The first day of preschool for your little one can be equally nerve-racking for both child and parent. The mixed emotions of excitement, worry and apprehension are completely normal as your child embarks on a new adventure and makes their first tentative steps towards independence.
Here we present eight tips from Singapore American School’s Early Learning Center teachers to help ensure a smooth transition from home or preschool into the school routine.
Want more? Click here for tips on easing separation anxiety and preparing for the big day!
READ BOOKS ABOUT THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Find some storybooks about starting preschool to help prepare your child for their big day. Here are some recommendations:
PRACTICE SELF-HELP SKILLS
Help your child become independent by practicing unpacking and repacking their backpack, putting on socks and shoes, using utensils, eating their meals independently and so on.
VISIT THE PRESCHOOL TOGETHER
Some preschools let parents and kids visit the classroom before their first day of school. If you can, set up an appointment and let them explore the new environment while you ask questions about routines and activities. This will help boost your child’s confidence and increase their comfort level.
USE PRETEND PLAY
Act out daily routines that could take place at the preschool, such as saying goodbye, circle time, playing outside, having lunch independently and singing songs. While acting out these daily routines, take turns being the parent, child, and teacher. Remember to reassure your child that preschool is a place where they will learn and have fun!
SET UP A ROUTINE
Establishing a routine before the first day of preschool will help students learn about the sequence in which some activities are taking place and help children prepare mentally for the day ahead of time. Talk to your child about the morning and afternoon routine so they are not caught off guard by the new schedule. Establishing your child’s weeknight bedtime will help prepare them for the preschool schedule.
Start the tradition of shopping for special back-to-school supplies like a backpack, lunch bag, water bottle and school shoes. Get them involved by asking what snacks and lunch they would like to bring to school, shop for supplies together, and prepare the meals with your child. This gives them a sense of control and emphasises the fact that he or she is a “big kid” ready to start school.
REMEMBER TO LISTEN
Allow your child to express their feelings: listen closely and acknowledge what they're going through. Accept that your child may regress in some areas as they make developmental growth in another. Give them with love and support and recognise that the regressions are only temporary.
If you make the first day of school a big deal, your child might get more anxious. "Some well-meaning parents begin talking about preschool and building it up too far ahead of time, and by the time school starts, the child feels this is a huge event in her life, which can be overwhelming to a little one," shares Silvana Clark, author of 600 Tips For Early Childhood Directors. Talk about preschool in a casual and upbeat manner about three weeks before school starts. Associate your child’s surroundings with the environment they may be able to experience at school. For example, “When you go to preschool, you’ll get to play with blocks with your friends at school!” or “You’ll have a slide like that one at your preschool.”
Most important of all, remember to put on a happy face and tell your child that they will have a lot of fun meeting new friends, learning and playing at school! Good luck!
Before you go, click here for more tips on a smooth transition…