Sending your child to preschool is an excellent way to prepare for kindergarten and expose your child to other students and a classroom environment. Since preschool mostly focuses on learning through play and developing the social and emotional skills needed to be successful in kindergarten, there isn't much you need to do to prepare your child from an academic standpoint. Getting your child ready for preschool mostly involves helping him or her adapt to a routine and being away from you.
Set a Schedule
If your child doesn't already have a daily schedule in place, it's a good idea to start developing one at least a few weeks before preschool starts, if possible. Having an established home routine helps your child get used to a more structured day like at school. If she's used to that at home, adapting to daily activities at school won't be such a difficult transition. Visual reminders are excellent for small children, so consider making picture cards that help your child see what's coming next, such as meals, snacks, free play time, reading time, outside play and anything else you do on a regular basis.
Developing a set time for bed and a morning routine for getting dressed, having breakfast and brushing teeth is particularly important as your child may have to get ready quicker than he or she is used to in order to be at school on time.
Incorporate Preschool Practice Into Play
Before you send your child off on the first day, you can help make the transition easier by practicing how it will go through dramatic play. Act out saying goodbye and sitting quietly for circle time or rug time. Create a special story time where your child can practice sitting still while you read books about preschool to help him or her understand what's to come, which can help alleviate anxiety.
Develop a goodbye ritual that you practice at home to help ease any separation anxiety your child may feel, especially in the early days. This doesn't have to be an elaborate procedure. It could be something as simple as kissing your child's ear so he or she can "hear" your kisses all day long or a special hand signal that you can do throughout the day to remind each other that you'll be together again soon.
Focus on Self-Help Skills
Helping your child learn basic self-care skills is much more important for preschool readiness than making sure he or she can recite the alphabet. Incorporate basic toileting skills, washing hands, getting a coat on and off and other self-help skills into your daily routine. If your child resists or gets frustrated, make it into a game where you encourage him or her to try the activity two or three times before you'll help out. Making learning skills fun by having "race" games or bringing in imaginative play, such as getting your shoes on so you can run out the door before the mommy dinosaur eats you up, can help alleviate some of the frustration and make your child look forward to learning how to do things for him or herself.
Once your child starts school, the biggest thing you can do to help him or her is to remain involved. Discuss any changes or issues you're having at home with your child's teacher so you can work together to make the best learning environment possible, and ask the teacher for suggestions on what you can be doing at home to help.
These are just a few tips for preparing your child for preschool. To learn more, contact preschools such as Small World Early Learning & Development Center.