For young children, preschool is a time of amazing growth and development. Preschoolers develop their language, socialization, academic, and emotional skills every day. Preschool provides children with a safe space to explore their world and to prepare for kindergarten and beyond. Lifespan Development Centers shares the building blocks for success for preschool children and offers suggestions for parents to help their children get off to the right start.
Readiness to Leave Home
If your child has not been to a group daycare in the past, you might be anxious about how he or she will do in preschool. If your child has always been with a parent, family member, or in a home daycare situation, the expectations of being in a classroom setting might be difficult for your child to process. Be reassured that many parents face the same problem when they are preparing their children for preschool.
One creative way to prepare your child for preschool is to role-play. Model the various parts of the preschool day. Have your child hang up his or her backpack, spend some time in free play, and then sit and listen to the teacher in circle time and do some fun activities. You can role-play yourselves or use dolls or puppets to make it more fun. Let your child play all three roles in turn: the parent, the teacher, and the child.
Another excellent way to prepare for preschool is to spend plenty of time interacting with other children. Visit the playground regularly. Have your child practice sharing and taking turns. For an only child or a child with an infant sibling, this can be a shock to his or her system. Don’t worry if your child has difficulty in this area. Preschool teachers are experts at helping children navigate the social requirements of being in the classroom.
Read books about a child starting preschool and answer all of your child’s questions. Young children may have a lot of anxiety about starting school but be unable to express it. They may act out in other ways and be more aggressive or more clingy than usual. Be patient with your child and remember that the transition is even bigger for them than it is for you.
You have already been helping your child prepare for academic learning. Doing fun activities like coloring, numbers, and singing songs with your child prepares them for the classroom. Taking trips to play centers, museums, and nature walks children prepare to learn away from home. Don’t overemphasize learning letters and numbers before preschool. Your child will have plenty of opportunities to learn them in the classroom.
Separating from a Parent
This can be one of the most difficult aspects of starting preschool, especially for children who have not been to daycare. Even for children who are accustomed to spending time outside the home with another trusted adult, the transition can be hard. Follow these steps to give your child the right start to his or her first day.
First, have your child choose his or her own backpack and lunchbox. Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep. Set the “school bedtime” two weeks before school starts for the best results. Have the child choose his or her own clothes for the first day of preschool, as long as they are school-appropriate. Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast. Sit down and talk with them if possible.
When you get to school, spend some time playing in the classroom. Stay upbeat and positive. When you sense that your child is comfortable, say goodbye. Create a routine for the two of you that will signal to the child that it is time to separate, but that you will be back soon. When it is time to leave, don’t sneak away. If you hear your child crying when you leave, resist the temptation to run back into the classroom. Let the teachers handle it. Your child will soon trust that you will be back at the end of the school day. You can call the school to see if your child settled down.
These building blocks from Lifespan Development Centers will help your child get off to a great start in preschool. When you pay attention to these three areas, your child will have an easier time adapting to the classroom. Your child will quickly make friends and enhance his or her social skills. Preschool will prepare your child for kindergarten and beyond.