Preparing your toddler for preschool and kindergarten

12 Sep

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I definitely want to send Hannah to preschool.  Not every day, but once a week starting when she’s 3.  But she hasn’t been apart from me for an entire day before.  Ok, fine, she was once or twice, but she was with Aaron, so that doesn’t count.  Never in her life has she spent an entire day without one of us.  So I think going from that to even a whole day at preschool will be a bit of a shock.  And then there’s kindergarten.  That will be a huge shock (not just to her either!!).  So how do you prepare a child for preschool and/or kindergarten?

I’m no expert at such things, I’ve never even sent one child off to school!  Instead, here’s a guest post by someone who is an expert at such things: Kathleen Thomas of Primrose Schools .

Parents and children alike experience anxiety about what will happen when they go to a “big kid” school. But Kindergarten and Preschool is full of fun and exciting things to learn! There really is no need to feel anxious, because there are some things you can do to help your new school go-er to feel ready for school and lessen your child’s anxiety. This is an important milestone, and if done right, can be an enjoyable one, instead of one filled with anxiety. There are ten steps you can take to calm your child’s, and your, jitters about the first day of school:

Step One A family routine can help get your entire family used to this new event in your lives. Start a daily routine that will work with your schedule and make all family members stick to it. It is best if this routine gets started at least two weeks before school starts, so that your child can start getting the hang of a different routine. Getting used to a different routine as well as getting used to a new setting during the day at the same time can be more chaotic. Starting a routine first before school starts can help gently bring your child into the expected routine.

Step Two Don’t forget about the nighttime routine. Morning tasks can be made easier when done the night before. Packing book bags, getting homework done and picking out the next day’s outfit are some of the things you can help your child do the night before, so that you all are ready for the next day.

Step Three Get plenty of sleep—this goes for you as well as your child. Try reading a bedtime story to your child, but make sure it is early enough in the evening so everyone can get more rest.

Step Four Read books about school and separation issues to your child before school even starts. This can help young children to prepare mentally and emotionally from being away from you during the day once they go to school. Some good books include:

· First Day, by Joan Rankin

· Don’t Go, by Jane Breskin Zalben

· When Mommy and Daddy Go to Work, by Joanna Cole

Step Five Get ready for separation by gradually increasing the amount of time you are away from your child. Take him to Grandma’s house and stay away for maybe 30 minutes. The next time you spend time away, make it an hour, and so forth. This will help your child realize that they can be away from you for a typical school day and it is okay.

Step Six Most schools have a “back to school” night, or something similar where you can go to the school with your child and take a tour of the classroom and meet teachers. Other parents will be there with their children as well, so have your child meet other children. Familiar faces help ease the transition on the first day of school. Afterwards, talk about how fun everything looked, and what your child is most looking forward to.

Step Seven Talk about what your child’s day might be like. Start with, “When you get to school, you will get to play with your friends and listen to stories. You will have snack time and then a resting time. When the day is over, we will be there to take you home.” This can help your child visualize what school will be like and ease her fears for the first day.

Step Eight Get school supplies with your child. Let him choose some supplies and talk about how and what he will use them for. This sets up the excitement and anticipation for school to start.

Step Nine When it is time for school and you drop her off, make your goodbyes short and sweet. Give her a quick hug and kiss, and send her on her way. Promise to come back when the day is over. Be cheerful about the entire process, because this will tell your child that you expect all to go well.

Step Ten Set up great communication with your child’s teacher. They are there to help your child succeed in school and want the best for him as much as you do. The more you show your partnership with the teacher, the more your child will pick up on this behavior and not be afraid of the teacher. Your child will feel more secure when he sees you taking an interest in what happens in the classroom. The more confident you are about your child entering school, the more confident your child will be. Setting up routines and showing your child that this is a normal part of life can make the transition to school a happy and seamless one.

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4 Responses to “Preparing your toddler for preschool and kindergarten”

  1. Brandy September 13, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    “When it is time for school and you drop her off, make your goodbyes short and sweet. Give her a quick hug and kiss, and send her on her way. ”

    I taught Pre-K and Kindergarten for four years and I loved each of those kids, but I wish wish wish parents were able to follow the quick good-bye concept – It really does make it easier on the children, albeit harder on the parent 🙂

  2. Mary Williams September 16, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    I second the night time routine, this is so important for my son when he goes to daycare. He really needs his sleep and it makes for a great morning! I’m stopping by from friday blog hop!

  3. LB(cruiseshipblogger) October 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Where are the rest of the posts in your guest blog category? There’s just this one and I’ve written you a couple that ought to be here too. (The boat one and the birthday one.)

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