The start of preschool is exciting – but sometimes scary – for you and your child. Whether she attends school for a few hours a week or several hours a day, there’s a lot to do and consider.
Scholastic offers a list of considerations to help you and the little student prepare for life-long learning. What kind of program is best? How can you tell when your child is ready? What will she learn? What’s the best way to prepare? Learn how you can make this transition as easy as A, B, C!
Counting Down to the First Day of Preschool
- 12 months before: Find out what programs are available in your community and what their applications/admissions policies are. Visit schools you’re interested in – be sure to do it while class is in session. Some will have organized tours and formal application processes, while others just want a small deposit to secure your spot. Follow up with the relevant application procedures for the schools you’re interested in.
- 4 weeks before: Once you’ve decided upon a school, review its policies to learn how teachers will help your child make the transition. Many offer a phase-in period to help her acclimate.
- 4 weeks before: If necessary, adjust sleep schedules so that bedtime and naps coordinate with the school schedule.
- 4 weeks before: Begin talking with your child about school, but keep it casual. Point out the building as you drive by, or mention while coloring that there will be lots of fun art projects in preschool. Also remember that she will pick up on your own feelings, so try to stay positive and excited – without being overwhelming! It’s a delicate balance.
- 3 weeks before: Read books about school to familiarize your child with the concept. Stories will also prompt conversation about his own new school. But don’t focus exclusively on these kinds of books – keep reading other favorites too.
- 2 weeks before: Go school shopping. Have your child help you pick out a few new (washable, comfortable) outfits, some shoes, or a backpack. Being involved gives her a sense of control.
- 1-2 weeks before: If possible, walk by the school and visit the grounds. Let your child play on the swings and even peek in the windows. This brings the concept of school to life.
- 1 week before: Get out your label-maker or permanent marker. Everything that goes into the classroom should have your child’s name on it, if you’d like to see it again!
- 1 week before: Have your child meet her teacher and visit the classroom. Some teachers will do a home visit too. Or – or in addition – see if you can get the names and numbers of some of the kids in the class so you can set up some playdates.
- 1 day before: Prepare everything in advance – your child’s first-day outfit; any supplies the school asks you to bring, such as an extra change of clothes; your camera! Remind your child that tomorrow is his first day, but again, keep it low key.
- On the first day: Allow plenty of time to arrive at school, and plan to spend some time in the classroom once you get there. Many schools request that you stay in the room for the entire session, at least for the first day. The first day may be a shortened session. It may be 2 to 3 weeks before the class works up to the planned schedule.
- For the first few weeks: Take your time making the transition. Every child will respond differently. If possible, stay in the classroom with your child for as long as he needs you, and work with the teachers to help him adjust.