How to Psychologically Prepare Your Child for Preschool

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How to Psychologically Prepare Your Child for Preschool

Father and son

Father and son

Seamless ways to prepare and ease the transition.

Beginning preschool is a significant achievement for both your child and you as a parent or guardian. Learning to spend time apart can be a difficult and emotional transition that requires planning, but starting the formal learning journey can also be an exciting adventure.

Children must be psychologically prepared to handle the emotional aspect of the transition so that they can enjoy the eventual learning process. When this process is not handled properly, children have a difficult time adapting, resulting in a difficult time at school, which leads to a poor first impression and, eventually, poor grades.

Here are some practical tips to help your child’s transition to preschool go as smoothly as possible.

Don’t over-prepare

“There’s no need to start preparing your child for preschool months in advance,” says Silvana Clark, a Bellingham, Washington preschool teacher and author of 600 Tips for Early Childhood Directors. “Some well-meaning parents begin talking about preschool and building it up too far in advance, and by the time school begins, the child feels this is a huge event in her life, which can be overwhelming to a young child.” Instead, start talking about preschool in a lighthearted, upbeat tone about two to three weeks before the first day of class. For example, if you drive by a playground, Clark recommends saying something like, “When you go to preschool, you’ll have a slide like that” or “There you have your school. I’ll enter through that blue door with you. Miss Suzie, your teacher, will be present.” This informs your child of what to expect and provides her with something to look forward to.

Plan a sneak peek of the School

Julie Bragdon, formal preschool teacher and assistant head of school at the Montessori School of Denver, believes that visiting the school while it is in session is a good idea. Introduce your child to the teacher and allow him to observe and explore the classroom. If you can’t visit a class during the day, go to the new school on the weekend or in the evening. “Play on the playground and take a walk around campus. Explain what will happen there, such as story times, meeting classroom pets, learning new things, and snacking with new friends.”

Play together on the playground and explore other areas such as the dining hall. This way, when they arrive on the first day of school, they will be at ease.

Make new friends

Friends

Arrange a playdate with children from your child’s class or school if possible. This will allow them to get to know each other before school starts, and when school starts, they will look for their new friend first thing. These friends will be their “family,” and they will be the first people your child will turn to for assistance, advice, or consultation. Failure to do so places your child in a “vacuum of isolation” when they join, making it more difficult for them to adjust to the new environment.

Playschool together at home

Pretend play can help your child become acquainted with the concept of preschool. Take turns acting out routines such as story time, singing songs, and nap time. You can also reverse the roles and make your child the teacher. This will help your child see school as a fun place and reduce anxiety on the first day.

Turn getting-ready skills into a game

Practice buttoning and zippering clothing, putting on a backpack and hanging a coat or jacket on a hook. You could make putting on shoes a game by seeing how quickly you can do it!

Share your experience

Tell your child about the first time you went to school, how you felt, and the special memories you made. Find preschool photographs of yourself or other trusted adults your child knows and discuss them together if possible.

Listen to your child

Inquire about your child’s feelings about going to school and reassure them that feeling excited, worried, or any other emotion is normal. Starting something new can be intimidating and overwhelming, but it can also be a lot of fun! Assure your child that you will be there to pick them up at the end of the day, and discuss the routines you will follow.

Have a goodbye plan

Both you and your child may find it difficult to say goodbye! When the time comes, try to keep your goodbye brief and positive, assuring your child that you will see each other again soon. You can even create a special routine to help comfort your child, such as singing a song together or performing a special handshake.

Establish a set schedule

Following a routine allows for opportunities for decision-making and responsible behavior, and having a daily schedule can help ease your child’s transition to the structure of a preschool setting. According to Rebecca Palacios, Ph.D., senior curriculum advisor for abcmouse.com, “Routines and daily schedules help children learn the best. Routines allow students to learn about order, sequencing, and time concepts. Routines facilitate smoother transitions and assist children in mentally preparing for the day ahead, while also providing frameworks for creative learning.”

