The glorious days of summer are whizzing by too fast, and the start of school is sneaking up on us in a very sneaky way! And while we're all too happy to remain in denial as long as possible about the start of the school year, our little ones probably won't take well to being ripped without warning from their summer pastimes in order to start preschool.
How big of a deal are the first days of preschool? How hard is it for the little ones to transition from playing at home and at the park to playing at school? It all depends on the child, of course, but even the most outgoing, fearless new preschooler can benefit a lot from a bit of preparation before embarking on this first of the many, many years of schooling that lie ahead.
To get your small scholar off to the very best start possible, allow us to suggest a few essential pre-preschool activities....
1. Read and reread books about preschool together. For our finest selection of titles to ease the transition, see here. The pre-preschoolers we know can't get enough of these stories.
2. Talk about school. Keep it light, but do keep the idea that school will soon be starting alive somewhere in your child's consciousness. It's all too easy to forget about during the fun of summer, but the simple awareness that a change is afoot will allow your little one to work on getting ready for it.
3. If possible, visit the school before the first day. If the environment is somewhat familiar, all of the new faces and activities may be a bit easier to take in. One mom we know took pictures of her child in the preschool classroom and made a little album to flip through and talk about over the summer. Very Savvy!
4. Even better, ask the preschool teachers to suggest a couple of other children for playdates before the school year begins. Familiar faces in the class will make the first day so much easier.
5. The little ones process pretty much everything through play, so making up a game is always a good idea. Put all the stuffed animals in circle time for a few songs and a story, herd them over to the table for snack time, release them all out doors for some raucous playtime, and your child will get a pretty good idea of what a day at preschool is all about.
6. On a practical note, preschool teachers are very fond of parents who teach their kids to put on their own jackets -- and we all want to be the teacher's pet from the very beginning, don't we?
7. Finally, parents need to prepare themselves for preschool too! Will you be able to drop your child off on the first day without dissolving into tears thereby contradicting the wonderful reassurances you've been giving your child all summer? A little pre-preschool visualization may help. Even so, remember to bring a hankie.
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