Preparing for preschool

Whether we like it or not, summer is about over. The backpacks are nearly ready, teachers are heading back to their classrooms and summer vacations are ending. If you have a preschool-aged child, I can almost guess that the questions are pouring in, while you fight back the tears. Here are some helpful hints for parents as they begin the transition to preschool:

• Establish a Set Schedule — Following a routine each day which will give your children opportunities for making decisions and acting responsibly. It can help ease your child’s transition to the structure of a preschool setting be an easy one. Routines provide opportunities to learn about order, sequencing, and concepts of time. Children can prepare mentally for the day ahead so that creative learning can occur. This also includes daily chores to feed the dog, pick up toys, getting dressed and more!

• Morning and Bedtime Routines — An early-morning routine can include helping your child make her bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth and hair, and assemble personal items. Visual chart with the tasks listed in order and a picture next to each item to will provide a visual reminder for what is expected of them. Bedtime means sleeping in a dark room alone, which can often stir up nighttime fears. A comforting routine before bedtime can include: bathing, changing into pajamas, reading a book, brushing teeth, saying prayers, discussing the day’s events, singing a song, giving hugs and kisses, and “tucking in.”

• Find teachable moments — Use simple lessons about life to help a child learn about and understand empathy. Point out and ask children questions about changes in the weather, leaves falling or snow on the ground. A lot of that learning will occur naturally.

• Fine tune fine motor skills — Find crafts or activities that you can do at home to strengthen fine motor skills. One of the greatest tools for this is Play-Doh. Have children practice cutting the dough or hide beads inside and have your child find them. You can also teach children how to make the letters from their name out of Play-Doh.

• READ! READ! READ! — Take 15 minutes per day to read to your child or have them read to you. Foster the love of reading early and increase your child’s vocabulary and brain development. The great thing about reading is that it can occur anywhere … at the park, in the kitchen, in the car, or at Grandma’s house!

• Preschool Preview — Take your child to the preschool or school ahead of time so they can observer the surroundings, ask questions, and talk about what will happen when they are there. Let your child explore the playground and have fun.

• Be Strong — Children may experience separation anxiety during the first few weeks. Stay positive so that your child doesn’t pick up on any anxious feelings that you may have. On the drive to school, let your child know what to expect during the day and what fun things they will do.

Is your child ready for preschool?

Determining if your child is ready for preschool can be tough. Most would agree that it depends more on your child’s personality and temperament, that academic abilities. There is no “one-size-fits-all” checklist to determining if your child is ready for preschool, but here is a helpful start in determining preschool readiness.

Emotional Development

• Recognizes other people’s emotions

• Takes turns and can share toys

Attention and Independence

• Listens to simple instructions

• Sits still during story time

• Can separate himself from you for a few hours

• Enjoys doing things herself sometimes, such as getting dressed on her own

Language, Art and Math

• Recognizes some shapes and colors

• Recites the alphabet and recognize some letters

• Expresses thoughts and needs verbally

• Recites his full name

• Counts to five

• Draws with crayons or pencils

There are many qualified preschools in the area. I always encourage you to visit the preschools, visit with teachers and staff, and look for a quality learning environment. Many preschools have income-based tuition scholarships available.

Hoping you have a successful transition to preschool with your child!

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Carrie Kube is a director for Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board. All thoughts and opinions expressed are that of the author and not the board and/or its community partners.