Julie Nelson, an early childhood education professor, and former preschool teacher agree on the value of structure and rules. “If you don’t have a consistent schedule at home, your child will probably struggle to adjust to school.”

Stick with morning and bedtime routines

Routines, when followed consistently, provide the preschooler with a sense of belonging and reassurance, as well as frequent opportunities for parents to connect with their child, so it’s best to be available, attentive, and responsive to your child’s needs. Helping your child make her bed, dress, eat breakfast, brush her teeth and hair, and assemble personal items can all be part of an early-morning routine. A Good Morning chart with the tasks listed in order and a picture next to each item provides a visual reminder of what is expected of them. Some preschool classrooms have similar daily schedules, which can help your child prepare and organize.

Bedtime entails sleeping alone in a dark room, which can arouse nighttime fears. Bathing, changing into pajamas, reading a book, brushing teeth, saying prayers, discussing the day’s events, singing a song, giving hugs and kisses, and “tucking in” can all be part of a soothing routine before bedtime. These activities bring the day to a close, calm a restless child, and provide additional bonding.

Take advantage of teachable moments

Children are naturally inquisitive about their surroundings, which makes life full of teachable moments. Find moments in the middle of a busy day to teach simple life lessons. Teachable moments can support a child in learning about and comprehending empathy. This can be accomplished by having your child serve others to help them become more aware of others. Look for ways to support a neighbor and ask, “How does it feel to assist Ms/Mr. Brown?” When another sibling or friend is having a difficult time, use it as an opportunity to teach your child. Discuss the situation and why the sibling or peer is feeling that way. Ask your child if he or she ever feels that way too, and how she might be able to help.”

Parents are encouraged to participate “Observe and question children about changes in the weather, falling leaves, or snow on the ground. When a bird flies by, a dog barks, or a cat sheds, these are all teachable moments. Much of that learning will happen naturally, but parents can also help.”

Fine-tune their fine motor skills

Motor skills

Help your child develop fine motor skills during play before preschool by making a fun craft that involves snipping paper, coloring, and gluing. Brittany Hoffer, Ph.D., Occupational Therapy Instructor at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, recommends having your child manipulate modeling clay to form shapes and letters to prepare him for future handwriting demands at school. Hide small beads or coins inside putty and have your child find them; this activity improves hand strength and dexterity, which will improve small hand tasks like manipulating small fasteners and using scissors.

Make time for reading

PARENT TEACHING
PARENT TEACHING

Read to your child every day to instill a love of reading and expand his or her vocabulary. When we give children the gift of books and language, we provide them with imaginative experiences that help them become creative thinkers and innovators. Keep reading material on hand in the car, the kitchen, your child’s bedroom, and even outside. Good children’s literature, whether borrowed from the library or purchased at a market or bookstore, provides the rich language required for your child’s academic success.

Look out for separation anxiety

It’s completely normal for children to experience separation anxiety during the first few weeks of school. Be prepared to shed a few tears, but remain positive so that your child does not pick up on any anxiety you may be feeling about leaving her. Tell your child how her day will go on the way to/from school so she knows what to expect. As you drop her off, assure her calmly that you will return at the end of the day. Keep your goodbyes brief and to the point. Staying will only make the separation more difficult for both you and your child. Once your child has adjusted to the new school environment, saying goodbye will be much easier.

Parting Shot.

Starting preschool may seem like a simple task to us adults, but it is not for children. We haven’t covered everything regarding preparing children for preschool, but as a parent, be creative. Come up with other activities that will psychologically prepare and prepare your child for school, and we believe you will be able to create a different atmosphere than the one we grew up in, and your child will eventually enjoy school from day one. Adeus!

Preschool at home is an online course that teaches a child a basic preschool curriculum and parents can use it to enhance further mastery of preschool activities and requirements.

Visit us here for more information regarding personalized education plans and homeschooling.

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