Preschool is a major milestone in your child’s life for a variety of reasons. In preschool, the groundwork is laid for kids to take on more structured learning activities and socialize in larger groups. At an early learning village or other type of preschool facility, your child will start honing their skills for language, math, the sciences, the arts, and athletics. They’ll also spend more time in the day with their teachers and fellow students, and less time with you at home. Knowing how much is due to change in your toddler’s life come their preschool enrollment, it’s understandable that both you and your child may be feeling anxious about it.
Parental support will go a long way in easing your child’s worries and securing an enjoyable preschool experience for them. To that end, here are five helpful tips for supporting your child as they begin this exciting but apprehension-filled new journey into their early learning years.
Invite Your Child to Express Their Worries
The very first thing that you should do is to let your child know that it’s okay to be scared or uneasy about starting preschool. After all, it’s a big change from the daily routine they derive comfort from. Tell them that it’s perfectly valid to feel the things they feel and to let those feelings run their course. In addition, assure them that you will listen to them whenever they need an ear.
This is an ongoing step that you should practice with your child from before they start preschool to the months that they’re actually enrolled in their preschool program. Regular support in this manner will keep them from feeling alone and from thinking that they are the only ones who are anxious about this big change.
Prep Them for School Using Role Play
Another way that you can demonstrate your support to your child is to show your willingness to role play with them. Not only does role play stoke a toddler’s imagination; it helps them envision the thoughts or feelings they’re likely to experience when they’re in a certain situation. That makes the situation both less unfamiliar and less frightening to deal with.
You and your preschooler can roleplay being a teacher and a student, for example, or you can pretend to be one of your child’s new friends. You can also rehearse certain skills that they can expect to do in school, like cleaning up after themselves or arranging books, toys, and utensils in a particular order.
Read Books about Preschool Together
Reading about preschool is another activity that you can do with your child to prepare them for the event and to show your parental support for them. Going through other people’s stories together is not only calming, but also extremely enriching for your child’s perspective. The illustrations in the books can help them envision their own school setting, and the lessons can teach them concepts like being generous and showing empathy.
You can search for books about preschool in your local bookstore, or even online. Ask teachers and fellow parents about titles that they think your toddler will enjoy or get a kid’s book subscription box from Literati.
Incorporate Some Familiarity into Their Day
It may also be a good idea to include some familiar elements into your child’s new preschool routine. This may be extremely helpful to them, as having something on hand to remind them of home will make the preschool environment seem a little less alien to them. As such, it will be easier for them to get comfortable and have a good time learning and socializing with their peers.
Does your child have a favorite snack that they like eating at home? You can include it in their lunchbox. You can start their day on a good note by singing together a song that they like when you’re driving them to school. In addition, you can ask the teachers if your child can bring a familiar item with them to school, like a photo of the family or one of their favorite toys.
Be Up-to-Date about Your Child’s Daily Preschool Life
Lastly, be as up to date as you can be about how your child is doing in this new phase of their life. Ask them questions about how their day went, what they learned, what school routine they liked the most, and who their new friends are. Let them talk freely and allow them to be as expressive as they’d like to be about their school experiences.
It would be good to praise them for going out of their comfort zone, trying new things, and being kind and engaging to their peers. And from time to time, reach out to their teachers and ask them about how your child is behaving in class. Exchange thoughts with your child’s teachers about how to get them to grow and to learn—both inside and outside of the classroom.
There are a lot of additional resources out there on overseeing your preschooler’s growth milestones and learning how to support your preschooler when they’re feeling anxious. If your family is based in Singapore, you can also tune in to news from the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) for up-to-date directives for parents of preschoolers.
Support your child as they begin preschool, and don’t forget to seek some additional preschool support for yourself as a parent! Preparing with the right preschool essentials can be critical to success!