Preparing your child for preschool can be fun and memorable!
Preschool marks the beginning of a major milestone in your child’s educational and development journey. This is the phase where your child will make new friends, learn new skills, and gain the confidence and independence to set them on the path for later school success. However, this milestone might be a difficult transition for some children. But with the right methods, preparing your child for preschool can be a fun and memorable experience.
This milestone is usually marked with conflicting emotions for both parent and child. You may feel excited to think about all the new discoveries your child will make, and yet feel sad that they are venturing out into the big world without you. For your child, there may be feelings of worry and fear of the unfamiliar and separation from you.
Having mixed emotions of excitement and apprehension are completely normal. It is manageable as long as you take some time in preparing your child and yourself to ensure the transition goes smoothly for the entire family. The key is to keep your efforts low-key and not make a big deal out of this milestone so that the child feels more excited than worried.
For parents, there are many tips and resources available to help guide you in preparing your child for preschool. Such as describing what a preschool looks like or even telling them stories about it would help give them a general idea of what to expect. You can also teach them additional skills or refine the ones that they already know so that they may have a degree of independence in school.
Here are some other ways which you can use to prepare your child in the weeks before the first day of school, on the first day and how to ease the jitters of separation:
Preparation in the few weeks before preschool begins:
1. Engage in pretend play to explore the idea of a preschool.
Create a simple classroom at home and get your child to pretend that they are attending school. Get your child to hang up their backpack, play games, read stories, create art, and sit down for group time. You can also prepare simple snacks for the break between “lessons” for your child to enjoy.
2. Read books or watch videos about preschool.
There are various books available in the bookstores and library on this topic. A simple online search would yield an abundance of video resources which you can watch together. Reading stories to your child and watching such videos could help reduce the anxiety of this transition.
Here are some good reads available on the topic:
- “Brown Bear Starts School” by Sue Tarsky and Marina Aizen
- “School’s First Day of School” by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson
- “The Pigeon Has to Go to School!” by Mo Willems
- “The King of Kindergarten” by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton
- “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” by Ryan T.Higgins
3. Practice self-help skills.
Helping your child learn or master self-help skills would enable them to be more independent and ease some of your worries. Try to practice washing hands, using the toilet, brushing their teeth, getting dressed, putting shoes and socks on, using utensils, making their bed and more.
4. Make a visit to the preschool together.
Preschools usually allow parents to visit the school with their child before the start of the term. This is a good opportunity for your child to familiarize themselves with the new environment and for you to experience the school’s facilities. These visits will not only allow you to know the Principal and their teacher better, your child’s comfort and confidence will also increase too.
5. Establish a routine.
Establishing a routine can provide your child with a sense of security and stability, especially in anticipation of new events in their lives; starting preschool in this case. You could create a routine which involves getting ready for preschool mornings, where your child wakes up, washes and dresses up, have breakfast together and get ready to leave.
6. Shop for a new school bag or shoes together.
Bring your child out shopping and let them choose a school bag or shoes that they really like. This creates some excitement and gives them a sense of control and emphasizes the fact that he or she is a “big kid” and is ready to start preschool. Don’t forget to label all their belongings with your child’s name.
Preparation on the Big Day:
7. Start the day early.
Wake up earlier so you may have breakfast with your child and review the day’s routine. On the night before, do pack the schoolbag with the child and explain to them the purpose of each item. You may also allow the child to bring along a favorite plush or blanket as these familiar objects can help provide them with a sense of comfort and security.
8. Leave the house early.
It’s good practice to leave early to avoid rushing and ensuring a relaxed journey to school. During the journey, you could play their favorite songs and sing-along together to ease any nervous feelings.
9. Arrive at the school early.
Try to reach the school slightly earlier before the other children start arriving. This will allow your little one to slowly settle in and get more face time with the teacher. Show your child to their cubbyhole and let them put in their schoolbag on their own. You may also spend some time exploring the centre together and play with some toys to calm their nerves.
10. Remember to put on a happy face!
Though our hearts are filled with worry, this shouldn’t be reflected on our faces as nerves are highly contagious. So, remember to put on a happy face and in a cheerful and confident tone, tell your child just what a great day they will have meeting new friends and learning new stuff.
Easing the jitters of separation.
11. Accompany your child for the first few days.
Preschools generally understand that it can be difficult saying goodbye for both parent and child. Which is why parents are usually allowed to spend the first few days with the child to ease the separation anxiety. Depending on the child’s personality, some might not experience this at all and others might need more time to overcome this anxiety. Just be patient and be assuring with your words and in no time, they will be off running to meet their new friends every morning at school.
12. Create a special and loving good-bye routine.
These routines help to comfort the child and prepares their little hearts for the day at school. You could give your child a kiss on the palm to “hold and keep” all day long. Or a special hug and a high-five to keep their spirits up are such examples of goodbye routines. Think of one with your child and you may be surprised how effective it can be.
13. Resist the urge to run back to your child should they cry.
Do not run back into the centre should you hear your child crying. Doing so would make your child think that they will only be okay if you are there and could possibly prolong the adaptation period. Just remember that it is perfectly normal for children to have a meltdown when it’s time to separate. Chances are they will be fine five minutes after you walk out that door. Don’t worry if it takes a while for them to adjust as the teachers are at hand and experienced enough to handle such episodes.
We hope that these tips would ease the jitters of separation anxiety as you begin preparing your child for preschool. Remember that this only temporary and can be managed with the right tactics and heaps of patience. Your child will start to see what a wonderful and delightful experience preschool can be when they overcome this transition period.
If you are in the search of a preschool for your precious tot or should you have any concerns on preparing your child for preschool, just schedule a personalized tour to visit Mulberry Learning and have a chat with our friendly principals. Mulberry Learning promises a fun environment that piques the child’s curiosity through our Reggio Emilia-inspired Learning Spaces. The little one will soon be busy exploring and making new discoveries with their newfound friends!
About Mulberry Learning
At Mulberry Learning, no effort was spared in crafting a truly unique preschool programme that incorporates the Reggio Emilia methodology, Habits of Mind™ framework and Multiple Intelligences.
Voted Singapore’s “Best Holistic Learning Programme” and recently featured by the Straits Times, Business Times, CNA and The Smart Local, Mulberry Learning is the only preschool in Singapore and the world to be certified by the USA for the “Habits of Mind”, the same intelligent thinking framework used by M.O.E. to groom the brightest Primary School students in the Gifted Education Programme!
Schedule a personalized tour with us to discover how Mulberry Learning helps your child become a confident communicator, independent thinker and a passionate lifelong learner.