There’s no need to start preparing your child for preschool months in advance, although it may be tempting to kiasu parents. But in fact, well-meaning as it is, if parents begin talking about preschool and building it up too far in advance, the child may see it as huge event and feel overwhelmed.
Instead, start talking about preschool in a casual, positive manner two to three weeks before class starts. For example, if you pass your child’s school on the way to the playground, you could point it out in an offhand manner and say, “There’s your school. I’ll walk in with you right through that door.” This lets your child know what to expect and gives her something to look forward to.
Get your child accustomed to following a set schedule everyday, if she isn’t already. Set morning and bedtime routines if you’re out at work all day. An early-morning routine could include helping your child make her bed, get dressed, brush teeth, have breakfast, brush teeth and hair, and pack their bags (if they’re attending toddler programmes, or going off to Grandma’s house).
To add closure to the day, you could try bathing, changing into pajamas, reading a book, brushing teeth, discussing the day’s events, singing a song, giving hugs and kisses, and “tucking in”.
You could also create a Good Morning/Goodnight chart for her, with the tasks listed in order and a picture beside each to provide a visual reminder.
Calibrate fine motor skills
Help your child develop his fine motor skills during play by doing fun crafts. To prepare him for future handwriting demands at school, you could have him use modelling clay to form shapes and letters, or hide coins in plasticine and have your child locate them. Alternatively, you could choose a random verb from our printable list: 25 verbs to develop fine motor skills, and create an activity of your own by pairing a noun or two with it.
If you haven’t already, read to your child every day to foster a love for reading, enhance his vocabulary and populate his world with imaginary adventures. You could incorporate it into his bedtime routine, or simply keep reading material on hand – in the living room, his bedroom or the car.
Plan a sneak peek
A week or a few days before school starts, bring him to visit the school ahead of time, even if he had been there previously during the open house. Introduce your child to his teacher, and give him time to observe and explore the classrooms. If it’s not possible to visit while school’s in session, go on a weekend or evening. Tour the campus and explain to him what’s going to happen in each space – like learning in the classrooms, having fun on the playground, or lunch with new friends in the canteen.
Keep an eye out for separation anxiety
It’s perfectly natural if your little one experiences separation anxiety during the first few days or weeks when she bids you farewell at the gate. Be prepared for a few tears, but stay positive so she doesn’t pick up that you’re anxious about leaving her too. On the way over, let her know how her day is going to go so she knows what to expect. When you drop her off, calmly and casually assure her that you’ll be back at the end of the day. Keep it short and sweet – lingering will only make the separation more difficult for both of you. Once she’s adjusted, and has new buddies to play with, goodbyes will be much easier. For her, at least.