How to prepare your child for preschool

8 playful ways to ease the transition.

How to prepare your child for preschool
15 June 2022

Starting preschool is a big milestone for both your child and you. Learning to spend time apart can be a difficult transition, but beginning the formal learning journey is exciting too. Here are eight tips to help make the transition to preschool a smooth one.

1. Visit together

If you are able, plan to go to your child’s new school together before their first day. Play on the playground together and explore the classroom. This way, when they start on day one, school will be a familiar place.

2. Make new friends

If possible, arrange a playdate with children from your child’s class. This will allow them to get to know each other before school starts.

3. Play school together at home

Use pretend play to help your child get used to the idea of preschool. Take turns acting out different routines like story time, singing songs and nap time. You can also switch up the roles and let your child be the teacher. This will help your child think of school as a fun place and reduce anxiety on day one.

4. Turn getting-ready skills into a game

Practice fastening buttons and zippers, putting on a backpack and hanging a coat or jacket on a hook. You could turn putting on shoes into a game – see how fast you can do it!

5. Share your experience

Tell your little one stories about when you first went to school, how you felt and special memories you made. If you can, find preschool photographs of yourself or other trusted adults your child knows and talk about them together.

6. Create a new routine

Start practicing the new bedtime and wake-up time your child will need for preschool several weeks before school actually starts – pick a bedtime that will provide a good night’s rest and a wake-up time early enough so neither of you have to rush in the morning. This will give both of you time to adjust. If you are able, you could even start a new tradition of picking out clothes together the night before school and eating breakfast together in the morning.

7. Listen to your child

Ask your little one about their feelings about going to school and reassure them that it is normal to feel excited, worried or any other emotions. Starting something new can feel scary and big – but it can also be lots of fun! Reassure your child that you will be there to pick them up at the end of the day and talk about what those routines will look like, too.

8. Have a good-bye plan

Saying goodbye can be difficult for both you and your child! When that time comes, try to keep your parting quick and positive – reassure your child that you will see each other again soon. You can even have a special routine that will help comfort your child: sing a song together or do a special handshake.

>For more tips on how to say goodbye, read How to manage your child’s separation anxiety

Article by Mandy Rich, Digital Content Writer, UNICEF