There are so many back to school posts out there, but most are geared towards the big kids. Now it’s time for the preschoolers to shine. With both my experience as a preschool mom and a preschool teacher, I’ve compiled a list of things to help your family get ready for preschool. If you start about 10 days before the first day, you can do one thing each day and be totally prepared for the big day!
1. Read Some Books About School
Books are always my number one go to for explaining new things to kids. Here are two of my favorites aimed at preschoolers.
- Maisy Goes to Preschool (By: Lucy Cousins) – This is my favorite for getting ready for preschool. It walks kids through the day and lets them know all of the positive things they can expect. Everything is very age appropriate.
- If You Take a Mouse to School (By: Laura Numeroff) – This is a great silly story that just exposes children to school environments and makes them feel good.
2. Start Working on Sleep Schedules
It’s easy to get away from routines and regular bedtimes in the summer. I’ve even been slowly sleeping just a little bit later and later in the mornings which is SO NICE! The problem is, when the routine of earlier wake up times, longer days, and a lot more going on during the day starts up, an irregular sleep schedule can cause some problems! A week before school starts, really work on setting up a regular bedtime and wake up time for your child (and for yourself if you think you need it). You can check out what the AAP recommends for your child and build a schedule from there.
3. Do Something Fun
Yes, I was just telling you work on bedtimes and early wake up times, but the truth is, summer isn’t over YET. Take time in these last few days to just do something fun. Head out to the pool for a fun playday, spend some time at the lake, or just be silly and play games all day at home. Soon enough the routine and rigor of a schedule will be in place and these moments will be harder to find.
4. Practice Independence with Shoes
While no one expects preschoolers to tie their own shoes, it is extremely helpful in both the home and school setting for preschoolers to be able to put their shoes on independently. I actually replaced my son’s tie shoes with stretchy laces (Lock Laces on Amazon) in preschool. If you have a child who isn’t a fan of keeping shoes on, this is also a good time to practice that. In most preschool settings, it is required for students to keep closed toe shoes on all the time. If you have a child who usually kicks off their kicks after a few minutes, you may want to teach the importance and safety of wearing shoes.
5. Go See the School
Whether your child is returning to the same school, or starting a new school, take some time the week before school starts to do a little drive and check the place out. Even if you aren’t able to actually go into the school, remembering what the outside looks like and knowing it is a familiar place might help that first day anxiety just a tad.
6. Pack a Lunch
If your child will be eating lunch at school, it’s a great idea to practice a few packed lunches before the year kicks off. You can collect a few ideas on what are good things to pack for your little one, and they can have fun trying to open and close containers, drink out of regular cups if possible, and clean up their area when they are done. Of course what this looks like will vary depending on the age of your child, but some 3 year olds and definitely 4 year olds are great at cleaning up their spaces when they are finished with their food.
7. Wash Hands
Preschool students are asked to wash their hands A LOT. Most preschools will ask students to wash hands:
- when they enter the classroom.
- before and after playing with sensory materials (sand, playdough, slime, etc.).
- before and after eating.
- after using the potty.
- after blowing noses.
- after outside play.
- and more!
Your child’s teachers will definitely be working to teach your child great handwashing technique. It will definitely help both your child and the teachers though if you do a little pre-teaching at home. Did you know that you and your children should scrub and lather your hands with soap for about 20 seconds before rinsing? That’s about how long it takes to hum the “Happy Birthday Song” twice.
8. Check Your Paperwork
Do you have a packet of papers that your preschool needs on file in the office? Check back into that folder you had months ago and see what is left to fill out. Usually you can count on needing a statment of health or physical form filled out by your pediatrician and a record of your child’s immunizations. Each school is a little different though, so find your school’s requirements and have it all ready to go. Many of these forms are state requirements, so help your school out and make sure your ducks are all in a row.
9. Practice Potty Skills
When I sent my oldest to preschool, I was so concerned that his completely potty trained self would forget everything, not ask for help, and have an accident at school. That never happened. Now, as a preschool teacher, I have learned that so many parents share the same concern. The truth is, preschool teachers are always there to help children with trips to the potty. However, the truth is also that as a parent, we want to make it as easy as possible for our children to be independent in the potty when it is appropriate. That’s a really big part of preschool: independence in the potty and preparing for “big school.” The biggest tip I have is to make sure your child’s clothing encourages their independence. Buttons, snaps, zippers, and belts can really get in the way when a small child is trying to get themselves to the potty.
10. Pack a Bag
Many preschools ask that children carry a tote bag to school for their projects and treasures. Preschool children will have plenty of help loading up their bags each day, but you might want to let your child practice packing their bag themselves. At least at home, your child can practice putting their lunchbox or a change of clothes into a tote bag and carrying it around. If nothing else, this is actually a great exercise in motor skills and can really give them some purpose when getting ready for the school day.
Preschool is an amazing time in a child’s life. I have experienced preschool as a parent, and now I am experiencing it as both a parent and a teacher. I absolutely love working with these children and seeing the growth and independence they gain throughout the school year. Hopefully this list of tips and ideas will make your own preschooler’s transition smooth and successful.
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