Making the transition to pre-K is a big one for your child, but also for you. Things are changing in an important way, making it a good idea to take the time to prepare together. There are many things to consider, including excitement, concerns and many adjustments from the way things have been.
This can make the time a rather emotional one, but with the right prepping, things will go much more smoothly. Your son or daughter can feel proud of being a big kid while overcoming the challenge of being separated from you while simultaneously beginning something unfamiliar.
Use the following steps to help to prep your big kid for starting pre-K. These will help you both to have fun with the idea instead of building anxiety around it:
Use pretend play – Explore the concept of pre-K. Take turns playing the role of the teacher and the student. Act out some of the more common routines, beginning with saying goodbye to Mommy or Daddy, taking off your jacket and hanging it on a hook, reading stories, singing songs, sitting in a circle on the carpet, having outdoor play and taking a nap. Focus on the fun associated with preschool and have patience as you answer all questions. The idea is to help your son or daughter to feel that they are in more control.
- Make a game out of doing things yourself – Create a game that helps your son or daughter to learn to become comfortable with some of the things he or she will need to do him or herself at pre-K. This can include unzipping a jacket and hanging it up, putting the jacket on and zipping it up, fastening his or her shoes, and putting on a backpack. Games can include racing to see who can do up their coat the fastest or putting everything in a backpack, closing it and putting it on.
- Read books on the subject – There are lots of books about starting pre-K. Borrow a few from your public library and enjoy them together. Talk with your child about what happens in the story. Discuss the way the characters feel. Ask your child how he or she is feeling, too.
- Have a school lunch picnic – If your child brings a lunch or snack to school, practice packing it together and then have a picnic. This will give your kid the chance to practice using the lunch or snack containers him/herself and while feeling comfortable eating from them.
- Visit the preschool – Ask the pre-K teacher if you can visit the school and classroom ahead of time, to let your child get to know the environment. Have a bit of a playtime in the yard if you can, too. This can boost your child’s confidence in the location because it adds familiarity.
- Start the new bedtime schedule early – At least 2 weeks ahead of the first day of school, start practicing school-year bedtime habits, such as a calming winding down routine before a set bedtime and waking time. This will help to make sure that your child will be well rested by the time the first day rolls around.
With these and other strategies to prepare your son or daughter for pre-K, you can increase his or her confidence and reduce anxieties ahead of time and he or she will be ready to have fun with the new experience.