Starting school is an exciting time for young children and their parents. It can be a daunting time too. But with a little preparation and encouragement, most children will settle in easily at school. Don’t worry if your child hasn’t attended a childcare setting or preschool. Playing with other children, whether friends and family members, or other children at the park or soft play area, is good practice for forming friendships with classmates at school. Often children, who don’t know one another will make friends very easily, but if your child struggles, teach them some useful phrases such as “can I join in?” or “do you want to share?”
One important thing is to keep any preparation completely fun-packed, and learning should not be a chore. Here are some tried and tested tips to help prepare you toddler for pre-school.
Focus on your child: Make the whole experience as fun as possible. Give your child your full attention on the way to school. Phone calls can wait. Tell her stories about when you were a little girl and how much you liked school. Sing songs. Ensure that all the preparation for school is done well in advance and you focus only on the child right from the time she wakes up. Be excited, smile a lot, and be happy for her.
Story time: Tell your toddler a lot of stories about going to play school. You may find a lot of them in exclusive book stalls for kids. Else you could make up your own stories. Choose several to share with your child over the summer before school starts. Talk about the story and how the characters are feeling. Ask how your child is feeling.
Use pretend play to explore the idea of preschool. Take turns being the parent, child and teacher. Act out common daily routines, such as saying bye to mommy and/or daddy, singing songs, reading stories, having Circle Time, playing outside, and taking naps. Reassure your child that preschool is a good place where she will have fun and learn. Answer her questions patiently. This helps children feel more in control, which reduces their anxiety.
Play at your new preschool. Visit your child’s preschool together. Ask when you can tour the school with your child. Play on the school playground a few times before your child starts the program. These visits increase your child’s comfort with and confidence in this new setting.