Four thoughtful ways to prep kids for preschool

Shauna Mann

Posted on September 01 2018

Off-to-school for the first time is a milestone that is worth preparing for. All children are different and need differing support. My son skipped off happily with a backpack as large as him to his first day. My daughter was still getting teary-eyed on the last week of school at drop-off. So there is no magical prep tool that ensures a successful start to the school year, but here are four thoughtful ideas that should help all types of kids.

Practice self-reliance skills

In a classroom full of preschoolers, the kids are expected to have a few skills that you can practice before school starts. Listening to books and circle time has been included in every preschool program we have been a part of. Attend library story times over the summer, read nightly, and even practicing sitting crisscross on the floor. This will assist in developing listening and attending skills critical for group preschool times. Help your child learn how to take on and off coats and shoes.  Allow them to wash their hands by themselves; teach them how to get enough soap, scrub, and rinse thoroughly. Although practicing these skills may tax your patience and make you late out the door, your preschool teachers will really appreciate your child’s self-sufficiency.

Reflect and encourage

Take sincere interest in your child’s stories of the day and projects that come home. Thoughtful observations and creative compliments can go far to build your child’s self-esteem and confidence. Feeling capable helps them navigate their new school environment. Focus on how they did something rather then innate ability. Instead of “you are really good at coloring” try “I can tell you used a lot of concentration to create your drawing” or “Your color choices are beautiful.” The focus on their actions will help set the groundwork for more difficult tasks and skill development that requite effort.

Prepare for the separation

Whether your child bounds off to school or clings to your leg, it is important for them to know that you are thinking of them throughout the day. Put a small family picture in their pocket to take with them. Draw cute pictures and put it in with their snack or lunch. Talk about the schedule and assure them of who is picking them up and when they will see you again. My daughter had a very difficult time leaving me throughout her toddler years. When prepping for preschool, we went to a favorite local gift store and together we picked out a necklace that I would wear (I didn’t feel comfortable with her wearing a necklace at such a young age). Every morning at drop-off she would put a kiss into my necklace and I would say while placing it inside my shirt “I will carry this close to my heart and think about you all day long.”


Make school supply shopping and backpack purchasing an exciting event that they are included in. While throwing Band-Aids in the cart, talk about how there will be helpers when they get hurt. Look at all the art supplies and brainstorm what they might create in school. Praise and honor their accomplishments, especially the first week of school. Celebrate with an after school trip to a local ice cream shop or special trip to a favorite park.  Enjoy this time and their first years of school together.

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