Starting preschool is such an exciting and momentous occasion! When children are 3-years-old, they are no longer toddlers. They are “big kids” ready to start preschool. As parents, we can help our children prepare for this next big step.
First, start your preschooler-to-be off with one task to master, such as practicing writing their name. This can mean recognizing and saying the letters in their name, imitating the first letter of their name or even writing the whole name—remember to use capitals! Respect where they are at and don't push them when they're not ready. Try using multi-sensory approaches vs using standard pen and paper, for example, writing their name in a sandbox using their fingers, or using playdough to form the letters of their name.
Next, consider what you, and you alone, need to do to get your child ready for school:
- Purchase a backpack together with your child. If possible, let your child choose it himself. This gives him a sense of control and emphasizes the fact that he is a “big kid” starting preschool. This is also a good time to consider a backpack/luggage combo, or fun scooter luggage.
- Label all items—backpack, jacket, shoes, blanket, teddy bear, etc.—with your child’s name and teacher’s name in permanent ink.
- Contact the preschool’s health professional if your child has medication that he or she takes on a daily basis. There will be special rules and forms to fill out for your child to receive medication at school.
- Figure out how your child will get to school and how they will come home. Talk to your child about the morning and afternoon routine so that she understands that she will be safe, okay, and cared for. Make sure your child meets her before- and/or after-school caregiver, if you are using one.
- Start using your child’s “school bedtime.” Children often go to bed later as the summer months, and longer days, kick in. Help your child get into a preschool schedule by keeping to his school bedtime, beginning about 2 weeks before school starts.
The transition into preschool will be a smooth one if you take the proper steps to get you and your child ready. Just remember to set aside proper time to get everything in order before school starts. Also, don’t forget to have fun!