Did you know that kids who attend preschool don’t just benefit when they start kindergarten? Studies show that later in life, kids with a preschool education have lower incarceration rates and earn more money when they enter the workforce.
Preschool is an important step toward kindergarten. Kids learn how to be a member of a class and start building both academic and social skills.
Just as preschool can get your child ready for kindergarten, you can help your child get ahead before starting preschool. A little preparation can go a long way when the first day of school arrives.
Not sure what you can do to get your child ready to begin preschool? Worried you don’t have more time in your day to devote to preschool prep? No worries—our tips are simple ideas to incorporate into what you’re already doing.
Keep reading to learn how to prepare your child for the world of preschool.
1. Read Books
Reading to your child has many benefits, from offering quality bonding time to aiding in cognitive and language development. Even at a very young age, your child can get a lot out of sitting down with you to read a book—even if they also want to chew the corner of it.
A bedtime story is a good way to wind down before sleeping. If that doesn’t work with your schedule, that’s just fine. Any time is a good time for a book.
There are many books about going to school that can help kids get ready. The popular Pete the Cat series written by James Dean contains the book Pete the Kitty’s First Day of Preschool. Get some other ideas here.
2. Talk About What to Expect, Then Listen
Even if kids are excited about the prospect of going to school—especially if they have older siblings who go—they may still be nervous.
Talk with your child about what to expect when they go to school. Talk about the kinds of things they might do. Talk about the friends they will make.
Ask your child how they are feeling about beginning preschool. Listen to what they have to say. If they have worries, acknowledge them—everyone is nervous on the first day of school.
Have this conversation over dinner, in the car, or at bedtime. Your child will benefit from a chat about school whenever you have it.
3. Visit the School and the Classroom
In line with talking with kids about what to expect at school, make sure to plan a visit to the facility ahead of time.
The first day of school can be chaotic. Lots of kids (and parents) trying to talk to the teacher and find their cubbies. This can be overwhelming for a child.
Talk to the school to see if you can arrange a time to bring your child to see their classroom and meet their teacher. Some schools have open houses where there’s the opportunity for a visit. This will offer a time that’s less busy for your child to get the lay of the land.
If a visit to the classroom is not possible, a trip to see the building and the school playground provides at least a little familiarity on Day One.
4. Practice School Skills
For your child, being at school is not exactly like being at home. There are ways to get them ready for those differences.
Your child will be asked to focus on tasks at school. You can practice this skill at home by working on puzzles, playing games that require attention, or cooking a meal together.
School lunchtime is not like lunch at home. Whether they’re eating in the classroom or in a lunchroom, they will be eating surrounded by friends.
Inquire about the parameters of your school’s lunch routine, then practice it at home. If they have to sit for twenty minutes in one spot to eat, time them at home, making sure they remain seated. Prepare the types of food you plan to send in with them to discover what they like and don’t like.
By taking the time to rehearse activities they will do at school, your child will be ready to go.
5. Get on a School Schedule
It’s so important for your child to be well-rested for school. When there’s nowhere to go in the morning, it’s easy to allow them to stay up a bit later at night. Your schedule during the school year needs to allow for a good night’s sleep.
Your toddler needs anywhere from 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day. About 1 to 1 1/2 of these hours may be nap time, but the rest is at night.
Calculate the time your child will need to be up to get ready for school, then calculate what time they need to be in bed to get a good amount of sleep. Start working toward this bedtime a few weeks before school starts.
A good bedtime routine is vital for setting your child up for sleep success. They’ll wake up every morning ready for action.
6. Reduce Screen Time
Kids today spend a lot of time looking at screens. Studies have shown that excessive time looking at a screen can cause delays in cognition and emotional development. It’s recommended that there be no screen time under the age of 2 beyond video-chatting and only an hour for ages 2 to 5.
Screens also affect a child’s ability to focus. By limiting the time your child spends looking at a screen, you are increasing their ability to focus on tasks at home and at school.
7. Go Supply Shopping
Who doesn’t remember the fun of going school shopping? It’s likely your child’s school will have a list of supplies to bring. Take your child with you to get these supplies.
Picking out the backpack and lunch box they want to use for the year will help your child grow even more excited about starting school. Helping to gather other tools such as crayons, glue sticks, and scissors will give your child ownership of these items. Be sure to label all these items with your child’s name so they don’t get lost.
Get Ahead for a Day One Win
Every parent wants their child to be successful at school. Following these 7 steps will help your child get ahead of the preschool learning curve. What’s even better is that many of these steps will also be beneficial to any older children you may have before they begin their next year of school.
Are you still looking for the best preschool for your child? Check out what we have to offer at The Learning Experience.