For many children (and parents!) preschool is a big change.
I think there are many valuable skills that can be learned by interacting with peers in preschool.
Despite knowing that preschool was a solid choice, I had a mild panic attack the night before my son, Theo, started preschool.
I found myself googling all sorts of things… but mainly “How do I know if my child is ready for preschool?”
It’s probably going to be more traumatic for you then for them.
They are ready.
There are only a few things that are absolutely necessary before your child enters preschool, and I have them all outlined below.
You can find more tips on how to prepare your child for big transitions in this post right here.
*Post contains affiliate links.
*This post originally appeared at the blog Christine Keys.
Steps to Take Before Preschool
Potty Train Your Child
This seems pretty obvious, but it’s too important to leave out.
One of the most important steps to attending preschool is making sure that your child is fully potty trained!
This includes being able to independently pull their pants up and down and being able to wipe… because this is something that their teacher is NOT going to help them with!
Tip: Make sure to send your child in pants that are easy to pull up and down. Save anything with snaps or buttons for the weekend.
Them How to Communicate Their Needs
We have a sort of sixth sense with our children.
We see them start to wiggle and tell them to go use the potty.
They start acting grumpy and we know it’s time for them to take a break from whatever they’re doing.
Or perhaps they get overheated easily when outside playing and you know to give them extra water or have them take off their sweatshirt.
Your child’s teacher isn’t going to know your child like you do. They can’t sense when your child is hot or has to use the bathroom.
It is up to your child to communicate these needs to the teacher, which means it’s up to YOU to teach them these skills!
Visit the Preschool
Make sure to take your child on a tour of the preschool before they actually start.
Check with the school to see if they have some sort of open house right before school starts. If they don’t, I advise doing a little tour in the spring before school gets out for the summer.
Tip: Be absolutely certain to check out the playground, as it’s bound to be the favorite part of the day!
My twin girls, Josie and Margo, are starting preschool this year.
They are so excited because they have gone with me every morning to drop off Theo and know exactly what to expect.
Related post –> The Benefits of Keeping Twins Together in Preschool
Purchase a Backpack
One of my favorite things when my son started preschool was seeing him with his cute little backpack.
We want cute, but also functional. Don’t buy one of the itty bitty backpacks that are meant for preschoolers.
Their backpack will need to be large enough to hold a lunchbox and folder. I suggest purchasing one that’s high quality that will last a few years.
We have used the same backpack from Pottery Barn Kids for 3 years of preschool and plan on using it for Kindergarten as well.
Tip: The preschool backpacks are usually only big enough to hold a change of clothes. Get a backpack that is labeled for Kindergarten and up and it should be able to hold a lunchbox and folder with no problem!
Read Books About Preschool
One of the best ways to prepare children for transitions is by reading books about them.
There are so many wonderful options out there, but I’ll include a few of my favorites, and you can always check your local library as well.
Adjust Your Schedule as Needed
If your little one is starting preschool in the fall, it’s a good idea to adjust your schedule at least by the end of summer.
You don’t have to drastically change things, just ensure that their sleeping and eating schedules align closely enough to the preschool schedule.
For example, if preschool starts at 8:30 and your kiddo usually snoozes until 9:00, that certainly needs to be adjusted!
And, if you typically eat lunch at 11:00, but they don’t eat until 12:30 at preschool, it’s best to start moving lunchtime later at home. Perhaps give a heartier breakfast as well 😉
Steps to Avoid With Preschool
ABC’s and 123s
Seriously, don’t worry about prepping your child academically. IT’S PRESCHOOL!
At this young age, children learn best by playing, and that is what they will be doing at school!
They figure out colors, numbers, and letters from singing songs, reading books, and doing puzzles.
The skills that are the most important for preschoolers to learn are problem-solving and social skills. And guess what? They learn those through play and interacting with their peers.
Granted, they do have preschools that push academics, but I don’t suggest those at all.
I promise you that your child won’t be behind. Theo started reading on his own at the age of 4, and now, at 5, is reading chapter books.
On the first day of preschool, you want to make it as close to a regular day of school as possible.
On a regular day of school, you’re not going to walk in with your child and sit with them for 20-minutes.
So, don’t do that on the first day!
It’s really hard if your child starts sobbing and holding on to you, but a prolonged goodbye will only make it worse.
You staying and reassuring them that things will be OK will only make them worry that things will NOT be OK.
Keep your voice bring and cheery, and assure them that they will have a great day and you can’t wait to hear about all the fun they had when you pick them up!
Then exit as fast as you possible can. You can even go to your car and cry if you need to!
I know that I certainly did because oh my word it meant that my little boy was growing up!
But then, I dried it up and went home to put my twins down for a nap and enjoyed a delicious cup of hot coffee.
Your child will love to preschool, and you will love having a little bit of break! Seriously, it will leave you feeling refreshed and recharged… and also ridiculously excited to see them when they get home!