It feels like time has zipped by, and suddenly, you’re already thinking about preschool and how to get your little one ready for this big transition. And, in total honesty, you’re probably also up for a few good tips to get you through it, too.
Preparation can be the key to a smooth transition that everyone is ready for, if not entirely excited about. It can mean the difference between smiles and blowing kisses as your little one skips away and a total meltdown and physically dragging them out of the car. Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but seriously – the following tips will really make this a better experience for everyone.
Long Before Preschool Starts
Weeks, or even months, before preschool starts, you can begin easing your child into the idea of being away from you, your home, and their daycare friends. Start very low-key. Making it into a huge event can give them greater anxiety. Try some of the following tips to see how your child does and see how it feels for you. Your feelings are just as important, and you need prep also.
- Big Kid Moment. Being a big kid is just about the most important thing in your little one’s life. This is the milestone that to them means everything. And preschool is when they typically get to start being a big kid. If you stress how cool it is that they’re almost there and when they get to preschool, they’ve hit that point, and then their enthusiasm will start to grow.
- Open House. Most preschools host an open house so the kids can come, meet their teachers, see where they’re going to be all day, and maybe even meet some other children. Make sure you take advantage of this opportunity. Having this in-person, hands-on experience can relieve a lot of fear of the unknown.
- Play and Pretending. Start introducing preschool play into your child’s pretend time. We love the idea of preschool pretend playdates. Invite a few kids over to pretend preschool, and you can play teacher for an hour or two. The next week, move the playdate to another home and have that parent play teacher. This gets them used to the idea and what they might expect. You also get a peek into how your child might behave.
As Preschool Approaches
A few weeks before preschool begins, you can up the preparation a little and help them to realize it’s not that long now.
- Open Discussions. Don’t make talking about preschool a big event, but bring up the topic when they’re relaxed and having fun. Ask them how they feel about it. Some kiddos will be very excited, and others will have fears or worries. Let them know that their feelings, whatever they are, are normal and try to talk openly about them.
- More Than Words. Preschoolers don’t have all the words for their feelings. Watch for behaviors that can tell you what they’re thinking and feeling.
- Begin Shopping. Shopping for school supplies is much easier when you don’t have the little ones with you, but it’s better for them to be a part of it— at least a part of buying the big stuff. Everyone likes fun new things, and this will build their excitement. They’ll also relive a bit of that feeling when they unpack their backpack at school. See our preschool supplies checklist below to help you get an idea of what they’ll need.
- Label Everything. We can’t stress this enough. Labeling ensures that all of their stuff comes back home at the end of each day. It also gives them a sense of pride and ownership and our Name Bubbles stickers are easy for little hands to apply. Use the School Label Packs to personalize everything from backpacks to notebooks. But it doesn’t stop there. Who knows how they do it, but kids can lose just about anything. Go beyond the school supplies, and label all of their clothing, shoes, lunch containers, and more. Trust us, the first time you see a fellow parent elbow deep in the lost and found box looking for a lost sweater, you’ll be glad you labeled.
- Deal with Your Worries. Take a moment to think about what bothers you about preschool. Do you need to speak with teachers and administration about any special needs or medications your child has? Would you feel comfortable doing a dry run of a drop-off so you know where to go and what the traffic flow is supposed to be like?
- Make a ‘You’ Plan. Don’t forget to tend to yourself. Suddenly your child isn’t there and there are a couple of hours in your day available. Plan to do something on that first day so you can ease your worries and fears. Have coffee with friends, catch up on work, do some shopping, hit the gym – whatever helps you feel productive and a little distracted.
The Night Before Preschool Starts
Anxieties and excitement are running high all around. But sticking to a planned bedtime and a regular routine helps.
- Favorite and Big Meal. You know how a big meal makes you feel sleepy - you can use this to your advantage! Having a favorite meal can distract your child from other things, and a full tummy can help them sleep.
- Any Questions. This is the time to answer any questions they still have, and you can talk about what to expect in the morning.
- Outfit Excitement. If your little one loves clothes, letting them pick out their outfit can create an extra layer of fun.
- Prepare the Backpack. Their backpack is going to be their touchpoint to home, and they’ll rely on it for everything they need. Have them help you pack it to know what they have and feel secure that they’re not missing anything. Don’t forget to let them add a little treasure or soft toy.
The Morning of Preschool
Do what you can to avoid that early morning mass hysteria as everyone is up and running around, trying to get things together and out the door. It’s definitely an easier task for some households than others.
- Early Alarm. Plan on getting up a little earlier than you have to – just in case.
- Take Care of You. Get yourself ready before you get your little ones up. Take a moment for you to acknowledge the feelings you’re having about this big day.
- Eat and Review. Sit down to breakfast and review the day. You can focus on preschool or on picking them up afterward. Whichever aspect seems best for your child.
- Follow Preschool Drop-Off Rules. Typically, the first day or first week is different than the rest of the year. Many preschools invite you to spend a few minutes in the classroom. Take advantage of this and encourage your child to meet new friends and play. When you slip out, do it without a lot of drama or long good-byes. Reassure them that you’ll be there to pick them up at the end of the day. Remember, your tone of voice and attitude tells them a lot, so try to be upbeat.
Preschool Supplies Checklist
Make sure you check in with your child’s school to ensure you’re getting the right supplies and staying within their approved guidelines.
- Extra set of clothes (include underwear and socks)
- Diapers if necessary
- Naptime supplies
- Indoor and outdoor shoes, if required
- Outdoor coat, mittens, scarf, hat etc.
- Indoor sweater or sweatshirt
- School and art supplies, as directed
- Medication (with instructions)
- Hand sanitizer and mask (if needed)
- Comfort item
- Extra labels
Thank you again for joining us for another edition of The Weekly Bubble! If you have any questions about labeling for preschool or anything else on your mind, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
We’ll talk to you next week!