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Preschool Prep 101: Making Informed Choices for Your Child’s Future

Going to preschool can be a major change; some kids are thrilled and others might need a little help adapting to the new schedule. One of the best things you can do for your child is to start preparing them as soon as possible. 

Don’t worry: There’s no perfect way to begin the transition. However, keeping a few helpful tips in mind, such as the ones below, can start the preparation process so it may seem more like an exciting adventure for them (and you!).

Here are seven tips for preparing your child for preschool:

Increase Same-Age Socialization

By the time children get to preschool age (three or four years old), they usually get a good amount of socialization, but it’s not always with other kids. Depending on the situation, it may be with adult family members, parent’s friends, and older kids, such as siblings or cousins. 

Consider scheduling time for your little one around other children their own age before they start preschool. For instance, take them to programs at the library or enroll them in local art classes. It is also a great opportunity for the whole family to make new friends. 

Practice the New Schedule

If possible, start getting your child ready for the new schedule as soon as you enroll them. Some preschools have all-day programs consisting of nap, snack, and meal times, while others are only a few hours each day. Adjusting their schedule now gets the little one used to the structured routine, so the transition is not so difficult once they start. 

Ask the preschool for a daily itinerary and see if it’s similar to yours. If there are notable differences, you may want to adapt your kid’s bedtime, nap, or snack schedule. 

Get a Head Start on the Curriculum

Curriculums vary between preschools, but typically, children learn basics like letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and reading readiness. Chances are you might go over these topics at home, but consider kicking the lessons up a notch, and make sure to focus on the fun. Educational burnout or stress are the last things any family wants! 

Focus on getting them excited about learning instead. Games, repetition, educational videos, and books can significantly help. Check out your local library, which typically has a variety of free and low-cost relevant materials.

Work on Potty Training

Potty training can be exciting, stressful, and frustrating for parents. If only it were possible to go from diapers to potty training at the snap of your fingers! However, that is often not the case, and that’s okay. A lot of patience and reassurance can go a long way. 

Many parents begin potty training their kids when they reach 18 months old, but some children might not be ready just yet. You have probably already started potty training your child, but if not, it can be a good idea to have a talk about it with your family pediatrician long before registering for preschool. Additionally, review the potty training policies at the preschool you want your child to attend.

Visit the Preschool Together

If possible, set up a tour (in person or virtual) for your child to walk through the preschool and see what it is like. Let them know you are about to go on an adventure to explore an exciting new place together. Depending on the school’s policies and availability, the visit may even be able to take place during preschool hours, so your little one can meet the teachers and other kids. 

Talk to Them About What To Expect

One of the best tips for preparing your child for preschool is to communicate about what to expect. Talk to them about the school, making new friends, and what they’ll learn in class. Emphasize that while you won’t be there, they’ll have a great time, and you will be excited to hear all about their day afterward. 

Have this conversation repeatedly leading up to their first day. Repetition can be a major part of their development, and it’s a wonderful way for you to hear them out about their thoughts and feelings. 

Ask them open-ended questions about going to preschool. Doing so is helping them prepare for the next chapter of their life. It is also contributing in a positive way to their development, including critical thinking and communication skills.

Introduce the Pick-Up Person Early On

If your child will be picked up from preschool by a person they don’t know very well (like a babysitter or carpool parent) have them spend more time together before school starts. This is particularly important if your child is shy.

Your child is going through a schedule change, and having someone they are familiar with who they like can be one less adjustment. Whether it’s a new nanny or babysitter, a friend, or a family member, start hanging out together in small increments. 

If the pick-up person is part of your neighborhood carpool, schedule playdates with their children. Try going to the park, going out to eat, or just spending time together at home. It can also allow you to see how the two interact. 

Preschool Prep: Final Thoughts and Summary

The longer you have to work with between prepping your child for preschool and when they start, the better. It can help both of you to take things slow and get used to the idea, simplifying the process. Preparing for preschool is wise whether going part-time or full-time. 

It can be an exciting experience! The more you make it sound like a positive adventure, the more your child will likely start to feel the same way.

Author Bio

Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.

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