Get Your Little One Preschool Ready!
Tap into pretend play
Play is the best way to help little ones work through their feelings about change. My daughter loves to run a “school” at our house, and in doing so, she helps her little brother tackle some of his feelings about school. But you don't need an older sibling to make play work for your child.
Take turns playing the teacher, the child, and the parent. Try to incorporate things that might happen at the new preschool such as putting things away in the cubby, zipping sweatshirts independently, and eating snacks with friends. Watch nonverbal cues carefully during play to see what kinds of things might trigger worries in your child. Make it fun! Pretend field trips and celebrating birthdays are always fun preschool activities.
Give up some control
Kids worry when they don't know what to expect and when they feel a complete lack of control over something new. While playing through feelings and visiting the classroom can help kids understand what to expect, giving your child the power of choice can make a big difference.
Let your child choose his own backpack, lunchbox, and change of clothes to keep in the cubby. Let your child choose his own outfits and get dressed independently (even if, for instance, he wears his pants the wrong way for a solid year.) Let your child make choices about lunches and snacks (if possible). Putting your child in the driver's seat for some of these decisions helps your child feel a sense of control.
All preschools have their own policies about what can and can't come into the classroom or cubby (so check with the school first), but a small transitional object can make a big difference in the life of a little one. My daughter kept a family photo in her cubby, while my son was able to keep his lovey in his.
It's hard to be away from home. Sometimes one little reminder can help kids focus on the fun and experience fewer worries during the school day.
How have your little ones coped with the transition to preschool?