July 22, 2018
How to Prepare Your Child for Preschool
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The preschool years can be a wonderful time for your child as they are introduced to new friends, playtime, and fun activities that will kickstart their cognitive, psychomotor, and social development.
At My Little Campus, preschool begins after the infancy stage, from 18 months onwards:
- Infant Care (2 – 18 months)
- Toddlers (18 months to 2 years)
- Playgroup (3 to 4 years)
- Nursery (4 to 5 years)
- Kindergarten 1 & 2 (5 to 6 years)
But taking that first big step towards preschool, can sometimes be even more daunting for parents, than for their children. After all, how can you tell if your child is ready to make the transition into preschool?
By being proactive and preparing your childfor preschool, you can be confident that your kid will be ready to take on this exciting new world – where exploration, learning, and friendships await.
Have your child on a schedule
Your child’s preschool will have a schedule that every child must follow, consisting of playtime, lessons, rest, and meals. If your child is already used to following a schedule or timetable at home, making the transition to a preschool will be simple.
You can start small, by scheduling meals at specific times of the day. Then slowly begin adding certain activities like play or reading time into the day, until your child is comfortable with schedules. For an even smoother transition, closely match your child’s schedule at home with the schedule at the childcare centre of your choice. (You can ask the childcare centre for their schedule, which they should be happy to provide.)
Toilet train your child
Though your child will learn many new skills in preschool, certain abilities will help make their transition that much smoother. One of these, is potty training. If your child knows how to use the toilet on their own, they’ll fit in with the group a lot more easily. And possibly even be a role model for other kids!
Of course, if your little one isn’t quite toilet trained by the time they reach preschool age, don’t worry. Most preschools will help with toilet training when your child is at school. The key is to observe your child and ease them into toilet training, without rushing them.
Get your child comfortable without you around
The more comfortable your child is away from you, and in the care of someone else, the better. To prepare your little one for this transition, start by having relatives, friends or babysitters take care of them.
If they’re especially “sticky”,you may want to start by leaving them in another person’s care for an hour, then two, then more – until they’re completely comfortable being away from you for half a day, or even a full workday.
Teach your child basic independence
A good preschool has caretakers who will watch over your children, every minute of the day, giving them directions on what to do at all times. This includes the little things like washing their hands, feeding themselves, and taking naps.
All this can of course, be made even easier if your child is already equipped with these basic skills – so all they’ll need to do, is follow their teacher’s instructions (instead of having these things done for them). What’s more, being able to do these small activities by themselves also builds self-confidence, an essential element for developing every other skill.
You can start by asking your child to do something simple – such as picking up a book or toy and bringing it to you – and turn that into a game. Gradually, incorporate other skills and activities that will build their independence and confidence.
At school, your child’s sense of independence will be further developed by their caretakers and with the time they’re spending with their friends there. A good preschool will also give you updates on your kid’s development in this area (and others).
Read to your child
Bedtime stories aren’t only good for putting your child to bed. When you read to your kid, you’re giving your little one the gift of language and imagination. You’re lighting the spark in their developing brains that will soon transform into creative thinking, innovation, and linguistic abilities.
It’s a great idea to keep books
the home, in the car, and wherever you may spend time with your kid. Substitute screen time for reading time, and you’ll have a child that will surely adapt better at preschool, and learn faster too.
Start socialising early
Social skills are an incredibly important part of our lives, and it’s best to start developing these abilities when your child is young. In fact, this is one of the biggest reasons why parents send their children to preschool – for the social interaction with other toddlers. This is especially important if your child doesn’t have siblings of similar age to play and bond with.
However, these social activities generally involve children sitting still and listening to stories, singing songs, or participating in other activities. For pre-schoolers, these can be challenging tasks, as they may be more inclined to only do the things they want to do – instead of participating in group activities.
You can start socialising your child before preschool by taking them to parent-toddler events, arranging playdates with friends who have toddlers around their age, or signing them up for age-specific classes (such as tumbling).
Being alone is also important
While socialising is important to a child’s development, so too is being able to work and play on their own. If your little one is already happily doodling or playing for hours at home, you’re in luck.
Otherwise, start practising by having your child do an engrossing activity (i.e. one that your child already likes) on their own for 10 to 15 minutes on their own, before you step in with help, or as a playmate. Gradually extend this time to longer periods.
Listen to your child’s concerns
If your child is naturally outgoing, she may be more than ready to spend every day at preschool. But parents of introverted children may find their kids reserved, or even worried about the “big change” that’s happening.
As a parent, you’ll need to listen to your child in both verbal and non-verbal ways – as many reserved children may not voice their uncertainty out loud. Instead, they’ll show it in their body language and change in behaviour.
Don’t reproach your child or make them feel guilty for being afraid. Let them know that it’s normal to feel happy, sad, excited, or fearful. Talk to your child about what they can expect to see and do at school, so they will be mentally and emotionally prepared for the journey ahead. For more help, read this FAQ– put together by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).
Be prepared for a (possibly) rocky first few weeks
Going from a familiar home environment, into a new environment like a preschool, can be a big change for both children and parents alike. Whether it’s the stress of being away from their usual caretakers, potential exposure to viruses from other children, or lacking warm clothing to keep them comfortable in air-conditioned rooms, your child may feel uncomfortable (or even catch fall sick) in the first few days or weeks of their time in their new preschool.
If this happens, don’t worry. Experienced parents can tell you that it’s all part of the process of growing up and transitioning to a new environment. And once your child is well-adjusted, they’ll be flourishing with their new friends and caretakers in preschool!
The best time to start, is now
While most of the social and developmental skills discussed in this article are abilities that your child will pick up at preschool, preparing your little one early will certainly make their first weeks at preschool more comfortable – meaning a happier kid who’s excited to go to school every day. (And much easier mornings for you!)