As the schools and preschools slowly open their doors, we as parents have a mixed bag of emotions, questions, and what-nots.
One such question is: “Is my child ready?”
Some children may have been to preschool before the COVID pandemic, while some may have never attended preschool!
Nevertheless, their experience of schooling or learning has been home-based, isn’t it?
So, how can we prepare them best for the preschool and transition into a physical classroom?
Let’s find out!
Your child’s back-to-school concerns
When we speak of going to or going back to preschool, they will be a general joy for the child. But then, they will have a lot of questions or natural worries.
Change is difficult for children. Considering they have been used to being at home for a long period, transitioning to every day or part-time schooling can be a complex experience.
Spot your child’s signs
Since children may not have the necessary vocabulary to express their anxiety or question, you can keep a tab of any physical or emotional signs. Eg: Temper tantrums, clinginess, physical discomfort, disturbed sleep, etc.
Each child will display different signs. So, be attuned to your child’s temperament and behaviour.
Listen to their worries
Observe how your child speaks about preschool. Do they sound worried or is there something bothering them.
Allow them to express. Tell them that this is a safe space and you will address their queries.
Their worries can be about waking up early; a change in routine; interacting with their peers or teachers; separation from you; COVID itself; etc.
Once you know what worries your child, you are better equipped to help them get ready for preschool.
More importantly, keeping calm matters!
9 ways to prepare your kids back to schools
1) Handling Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety for yourself and your child is something that can go both ways. The reason why we need to handle the anxiety for ourselves first is that we are more stressed about the child stepping out of the home.
They may know nothing about what’s about to happen and anxiety is passed on through parents. Stepping away from your child can be anxious, so understand how you are verbalising it.
If your child shows signs of clinging to you, address their worries by slowly speaking about how their preschool is.
In the initial days of preschool, check if the preschool allows you to help transition your child into a classroom set-up.
Assure your child that you will drop them at and pick them up from preschool. Learning to express feelings positively helps them develop the skills they need to manage them effectively.
2) Establish a routine
One of the essential ways to ease your child is to create a routine, which will gel with their foray into preschool/school.
Eg: Waking up at a particular time, having breakfast together, packing getting ready for preschool, saying bye to parents, saying hello to the new teacher, going to bed on time, etc.
This will give them better clarity on what to expect and what is expected of them.
Include aspects of washing hands, wearing masks, etc as part of their routine as they are essential to avoid any flu or COVID infections.
3) Practise independent tasks
When your little one is at the preschool without you, they need to be able to do a few things independently.
So, help them practise their independence. Guide them in doing the following things before preschool starts.
- Opening the lunchbox and water bottle
- Learning their full name and phone number
- Keeping things to their proper places
- Cleaning up the mess
- Wearing masks and maintaining physical distance
- Washing their hands
PS: Don’t forget to praise your child’s efforts and successes.
4) Preschool talk
Help your toddler understand preschool by giving them an idea of what the preschool will be like, what they will be doing, what a normal day would look like, etc.
Eg: “I will be dropping you at that colourful building out there. When you go inside, you can make many friends and have a lot of fun. When the preschool is over, I’ll come back and pick you up!”; etc.
If your child has more questions, answer them. Yes, children are curious about a new place and so, speaking about preschool as nurturing space helps.
5) Enact the preschool days
Wouldn’t pretend play be a wonderful way to ease your child’s preschool worries?
Pretend that you are going to preschool and sitting with a bunch of friends for group time. Play games, read stories, and do activities like they would in the preschool!
Meeting and interacting with new people, particularly in a formal set-up like preschool, are some social situations young children need to be aware of.
Help your child explore and learn their social cues such as wishing good morning to their teacher, waving to their peers, etc.
Especially it becomes easy to teach kids to follow safety protocols such as social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks, etc.
6) Reading books
Children love to read or listen to stories. So, let’s make use of this to ease your child into preschool.
Also, reading to them from early years forms the basis for their language development.
Here are a few recommendations:
- My First Day at Nursery School by Becky Edwards
- Maisy Goes to Preschool by Lucy Cousins
- What to Expect at Preschool by Heidi Murkoff
- Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman
- The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing
- Preschool Day Hooray! by Linda Leopold Strauss
- It’s Time For Preschool by Esme Raji Codell
- I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas
- My Teacher’s My Friend by P K Hallinan
7) Enhance communication
In preschool, verbal and non-verbal communication can enable the child to express their needs to their teacher.
You can provide different scenarios for your child where they need to communicate with their teacher, just like they do with anyone else at home.
One way to encourage your child’s communication is by making them ask for what they need before you give it to them. This will encourage them to be more communicative.
This enables them to be aware of their body boundaries too.
8) Art time
Nothing can beat art to help ease a child’s worry about preschool or being back to school.
Including it as an important part of your little one’s routine can have a huge impact on their overall growth.
Not only will it prepare your child for academic success, but it will also develop their fine and gross motor skills.
It offers your child the opportunity to express themselves creatively.
9) Preschool visit
Visit your child’s classroom and meet the teachers and staff a few days before preschool begins.
Show your child where they will keep their bag and other personal things. This will boost your child’s confidence in this new setting.
Also, this allows you to understand the COVID guidelines in place at the preschool as well!
As early as September 2020, WHO had provided guidelines to re-opening schools and preschools across the world.
Here is a quick checklist:
i) Awareness among the staff and educators about the hygiene protocols
ii) Number of children in a classroom & proximity
iii) Social distancing and other cleanliness practices
iv) Parent-teacher discussions about COVID safety guidelines
v) Communication provided by the preschool and its attitude
vi) In case of a COVID infection, what is the school’s policy
Please Note: Wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and washing hands are simple ways to keep infections at bay.
To Conclude: Preschool time = fun learning time
Whether your child is stepping into the preschool for the first time or is going back to school after a long time, keep calm and address their concerns.
Yes, even the tiniest of worries addressed can help build confidence to enter a space of learning and growth.
Each child’s transitioning to school set-up is different and there could be discomfort and tantrums from their end.
PS: If the COVID situation still worries you, you can always choose alternate preschool programs such as Flintoclass@HOME for safe learning from the comfort of home.
Wondering what comes inside the Flintoclass@HOME box? Watch this video to find out!
Have we missed out on any ways to prepare kids for preschool? Tell us how you prepared your child up for preschool.