Preparing your child for preschool is a big milestone that can feel both exciting and stressful. From discussing the exciting adventures they’ll have at preschool to addressing any worries or concerns they may have, you can help your child feel prepared and excited for this next chapter in their life.
Some kids are eager and ready for the transition to preschool, but for others, doing something new, like going to preschool, can be very scary. If you have a hesitant new preschooler, offering guidance, support, and enthusiasm can help ease the transition into preschool and help your child feel more comfortable with this big step in their educational journey. Children pick up on the attitudes of their caregivers. If you have a positive attitude toward preschool, it will encourage them to view it as an exciting new experience too.
Talk about all the fun activities they’ll do in preschool. Let them know that they’ll spend time doing things they love: playing with toys, singing songs, doing art projects, and dancing. You can try doing an activity that you know they like, such as finger painting or singing, and let them know that they’ll be doing that activity at preschool too.
Show them pictures of the preschool, and let them know what it looks like. If your child’s preschool is open to visitors, take them there to play and explore. This will help them get used to the environment and make them feel more comfortable when they start going there. Letting them know what to expect will help them feel more secure and comfortable when the big day comes.
Talk about the friends they will make at preschool and how fun it is to have a friend to play with. This is also a great opportunity to talk about how to be a good friend. Encourage them to take turns with their toys and share. Discuss what kindness means, and show them what it looks like by how you act toward others.
Read books, watch TV shows, or sing songs about preschool to help them feel more excited about going. Choose books that have positive messages about preschool and that show children having fun. Talk about the book with your child after you have read it, and explain which parts of the book will be like their preschool experience. You can try asking questions about what they’re most looking forward to at preschool. The show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood features the “Grown-ups Come Back” song to prepare children to spend time away from their parents. Some book ideas include:
The World Needs More Purple Schools by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart
Preschool, Here I Come! by David J. Steinberg
This Is How We Get Ready by DK
Dinos on the Bus by Peter Millett
You Matter by Christian Robinson
Kindness Is My Superpower by Alicia Ortega
Practice your morning routine together, including getting dressed, brushing teeth, and using the bathroom. If you can, build in some choices for your child, such as the choice between two different outfits, so they can feel more in control of their morning. To make it fun, try setting a timer and see how fast your child can get dressed. Play fun music, like this playlist from Jools TV, while they brush their teeth, and challenge them to brush until you turn off the music.
Pretend to be a preschool teacher and do a fun activity together. For an extra dose of silliness, you can try swapping roles, with your child being the teacher and you the student. Start to teach skills like staying quiet by playing the quiet game. Tell your child that whoever is quietest the longest wins!
Praise and encourage your child by letting them know that they are doing a great job and that you are proud of them. Positive encouragement can help them feel capable and able to take on the new challenge.
Listen to your child’s worries. Throughout your preparation, check in regularly, and ask them how they’re feeling. If your child is worried about going to preschool, listen to their concerns and try to address them. You can show them your love and support by letting your child know that you are there for them and that you will help them if they get scared or nervous.