Prepping for preschool
Starting preschool is an exciting milestone, but it can be an emotional time for parents and children alike.
While first-day jitters are normal and should be expected, the following preparation strategies can help ease the transition for your child:
• Visit the school with your child prior to the start of school. If possible, arrange for your child to meet the teacher and take a brief tour. Show your child where he will hang his coat, eat his snack, use the bathroom, etc. Spend a few minutes trying out the playground equipment.
• Shop for school supplies together, and allow your child to choose some of the items herself.
• Label your child’s backpack, lunchbox, coat and other preschool items with her name, and show her how she can identify her belongings.
• Prepare your child by reading her some books about preschool. Examples include “Maisy Goes to Preschool,” by Lucy Cousins; “What to Expect at Preschool,” by Heidi Murkoff; “The Night Before Preschool,” by Natasha Wing; and “D.W.’s Guide to Preschool,” by Marc Brown.
• “Practice” going to school by simulating some elements of a typical day: naptime, snack time, story time, show-and-tell.
• Practice doing relevant tasks independently. Teach your child to zip and unzip his backpack, open and close his lunchbox, put on his coat and take it off, fasten his shoes, put toys away, etc.
• If possible, arrange for your child to have a play date or two with a preschool classmate so there will be a familiar face on the first day of school.
• At least two weeks before school starts, begin implementing the bedtime you will be using for school days.
• As the first day approaches, talk to your child about the upcoming routine so he will have an idea of what to expect.
• Pay attention to any concerns your child communicates. She may ask if you might forget to pick her up, if her teacher and classmates will be nice or what will happen if she cannot fall asleep at naptime. Let her know that it is normal to be a little bit scared or worried and that you have experienced those feelings, too. Talk through her concerns with her and reassure her that everything will be OK.
• On the first day of preschool, start the day early enough to avoid being rushed. Gently review the routine, explaining a bit about what the day will involve and who will pick your child up from school.
• When saying goodbye, keep your tone upbeat and avoid a prolonged farewell.
Keep in mind that adjusting to preschool can take some time, especially for children who have not previously attended daycare. If your child seems to be having trouble adapting, be patient. Follow a consistent routine, keep goodbyes loving but brief, ask about the child’s daily activities and show enthusiasm, and communicate any concerns to your child’s teacher.
Types of books for reading aloud
It never is too early to begin reading to children, and by the time they are toddlers and preschool-aged, little ones are especially ready to learn from adults reading to them.
When youngsters are read to, they gain knowledge of letters and words and the relationship between sound and print; learn the meaning of new words; learn about the world in which they live; and are introduced to the pleasure of reading.
It is not uncommon for parents and/or their preschoolers to prefer a particular type of book, but exposing children to different kinds of books will help them develop a variety of important skill sets.
Following are some types of books that are especially good for reading aloud to young children:
• Alphabet books usually feature the uppercase and lowercase forms of each letter and one or more pictures of something that begins with the most common sound the letters represent.
• Counting or number books usually present a number and show a corresponding number of items.
• Concept books are designed to teach particular concepts children need to know in order to succeed in school. They may teach about colors, shapes, sizes, opposites, etc. Some focus on classifying concepts, such as farm or zoo animals, different kinds of trucks, families from around the world, or different places to live.
• Nursery rhyme books often contain rhymes and repeated verses, which is why they are easy to remember and recite and why they appeal to young children.
• Repetitious stories and pattern books are predictable because a word or phrase is repeated throughout the story, forming a pattern. After the first few pages, a child may be able to “read along” because he knows the pattern. That ability allows the child to experience the pleasure of reading.
• Wordless picture books tell stories through pictures alone. They give children the opportunity to become storytellers themselves as they “read,” an activity that most little ones enjoy. In telling their stories, children develop language skills and get a sense of the sequence of events in stories.