Guest writer Amelia Cunningham has put together her top tips to help prepare if your little one is starting pre-school this autumn!
The time has arrived for your toddler to start preschool. While starting preschool marks an exciting milestone, it may come with some conflicting emotions for both you and your child.
We all want our children to enjoy their time at preschool and, in short, one of our biggest fears is the risk that they won’t. We hope that they will have fun playing, we hope that they will meet new friends, we hope that they will enjoy learning new things, but the reality is that it might take your child a while to get there. And that’s OK.
While some may run through the doors and leave their parents’ arms without a second look, others may be more wary. Both are very normal. It’s a change, it’s a transition, and that’s why the lead up to their very first day is an important time to help both you and your child prepare.
I have compiled some top tips on how you can get you and your child preschool ready and ease you both into feeling great about this new milestone!
What you can do to help your child prepare
Visiting the preschool
Visit your child’s classroom and introduce your child to their teacher a few times before their first day. This will most definitely familiarise them with their new surroundings so it will be a lot less daunting when the day comes to wave them off. You could even try making the experience fun by discovering where they’ll put their backpack or eat lunch.
Reading about preschool
Reading books about starting preschool may just give your child the confidence they will need on her first day. There are lots of children’s books that follow a character on their journey to starting preschool which are a really effective way of putting the idea of preschool into context for your child.
Act it out at home
Imaginative play will be a fun way to bring the idea of your child starting preschool to life, from the comfort of their very own home! Play games, read stories, hang up their coat, put their backpack away and really try to set the scene of preschool.
Starting preschool is the start of your child gaining more independence. In the lead up to their start date you could help your toddler master skills such as using the toilet, putting shoes and socks on, or using a knife or fork.
How to help your child emotionally
Listening to your child’s worries
Asking your child lots of questions in the lead up to their first day is a great way to get them speaking and opening up about any worries. Expression is a really important part of development and the more your child feels like they can speak about their concerns, the more you will be able to reassure them.
Take extra note of the non-verbal gestures
Even if your toddler is a chatterbox, they might not be able to fully express their feelings just yet. Instead, they might become distressed, extra clingy, or quiet, so these are the things to look out for during the transitional period.
Another common one is regression in certain things that you thought you had already mastered. For example, they might stop using their knife and fork properly, or even have toilet accidents. Whatever it might be, your patience and understanding is what will comfort your child the most during this transition.
Plan to stay a little while
By staying for an extra 20 minutes for the first few days, you’ll both be able to explore the new surrounding and meet other children together. Once you start to see that your child is becoming more confident you can always ask the teacher to give them that extra bit of support and comfort once you leave, too.
Resist running back in
As hard as it might be, try to resist the urge to run back in and rescue your toddler. It may prolong the time it takes your child to adapt if they know you will always come back in the moment they get upset.
The teachers will have untold amounts of experience dealing with children who are distressed at the beginning, and they will be right there to make the transition easier for your child. You can always choose to wait outside the room until your child settles to put your mind at rest, or ring the preschool later on.
Stay positive & upbeat
It’s a big change for you watching your little one approach this milestone, and while it might be worrying and upsetting seeing your toddler grow up, staying positive and upbeat is key. It will most definitely reflect onto your child and give them more of a positive outlook towards the transition too!
You can start putting all of these things into action before your child’s first day to make the transition that little bit easier. Before you know it, your child will love going to preschool and all the worries you had will be a distant memory! Best of luck if your little one is starting soon!
Once you’ve got the preschool routine down, take a look at our tips for toddler teatimes to help your evenings run just as smoothly!