Most preschools do not let your child start until they reach a specific age; generally either three years old or four years old, depending on how their preschool program is set up. Due to this arrangement, many preschools accept new students throughout the year, not just at the start of the school year. If your child will be starting during the school year, here are a few ways you can help them prepare for their transition to preschool.
Indirectly Introduce The Topic Of School To Your Child
Before you inform your child that they are going to go to school, start introducing the topic to them so that they are comfortable with the idea. Pick up books at your local library about starting school. Many of these books are aimed at starting kindergarten instead of preschool, but they convey the same message.
Incorporate these books into your reading time and bedtime routines. Answer your child's questions about school that come up as you read. After you have read the book a few times and your child is familiar with the story, stop while you are reading to ask questions. Ask them questions such as:
- How does the character feel about going to school? What actually happens when they go to school?
- What are the kids in the book like?
- How do the friends or students in the book treat each other?
- What is the teacher doing? How is the teacher helping the character in the book?
Try to get your child to start thinking about what it would be like to go to school. By gradually introducing the concept to your child, and by talking about a character in a book going to school, it will make it easier for you to later talk to your child about going to school.
Directly Introduce The Concept Of School
Next, start to talk to your child about school. After reading a book, have a conversation with your child about them going to school. Ask them what they think about going to school.
Later, let them know that they will get to go to school soon. Start to talk to your child about the specific activities they will get to do during the day at their new school.
Arrange a visit when there are no children present so that your child can get a feel for their new school and get an opportunity to explore without having to also make new friends at the same time. See if your child's teacher can be there as well, so they can meet them and become at least familiar with them before your child's first day.
You may also want to arrange a short visit when children are present so that your child can get a little preview and glimpse of the friends they will get to hang out with once they start school.
Let your child help get ready for school. Let them pick out their own backpack and school supplies. This will increase their engagement and investment in attending school.
Focus On Routine
Before you drop your child off for their first day of preschool, let your child know what to expect. Explain to them your morning routine and who will be dropping them off at school. Go over what will happen during their day at school, and establish that you or their other parent will be there to pick them up at the end of the day.
Once your child starts attending school, stick to your routine. This will help your child adjust to attending school and will help them feel more comfortable and at ease when they know what to expect from you.
If your child is starting preschool outside of the traditional beginning of the year start date, make sure you take your time introducing the concept of school to them both indirectly and directly. Once they start preschool, be sure to keep the rest of their routine consistent, to make this transition smoother for your child.