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How to Prepare Your Child for Preschool


So much goes into a child's first-ever day of school - meeting new friends, saying goodbye to loved ones, learning the classroom's routine and teacher expectations, and dealing with emotions like anxiety or excitement. As a parent or guardian, how do you help your little one be successful when they go to preschool?

Here are five things to be sure you complete before your child heads to preschool:

"It's important that you model confidence."

1. Ask them how they feel about preschool

A week or two before your child heads off to preschool, talk to them about what they should expect and communicate about all the positives of going to school. However, don't forget to ask them how they feel about starting school and to watch their body language. According to Everyday Health, children may feel anxious or need reassurance about school before they experience it, and talking about the new friends they are going to have and all that they are going to learn can help them focus on the good things about school instead of their uneasiness. Starting school can cause you and your child to experience anxiety, and it's important that you model confidence about the experience and be aware of how everyone is feeling to ensure your family doesn't dwell on the negatives, Everyday Health noted. 

a pregnant woman hosting a baby showerPreparing your little one for their first day of preschool can help them have a positive experience.

2. Imagine what the day will be like

Stories are how we learn and experience the world in a safe environment, making books one of the best tools you have when you're preparing your child for school. Reading a fictional account of a child's first day of school can help your child visualize how their first day might be, helping to ease their anxiety and anticipate what it might be like. Carolyn Stolov, a family-life expert, told that families can even create their own book about the day with their children, allowing their little one to draw and visualize what they might experience before they get to school.

3. Establish routines

Your child's day - and yours - is about to change in a big way, even if preschool is just in the morning. Don't forget to maintain nighttime and morning routines so too much change doesn't happen at once, and take the opportunity to determine a set schedule for school days as early as possible. In an article for, Dr. Rebecca Palacios advised families not to discount the importance of daily routines and schedules in their children's lives. Transitions become smoother as children know what they are to expect from day to day, Dr. Palacios noted. 

4. Plan to get there early

Allow your child to meet their teacher before the school day kicks off by getting to school a bit early. According to Everyday Health, being early to school gives your little one the opportunity to talk to their teacher before you leave and to experience the classroom without all of the extra noise and chaos that comes with a room of preschoolers. Make sure everything is set the night before so your morning goes smooth - or as smooth as it can with a toddler - and you can stick to your plan of heading to school before the bell rings.

5. Start teaching manners

If your child has started learning how to say "please" and "thank you" before they enter the classroom, your teacher will thank you. Your child may not be able to contain themselves all the time or be able to understand the importance of manners at this age, but there are ways you can begin teaching them how to act politely around other people and to listen when the teacher speaks. According to Scholastic, practice politeness at home and start small with your expectations so your child has the best chance of making good choices during their first school experience.

"Families make the mistake of building school up in their children's head."

Be careful with your preparations

From visiting the school beforehand to roleplaying how to be polite, families can prepare for school in various ways. While the first day of preschool may feel like a huge moment, try not to over-hype it for your child or overprepare. Silvana Clark, a preschool teacher in Washington, told that parents and guardians should speak to their children about preschool in a casual but positive manner and give them information about what they can expect without going overboard. Clark noted families can make the mistake of building school up in their children's head, causing their little one to become overly anxious or overwhelmed. 

"There's no need to start preparing your child for preschool months in advance," Clark said. "Some well-meaning parents begin talking about preschool and building it up too far ahead of time, and by the time school starts, the child feels this is a huge event in her life, which can be overwhelming to a little one."

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