There are so many fun things about starting preschool. The cute, little backpacks and the special first day outfits. All so sweet! But let’s go beyond the shiny new shoes and haircuts. What else should mothers of first-time preschoolers know? One of the reasons I love this platform is to encourage other mothers who are a few steps behind me on this motherhood journey and share the tips and wisdom I’ve gleaned from friends along the way, as well as my own mother and grandmother. First I am sharing 10 tips for starting preschool and then 10 great tips from DoSayGive readers!
1. Before school even begins, help the teacher out by having your child practice opening and closing his backpack, lunchbox, and snack containers. Also, if he has a new belt that needs practice then make sure to do that before the first day!
2. After a busy time at preschool, children are usually starving when you pick them up. Have lunch or a snack ready for them to eat when they get in the car. (Some moms will give children a snack before drop off as well, especially if they are early risers and preschool doesn’t start until 9.)
3. If possible, try to pick them up from school. I know this isn’t possible in all cases, but this stage is so short and they are SO eager to see you after their day. Even if you can’t do it every day, it will make their day when you can!
4. But on that note, don’t ask a bunch of questions right when they get in the car! They may want your presence but not necessarily the inquisition. Give them some space (and maybe lunch!) before you ask about their day.
5. Make sure children get plenty of rest with an early bedtime and a rest time after preschool. My girls always had nap time after their half day preschool. If they didn’t sleep at least they had quiet time to think and rest. Down time helps cut down on meltdowns and other behavior issues at home and at school.
6. Ballet classes, soccer teams, music classes – there are SO many fun things for preschoolers to do on top of preschool. But avoid our culture’s tendency to over schedule your little ones. Not only do they need rest but they also need free time to just PLAY. Let them be little, not mini adults with google calendars. What I’ve heard from moms of star athletes is that if your child is meant to be a professional baseball player it’s not going to matter if they played little league at three or four years old.
7. Know your season when it comes to volunteering. Don’t get me wrong, volunteering is a way to get connected and meet friends in a new city. But if you are pregnant, have other little ones at home or work full-time, it’s probably not the season to chair the black tie fundraiser or run the PTA. Leave the bigger jobs to moms whose youngest is in preschool or who perhaps have full-time help. Get involved in ways that are realistic and not adding stress to your already full season. If you need help saying no graciously, read this post.
8. On that note, if you are going to sign up to volunteer in small ways, consider signing up for some things in which your child will see you. Reading to the class or helping with the Christmas party. They love seeing their mamas!
9. Even though they call it “school” it is not really *school.* Hear me out. Starting in kindergarten, your child will have 16+ years of math facts, flash cards, homework, and tests. Don’t bring on those things before it’s really necessary and don’t panic if your child isn’t doing something his or her classmate is doing (reading, counting, etc.). Children develop at different ages and stages and those things will come in due time! If a mom tells you she is getting their child a tutor to help prepare for kindergarten, say “that’s great” and go to the park or the museum. Because children learn in so many ways beyond a phonics workbook you get in the dollar aisle at Target. Remember, preschool helps to develop skills to prepare children for learning. Things like gross and fine motor skills, transitions, good listening, socialization with peers, etc. He may not be reading or writing when he is four but he’s learning many other things that will help him when he is developmentally ready!
10. Read, read, read! Of course I have to follow up that last thought with this! Reading aloud to children is one of the best indicators of long-term educational success. Not only does it provide great conversation starters and bonding but the language we read seeps into their brains and helps them when they start to read. If you want to grab some of our favorite books for fall click here.
I hope that was helpful! And here are 10 more tips for starting preschool that DoSayGive readers kindly submitted:
- Buy pants that have elastic and no buttons for easy bathroom breaks.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions to the teacher, admin, etc.
- Set up an organization system at home to preserve keepsakes.
- Don’t worry about preparing them for nap time. Teachers are pros at getting them to sleep.
- Schedule something fun for yourself to do on the first day of school so you don’t worry.
- Transitions are hard, children will cry when you leave and be happy a moment later.
- Make the drop off quick – say goodbye, give a hug, and leave.
- It might seem like a lot at first but your child will change so much during the year!
- Put their name instead of monogram on backpack and lunchbox.
- Have child carry their backpack and/or lunchbox to gain independence.
Good luck with preschool! What tips do you have for starting preschool?