There’s a lot you can do in the weeks before to get ready for the big day but try to keep your efforts low-key. If you make too big a deal out of this milestone your child may end up being more worried than excited. Here are some ideas to keep the focus on fun.
Use pretend play to explore the idea of preschool. Take turns being the parent, child and teacher. Act out common daily routines such as saying good-bye to mommy and/or daddy, taking off your coat, singing songs, reading stories, having Circle Time, playing outside and taking naps. Reassure your child that preschool is a good place where she will have fun and learn. Answer his/her questions patiently. This helps children feel more in control which reduces their anxiety.
Read books about preschool. There are many books about going to preschool available from the library or our book club. Choose several to share with your child over the summer before school starts. Talk about the story and how the characters are feeling. Ask how your child is feeling.
Make a game out of practicing self-help skills. These skills include unzipping her coat, hanging her coat on a hook, putting on her backpack, fastening her shoes. For example, you might want to have a “race” with your child to see how quickly she can put on her shoes. When you play school together, you can give your child the chance to practice taking off her coat, zipping her backpack closed and sitting “criss-cross applesauce.” Pack up lunch one day before school starts and have a picnic together. This will give her the chance to practice unzipping her lunch box and unwrapping her sandwich—important skills for the first day!
Play at your new preschool. Visit your child’s preschool together. Ask when you can tour the school with your child. Attend a camp or Preschool Open Play. These visits increase your child’s comfort with and confidence in this new setting.