snack. Encourage your child's independence by allowing them to do things on their own at home. This will help build their confidence and prepare them for the challenges of school.
6. Teach basic academics
While preschool and kindergarten are mostly about socialization, children are also expected to learn basic academics like letters, how to hold a pencil, writing their name, numbers and counting to ten, shapes, and colors. Help your child get a head start by practicing these skills at home. Play games that involve counting or matching shapes and point out letters and numbers in everyday life. You can also use educational apps, flashcards, and other activities to help your child learn the basics.
7. Practice Listening Skills
Listening is a crucial skill for success in school. Practice listening skills with your child by playing games like "Simon Says" or "Red Light, Green Light." When you read stories together and ask your child questions about what they heard.
8. Play School
Playing school can be a fun way to help your child get ready for preschool or kindergarten. You can set up a pretend classroom with a chalkboard, desks, and chairs. You can also assign roles for you and your child to play, such as teacher and student. This will help your child understand what to expect in the classroom and help them feel more prepared.
9. Visit the School Ahead of Time
Visiting the school before the first day can help ease your child's anxiety and make them feel more comfortable. Take a tour of the school and show your child where their classroom will be and introduce them to their teacher. You can also show them areas the child will be using (bathroom, playground, cafeteria, pickup area, and so on), and let the child get comfortable with the new environment.
10. Practice Separation
If your child has never been away from you for an extended period of time, it can be helpful to practice separation before they start school. This could mean leaving them with a trusted family member or babysitter for a few hours at a time, gradually increasing the amount of time they spend away from you. This will help your child feel more comfortable being away from you when they start school.
It's natural to feel a bit apprehensive about sending your little one off to preschool or kindergarten. After all, this will be one of the first big milestones in their lives, and you want your child to succeed and thrive in their new environment. I hope these tips give you a starting point in your mission to help your little one feel confident and excited about starting school. Here is to your child starting their school journey on the right foot!