1. Develop a Routine
When your child attends preschool, they'll likely be entering into a new schedule and routine that the educators establish. Before attending preschool, it's good to get your little one ready by following your own rhythm and routine at home. You can do this by writing a schedule, including visual cues, and then posting it in a high-traffic space in your home. "Having a routine at home can help them follow a routine in preschool," says Tryphena Perumalla-Gagnon, a mother of two and board-certified elementary school teacher. She also suggests attending library programs or playgroups, if possible, which she says is an excellent way to introduce repetition and routine to your child. For example, every Tuesday, you might take your child to the library program. It will become a day they can look forward to each week, where they're likely to be introduced to a program that will become familiar and repetitive.
2. Encourage Independence
A great way to prepare your child for preschool is to cultivate independence. Encouraging your child to independently feed themselves with a fork or a spoon, drink from a cup, and even put on their own shoes and coat is a great way to set them up for success at preschool. Preparing your child ahead of time will eliminate the learning curve and give them confidence.
3. Help Your Child Identify Their Emotions
The emotions of a preschooler can be overwhelming — but parents can prepare their children by helping them to identify their emotions. Introducing resources, like the book The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Win Lee, says Perumalla-Gagnon, can help to establish what emotions and feelings are. Once a child can identify their emotions, they can learn how to work with them and even overcome feelings they might have. This can make a major difference as they enter preschool and experience all kinds of feelings. Studies also show that the more practice a child has with identifying their emotions, the more resilient they'll be in the future.
"...building a library that introduces children to different types of families and people helps develop empathy and build awareness of the beauty of differences."
4. Introduce Your Child to Unique Experiences
Entering preschool is certainly a new experience for a first-time preschooler, but a good way to set them up for success is to introduce your child to new experiences consistently. Whether it's new parks or trails in your neighborhood or trying new foods and experimenting with cooking and texture at home, to meeting new friendly faces at playgroups. These new experiences will help your child adjust to the many new sights, smells, tastes, and experiences in their classroom.
5. Teach Your Child About Differences
"When our eldest was born, we talked about what values we wanted to impart in his life," says Perumalla-Gagnon. She says building a library that introduces children to different types of families and people helps develop empathy and build awareness of the beauty of differences. She says, "having your child understand their social location is important, but also [purchasing books] for your home that includes inclusive family types, body types, gender, and sexuality."
It's also important to remember that COVID-19 has impacted the social exposures that our youngest children have had. Some families don't feel comfortable going to the library or haven't been able to meet too many new faces. Being gentle with yourself and your child and knowing that these social experiences will come with time is a great way to prepare for whatever adventure might come next.
Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based out of Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe & Mail.
Brianna's budget-savvy ways has attracted media attention, and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe & Mail and The Guelph Mercury. In April 2016 Brianna will be featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less, alongside co-writer Brooke Burke. You can find Brianna's website at Brianna Bell Writes.