Your child's first day of preschool is a momentous occasion for you both! For your little one, it's the first time they've been in a structured school setting, learning all the new skills it requires. For you, it might be the first time you've left them with anyone other than a family member or trusted babysitter in the comfort and safety of your own home. In short, it can be overwhelming and a bit scary for you both. But a little preparation can make all the difference in how smoothly that first day (or week or month) goes.
Follow these preschool tips, and you and your child will both be preschool-ready!
- Host some group playdates. Much of your child's preschool success relies on their ability to socialize in groups. Get them practicing now by inviting some similarly aged children over for playtime. Observe how your child interacts with others to see what skills (like sharing, shyness, or patience) your kid needs to work on.
- Establish a daily schedule. Having a basic schedule and routines — especially for mornings and bedtimes — at home helps your child prepare for preschool's structure and orderly day.
- Talk about what he can expect. Talking with your child about what their teachers and classroom look like, how many children they'll have in their class, and some of the activities they can expect to be doing during school will help calm any nerves.
- Don't make goodbyes a bigger deal than she does. If preschool is the first time your child has ever been separated from you, she might be anxious about when you'll return . . . or whether you'll return at all. Make sure she knows moms always come back, then make your goodbye outside of the classroom short and sweet. A quick hug, "see you soon," and wave is sufficient. Anything more will make the separation a bigger deal to her than it needs to be. Also, most preschools will discourage carrying your child into or out of school; walking in makes them feel like a big kid, not your baby.
- Work on reading, listening, and following directions. Reading to your child every day not only builds their vocabulary and encourages them to use their imagination, it also helps them practice the preschool-necessary skill of listening and sitting still. Also, give your child small jobs like taking their shoes off and storing them in a certain place or cleaning up their toys will help them learn to follow directions from you and hopefully their teachers.
- Work on fine motor skills. Work on craft projects involving gluing, cutting, and coloring; encourage your child to move small objects from one container to another; and check out these other easy ways to encourage the fine motor skills they'll be using in school.
- Take advantage of school tours and meet-the-teacher night. Most preschools will offer kids and parents the opportunity to tour the school and meet the teachers before the first day of school. Attending these events will allow your child to explore and become comfortable with the new environment, with you there as backup.
- Don't overprepare. If you start building up preschool months in advance and talking about it constantly, by the time the first day of school rolls around, your child might be completely overwhelmed. Keep your conversations about preschool casual and fun (i.e. "your teacher's name is Mrs. Ferris and she's so nice" or "there's your new school; see the fun playground?" while driving by) and don't start that until a few weeks before the term starts. Then your child can get excited and know what to expect without too much pressure.