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TIPS FOR PREPARING YOUR TODDLER FOR PRESCHOOL

TIPS FOR PREPARING YOUR TODDLER FOR PRESCHOOL

Here are some top tips to help get your little one prepared for preschool.

Tips for preparing your toddler for preschool

Here are some top tips to help get your little one prepared for preschool. Starting something new can be a daunting prospect, even as adults, change can bring a sense of worry. When you’re a child, it can seem overwhelming. Some children will be ready at the door with their backpack on, eager to start preschool. Others will be worried and anxious. Regardless of how your child is feeling, these are some top tips to help get your little one prepared.

Talk about preschool to your child

Talk about the things your child will do at preschool. You could highlight some games they will play and link the games back to home. You can look at photos of the preschool and talk about some of the things that are different from home, like the toilets and playground.

Follow your child’s lead with talking, so that your child feels comfortable talking about preschool, but doesn’t hear about it too often. If your child doesn’t seem interested when you talk about it, don’t push the conversation.

Keeping things low key can be a good idea too. If you say ‘Isn’t it exciting that you’re starting preschool?’, your child might start to feel more anxious because it sounds like a big deal.

Visit the preschool before your child starts

It’s always a good idea to let you child know what to expect. Visiting the preschool in the lead up to their start will be beneficial for both you and your child. You might even negotiate with the preschool that your child does a couple of short days to get used to their new surroundings. A slow, easy transition can often be a good way to approach this new change. 

Read books about preschool

There are plenty of books out there that can help you explain to your child what preschool is all about and how their day might operate. 

Establish a good routine

Your child will feel safe when they know what to expect each day. Working out a simple daily routine can help them with a smooth transition to preschool. You could set up a routine for preschool mornings – for example, get up, have breakfast, clean teeth, get dressed, put on sunscreen, pack lunchbox and go. You could even make a chart with pictures showing the different steps in your routine.

Develop a routine for saying goodbye

Say goodbye to your child so that he or she knows you’re going, and tell them that you will pick them up at the end of the day. Say goodbye once and leave. Long drawn out goodbyes are difficult for both you and your child and can make a situation more difficult. If you need to, explain to your child that you will read them one book at preschool and then you have to leave. Again, letting them know what to expect makes them feel safe and more confident. They will soon begin to understand the predictableness of what is happening each day. 

Communicate with teachers

Let teachers know what is happening in your child’s life and if there is anything out of the ordinary that they should take into consideration. You should also let the teacher know as much about your child as possible – things like your child’s favourite books or songs, if you have special visitors staying with you, or your child’s favourite sport. 

Let your child see you and their teacher talking warmly, it will give your child confidence that you are working together.    

Share in their excitement

Your child will be that much more enthusiastic to return to preschool if you can share in their excitement and build on what they have learnt throughout the day. Celebrate all the small things with them, it will grow their confidence. 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN SELECTING A PRESCHOOL

Selecting the right preschool for your child is a decision that won’t be taken lightly. When trying to choose the right preschool, you will want to visit a number of centres, look at what they offer, meet the staff and get a feel for the centre generally.

What you should expect from a quality preschool:

  • Valuable play and learning experiences.
  • A consistent and caring relationship between the staff and children.
  • The allowance of time for exploration and new activities for children.
  • Support for social, emotional, physical and cognitive aspects of your child’s development.
  • Clear and reasonable expectations of behaviour.
  • Active involvement with families of the children.
  • Open communication about your child.
  • An environment where you feel welcome.

When you visit a preschool, here are some things to look out for:

  • Adults are talking to children in nurturing and encouraging ways. They get down on their eye-level, address them by name, listen carefully, and seek to understand. Early childhood learning is built on trusting relationships, and that means that good teachers do not yell or roll their eyes at children. Positive relationships can be hard to define, but they are easy to see.
  • When children are behaving inappropriately, teachers are focused on helping them, rather than punishing them. All preschoolers are developing social and emotional skills and self-regulation, like how to share toys and express frustration in words. Good teachers build those skills with consistent routines and tools like timers for turn-taking, language children can use when they have a conflict, and songs and games for when a child needs to be physical.
  • The classroom is fun and joyful. Play is the vehicle through which young children learn everything from vocabulary to math to self-control. That doesn’t mean classrooms should be a free-for-all. Teachers should continually provide new activities and challenges, ask thought-provoking questions, and nudge children to think deeper.
  • Children are active. They are not expected to sit for more than 15-20 minutes at a time, and they get plenty of outdoor time. They are also active contributors to the classroom; they get to choose their activities and their work covers the walls.
  • Staff are supported — and seem happy. Working with young children is a tough job, and teachers are more successful when they receive regular professional development and planning time, not to mention a livable wage and benefits like health insurance and paid time off. Don’t be afraid to ask the director about these factors and about rates of teacher turnover.

Asking questions at the preschool is the best way to get information. We suggest asking the following:

  1. How are parents kept up to date with what’s going on at the centre?
  2. Is family participation welcomed in weekly activities?
  3. What are the philosophies and values of the centre and its staff members?
  4. What are the fees?
  5. Are extended hours of care available?
  6. How will food and drink be provided?
  7. How will medication be handled and administered?
  8. Are you allowed to visit at any time?
  9. What is the ratio of qualified staff to children?
  10. What policies and standards does the centre operate to?

In addition to the questions above, ask yourself these questions as you tour the centre:

  1. Does the environment look inviting?
  2. Do the staff seem professional?
  3. Are staff vigilantly looking after the children in their care?
  4. What are the other children like?
  5. Does it smell nice?
  6. Is it a place you would come back to?
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN SELECTING A PRESCHOOL
WHY SEND MY CHILD TO PRESCHOOL?

WHY SEND MY CHILD TO PRESCHOOL?

Some parents are not sure about sending their child to preschool prior to starting kindergarten. This is a very personal choice. If you’re not sure, have a read of the information below, we hope this might help you with your decision.

According to the Raising Children Network, preschool helps children:

  • get new knowledge and skills – for example, they start learning more about numbers, letters and words
  • improve their communication and social skills through playing and interacting with other children and adults
  • make new friends and develop new relationships with adults
  • develop physical skills – for example, children learn to balance on play equipment and practise fine motor skills like drawing with a pencil and cutting with scissors
  • develop problem-solving and creative thinking skills
  • develop responsibility, independence, confidence and self-worth through doing things like looking after their own belongings and spending time away from home
  • get ready for the transition to school.

Preschool is all about learning through open-ended play and structured play activities that allow children to develop at their own pace. Whether your child is finger painting, building a block castle, or singing with other kids, preschool helps your child increase her experiences, abilities and knowledge.

Preschool programs offer both indoor and outdoor learning experiences, as well as opportunities for solo and group play.

According to pregnancybirthbaby.org.au, “Research has shown that 2 years of preschool helps children to be better prepared for school, with better literacy, emotional and social skills. Sending children to preschool early may be especially important for children who need extra support – for example, if their first language isn’t English, or if they come from a disadvantaged background.

Preschool helps with young children’s overall development. It teaches them new skills that will help them learn to read, write and do mathematics. They develop better communication and social skills, such as how to play with other children, work as a group and speak to adults.

Children who go to preschool can deal better with the transition to school because they are more responsible, independent and confident.

Research also shows that children who go to preschool benefit throughout their education, even when they are at secondary school.