Getting ready for pre-school


Friday, August 16th, 2013

There’s nothing quite like your child’s first introduction to the educational world. It’s an emotional time for all concerned ג€“ she may be nervous, reluctant to leave you and uncertain what to expect, and hey, you probably feel much the same! Here are a few tips to help ease the transition for both of you.

Get into the mind-set:

Your little one will be much better prepared for the temporary upheaval of joining pre-school if you talk to her about it often, ahead of time. There are plenty of lovely storybooks and activity/sticker books on the topic of ג€˜getting ready for school’, which are designed to introduce children to the general process in a non-threatening, simplistic way. Try Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg or Going To Nursery by Catherine and Laurence Anholt.

Familiarise your child with the pre-school routine, teaching her what to expect from having her own coat hook and shoe box to registration, carpet time to free play and so on. Many children respond well to role-playing games in which you can take it in turns to be the ג€˜teacher’ and the ג€˜pupil’ in your pretend classroom. Help your child learn to recognise her name, and even practice writing it if she’s able.

Also it’s really important for her to begin properly socialising, so that she gets used to meeting and playing with different children, and sharing toys fairly. This is best handled by attending a local playgroup, and if at all possible find her a little friend or two who’ll be attending the same pre-school and develop those relationships further.

If your child will be staying for lunch, get her used to washing her hands before eating, then literally show her how it works ג€“ let her practice using her water bottle and lunchbox at home, and teach her always to eat her savoury food before the sweet stuff.

Carefully consider which sessions you book:

If your child still has regular naptimes, it makes sense to take this into consideration when you arrange timings with your pre-school. So if she’s used to an afternoon nap, don’t book an afternoon session.

Also if your child is shy or clingy, speak to the staff members. Often certain sessions (such as afternoons) are quieter, so timid children might be better suited to those. Feel free to build up your child’s stamina with less sessions leading to more later, and consider the weekly schedule as a whole ג€“ Mondays and Fridays might not work well initially as you’re potentially leaving too big a gap in between attendance.

Label EVERYTHING:

We simply can’t stress this enough. Young children aren’t always able to recognise their own belongings, and even if they do, they have scant regard for keeping an eye on them in the hustle and bustle of the pre-school day. Invest in some inexpensive name labels (either dishwasher-safe tape stickers or the traditional fabric tabs are suitable), and a laundry pen, which is a great way to name clothes quickly and indelibly.

Don’t forget to clearly label their bag too. And while we’re on the subject, make sure to pack at least one change of clothes, nappies if your child is wearing them, and a plastic bag for safely stowing wet clothes away (this is just as handy for the aftermath of water-based games as it is for little accidents!).

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