Whether your little one’s already in childcare or not, starting kindergarten / preschool is a big deal. It can mean different rooms, new teachers and activities or possibly even a new centre if they’ve had to move.
As a key time to make friends, develop skills and learn what to expect from big school, you want their experience to be fun and beneficial. Here’s how to make sure they get off to a great start.
1. Discuss it in advance
Children respond better to change if they’re made aware of them first and know what to expect. In the lead-up, talk about the shift into preschool or kindergarten in a positive way and describe the new kinds of fun activities they’ll be doing in detail. Given young children are visual learners, you can even draw pictures together or storyboard a sequence of what will happen.
This will give them plenty of notice, let them ask questions and put any fears to rest. At the same time, be careful not to go too over-the-top about the switch – you want them prepped, but not over-hyped or anxious.
2. Get familiar with the new surrounds
It’s an obvious step but an essential one. Most preschools and kindergartens have orientation days where you can have a look around, meet the educators and get familiar with the space. If they don’t, ask the centre manager for a personal tour.
It’s a great idea even if your child is just moving up to a new room, as it will make everything more familiar and less stressful on their first day.
3. Get your child involved
Rather than you doing everything, encourage your little one to take part in the preparations too. They could ask their teachers some questions at orientation, pick out clothes to wear or help you choose for a new water bottle or backpack for their first day.
They’re all great ways to get them invested in this new adventure, plus it helps you too.
Read more about preschool/kindergarten:
- 7 surprising things your child will learn at preschool
- Preschooler bucket list! 23 things to do with your kids before big school
- Dear Mummy, this is how I really feel after a long day at preschool
4. Organise playdates
If children already have friends or at least know familiar faces at their preschool / kindergarten, this will make their transition a lot easier.
If your child’s new and you don’t know anyone, try and meet other children and parents at the orientation days and arrange a playdate. You could always reach out to the centre too who might help connect you with other families.
5. Keep other routines consistent
While your child adapts to their new kindergarten / preschool life, it’s important to keep the rest of their routines stable so you don’t overload them. Try to keep drop-off / pick-up times the same as before, and delay starting new after-school sports or activities until they’re settled in.
6. Be prepped to minimise stress
Mornings in particular can be quite tricky for getting everyone out the door, but you don’t want your child to feel upset or flustered if you’re running late. So get everything they might need for kindergarten / preschool in advance and then you’re all prepared.
It’s also a good idea to establish a routine at home too (e.g. brushing their own teeth and getting dressed) to help create less chaos and let them know what to expect each day.
7. Pack a security item
If your child’s feeling sad or anxious about going, consider sending along a special item to comfort them. It could be their favourite toy, a blanket or family photo – just something to soothe those nerves and make them smile.
8. Don’t linger at drop-off
We know kindergarten / preschool is a big deal for children and therefore parents can be quite emotional and nervous about how their child is going to go. However, it can actually be more distressing for them if you hang around at the centre.
Once you’ve located their teacher or taken them to their room, simply give them a big hug and kiss, tell them to have fun and then be on your way. If you keep it casual, the vibe will translate to them and before you know it being a ‘big girl/boy’ won’t be so scary after all.
This post was sponsored by Goodstart Early Learning Centres. To find out more, book a tour at your local Goodstart centre or call 1800 222 543.
How did your child go with starting kindergarten/preschool? Share your tips and experiences with us on Facebook!