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The beginning of preschool is an important moment for every child and it can bring a lot of joy for seeing your child reaching this milestone, but also a lot of worries about how he will adjust to this change. There is no magic solution on how to prepare for preschool, but there are some helpful ways to make this moment easier for your child and for you too! I gathered here the tips that I consider the most useful for helping a child understand this change and adjust more quickly to it! If you are preparing for the first day at preschool, I also prepared a nice printable to download at the end of the article, I hope you will enjoy it!
My boy started going to creche when he was 11 months old, so at that point, there were not so many ways to help him prepare and I focused more on giving him a long adjustment period and seeking for support from his teacher to make this change easier. Later on, when he was 2 years and 10 months old, he started preschool in Romania, our home country, and I searched for a lot of ideas to make this change easier for him and to help him overcome his fears. Now, as we moved in California, he will start preschool again here and I took the whole preparation process from the beginning. This time things are a little more complicated because he doesn’t speak English yet, so he must overcome bigger fears, but I hope that we will manage to make this new change easier and that he will enjoy this new preschool.
I am sharing with you here all the tips that helped us the first time and that we also use this time for preparing him for the first day of preschool. At the end, you can find a resource that I created for helping him adjust to this change and making the first day of preschool happier for all of us; you can print the file and use it with your child too!
Here are the most useful tips that I discovered for preparing for preschool, they can really make a difference for the child!
1. Focus on the child
Starting preschool can be a very difficult moment for the child, so he will need all the support he can get from you! It is useful to make time to focus on the child, connect with him and reassure him of your love! A child that feels loved and understood can overcome easier the difficult moment he faces, so your love and support are essential! I start the preparation a month before the first day of preschool, this gives me and him enough time to go through this process in a slowly and loving way.
2. Discuss what will happen at preschool
I read that the greatest anxiety that children feel about preschool is caused by the fact that they don’t know what to expect and the idea of staying there without a parent can be really fearsome! In order to help children feel more prepared for what will come, it’s important for us to discuss with them about what will happen at preschool.
It’s useful for the child to know the daily schedule he will need to follow at preschool, the type of activities he will be doing there and the rules he will need to respect. Talking about the child’s fears and worries can make them easier to overcome; the child needs to know that it is okay to feel scared at the beginning but also that there are always adults around to help him. Another important thing to remind your child as often as you can is that you will always come back to pick him up. One of the greatest fear children have about preschool is that the parents will leave them there and will never come back. It may seem like an unjustified worry for us, but for them, it’s really helpful to be reassured that parents always come to pick them up.
3. Prepare for preschool in a playful way
The play is the way children communicate and this is why it’s the best way of making them understand this big change in their life. Here are some useful ways to use play for helping your child be more prepared for preschool:
– play preschool at home: You can simulate a day at preschool using the child’s favorite toys. This will give him an idea of what to expect when he will be in the classroom.
– read books about the first day of preschool: Reading about this subject is a wonderful way to help children overcome the fear and feel more open to discussing their worries.
– encourage your child to make drawings about preschool: This way your child will be able to get used to the idea of going to preschool and it’s another opportunity for you to discuss his fears and worries.
4. Teach the child the skills that will help him adjust quickly to the preschool schedule
I’m currently working on this with Bogdan because I’m sure that having all these skills will make the adjustment period easier for him. Here are the skills that are useful to teach:
– picking up toys and putting them back in their place
– putting up coat and shoes when going out
– listening skills (the child will need to listen to the teacher and not interrupting her, so it’s important for him to practice this skill and most of all his patience)
– sharing the toys with other kids (the child must understand that the toys from preschool are not only his and that he needs to share them with other kids).
5. Practice separation
If your child is used to stay only with you all the time, going to preschool will be a huge change! To help him get used to spending time without you, it’s useful to practice separation before beginning preschool. You can leave your child with trusted family members or friends for short periods of time so that he will get used to staying without you for a while. This way he will also gain trust that you always return to pick him up. You can also use these separations to develop a good-bye ritual; it will help your child to have a familiar good-bye ritual in the first days of preschool and it will make the separations easier.
Another helpful idea is to go to playdates and help your child get used to playing with other children, sharing toys and interacting in a kind manner.
6. Involve your child in the preparation for preschool
This is a really easy thing to do and will give the child a sense of control over the situation and also the joy of being part of what’s happening. You can let the child choose his backpack and his clothes for the first day, this will allow him to feel involved and more excited about going to preschool.
7. Make the first day of preschool really special
You can prepare a gift for the child to celebrate his first day or you can prepare his favorite breakfast before going to preschool. I have also prepared a “first day of preschool” interview, two nice keepsakes and a sign for taking a lovely photo on his first day, I’m sure that this will make him feel special and will help him deal with this change a little easier. 🙂 (you can also download them at the end of the article)
In the first day, you can have your child bring a little reminder of home to the preschool to ease the separation and reassure him; it can be his favorite toy or blankie, or even some photos of you to keep in his backpack.
For helping Bogdan to get used to the idea of going to preschool and for making his first day special, I prepared some resources to make this change more playful and enjoyable for both of us. I’m sharing them with you and I hope they will be useful to you too!
The printable file at the end of the article contains:
– a countdown to the first day of preschool: You can display this list in your house 12 days before the start of preschool. It will help your child see exactly when preschool starts and it will also remind you daily to do something that will help him get ready: reading a book about preschool, drawing, painting, doing an activity that he will also do at preschool (to help him get used to it).
– two preschool signs to capture the first day of preschool (you just need to print it, add the date and make a picture of your child holding the sign on the first day)
– a “first day of preschool” interview for your child (it will make him feel special and you’ll also have a nice memory of this moment)
– two pages for capturing keepsakes from the first day: a drawing made after the first day of preschool and the hand print of the child.
I hope that these tips and the printable file will help you and your child get ready for the first day of preschool and it will make this day easier and joyful! Starting preschool is a great adjustment for the kids but with our help, they can overcome their fears easier and start enjoying this new stage in their life! I wish you a happy start of preschool and an easy adjustment for your child!
To download the printable you just need to enter your email address below. This would give you access to the Playful Notes community, so you will find there a lot of other ideas and our full printable collection. I hope you will enjoy it!