Prepare your toddler for preschool with these top 10 tips! Starting preschool can be quite intimidating for little ones. It’s an unknown world to them without the safety of mommy and daddy right there. These tips will help make the transition to preschool as easy as possible.
How to Prepare Your Toddler for Preschool
Make the Transition to Preschool as Easy as Possible!
Being a stay at home mommy has had it’s ups and downs the last 5 years….don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change ANY thing about my decision to stay home with my Little Man……. but……I need some ME time! Well, not really “me” time but blogging time, cleaning time, time without the Little Man AND the Little Man needs some time away from Mommy. I mean…..can YOU imagine spending 24/7/365 with YOUR mom??? I’d go insane too!
Seriously though….I think 3 is a perfect age to start preschool. Little Man started preschool at age 3 and he immediately began excelling. At this point it’s more about socialization than actual schooling. Little Man gets some of the independence that he so desperately strives for, he has a chance to work on social situations without having Mommy come to the rescue, he has new adults that he must listen to, and he has the chance to navigate life with a little bit of autonomy.
I’m so excited for him to go to preschool…and in the same moment I’m sad and scared as well. I mean, what happened to my Little Man? He’s not so “little” anymore! And what’s going to happen when I’m not there? I mean, what if aliens attack….are his teachers really going to know what to do? I watch Falling Skies….I know what the deal is! 😉 Bottom Line…..this next life step is not only a BIG step for him but it’s a BIG step for me too! It’s time to cut the umbilical cord and let my Little Man grow into the Big Boy that he is.
There’s nothing more rewarding than watching your child learn and grow. The excitement to share the new things he’s learned at school makes all of my trepidation melt away! So today I bring you my top tips for how to prepare your toddler for preschool.
Prepare Your Toddler for Preschool
1. Talk About It…A LOT!
For several weeks before school starts talk about how exciting it is that your Big Boy or Big Girl is going to start school. Talk about how much fun it’s going to be playing with new friends and learning new things. Talk about what school is like and what your child can expect to do at school every day. Create a sense of excitement and intrigue about going to school.
2. Read bedtimes stories that talk about school.
Here’s a great list of stories about going to school that I compiled. You can find many of these at your library or super cheap on Amazon. By reading about going to school you’ll be reinforcing what an exciting event it’s going to be.
3. Go to the Orientation
This will be your child’s first experience meeting his/her teachers and friends. Make a big deal about the classroom and how much fun it’s going to be playing in there!
4. Go School Supply Shopping
For preschool you won’t have a HUGE list of supplies but there will be supplies that the teachers will ask for….make this a fun event for your child. Obviously you can’t let your little one pick out all of the school supplies or you may end up spending a fortune…but let them feel involved by grabbing certain items out of those big bins they always have at the stores. I let Little Man grab the crayons, glue sticks, and any other cheap little items and put them in the cart himself. Then I offer choices when it comes to other items for him to choose and put in the cart himself. It gives him a sense of ownership and accomplishment by picking out his own supplies.
5. Pick Out a Special “First Day” Outfit
This doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a brand new $50 outfit! This simply means go to the closet with your child and pick out something that they want to wear for the first day of school. In order to keep the Batman costume away the first few days I give Little Man a choice between 2-3 shirts and whether he wants to wear shorts or jeans. Then we lay everything out including any accessories like socks, hat, belt, etc so it’s all ready to go the next morning.
6. Use the drop off line…starting with day ONE!
If your school offers a drop off line USE IT! It really does help with the separation anxiety. The first few days are going to be tough…yes your child is going to scream and cry. They may not understand why someone they have only met once or twice are taking them away. BUT, trust me, once they get in that class room they are having fun and have forgotten all about the episode in the car.
Our preschool offers a great drop off line where the parents can drop off and wait about 15 minutes then get escorted to the room where we can peek behind a one sided glass window to see how happy our children are. Ask your preschool if they offer something similar….but don’t get caught by your Little One or the episode will start all over again! By starting this on Day 1 your child will come to know this as the norm and he/she will be ready to jump out of the car for school in no time!
When Little Man started preschool it took him 3 days of screaming and crying to then realize that he liked going to school.
7. Get there early!
When Little Man walks into a room that’s already filled with people he gets very anxious and clingy. He’s like a completely different child who is shy and introverted….but when we’re one of the first to arrive at a play date, library story time, or a party then he’s completely fine. So I always strive to be one of the first ones to arrive at any social gathering because it puts Little Man at ease….it allows him to check things out and explore before other people arrive. Then as people arrive he’s so excited to show them what he’s discovered and he doesn’t even notice when the room is packed.
8. Don’t pick your child up early.
I mean, if you have an appointment or something specific then by all means pick them up early, but don’t pick them up early just because you miss them. I know, I sound like a cold-hearted B*&#@ right now! Seriously though, if you get into the habit of picking them up early then they will come to expect that and then on that fateful day that you have adjusted and pick them up “on time” it’s going to feel like you’re late to them. Just like when they were babies, kids like routine…so try not to deviate from your preschool routine.
Plus, think about the other children in the room. When Alex’s mommy comes and gets him early then Mary, Alan, and Joe are wondering “Where’s my mommy?” “Why isn’t she coming to get me?” And this could cause a meltdown for other children who are also experiencing preschool and separation anxiety for the first time. Enjoy your time….go grab a latte if you’re ready to pick up your sweet one a little early! Bring a book and sit in the carpool line while you wait the hour or so for school to let out. You’re child is going to be thrilled to see you whether it’s right this minute or an hour from now.
9. Talk About the School Day
As soon as you pick your little one up from school start talking about all the fun they had at school….then talk about it again at dinner with daddy. By constantly reinforcing the fun and learning that took place you will not only grow your child’s love of school but also their self-esteem. Children want to feel like what they are saying adds value to the conversation….just like we do as adults. So make sure to encourage your child to talk about their day and praise them for everything they learned so far!
10. Make Time For Fun After School
Don’t let school be the only fun your toddler has…plan special activities after school. Sometimes we go out for a special lunch on Fridays or I’ll have a movie day set up where we’ll watch Frozen and eat popcorn.
Preschool is such an amazing step for your little one! It’s a big transition but by taking the right steps you can prepare your toddler for preschool in an easy and seamless way. And it’s not just a big step for them but it’s a big step for you too mom…so don’t forget to reward yourself along the way too!
Oh, and get involved! You don’t have to be super mom to make an impact…just volunteer when you can….help out as Room Parent one day….help with the Christmas party…..volunteer to run the bake sale….get involved however you feel comfortable….your child will be thrilled to see you at THEIR school and the teachers will appreciate the help.
11. Take Time for Yourself
Enjoy those few hours that your child is in preschool. For the first week that Little Man was in preschool I picked a favorite breakfast restaurant to go eat at. The transition is tough for moms too– it’s okay to treat yourself.
What tips do you have to prepare your toddler for preschool? Share in the comments below!