Inside: the benefits of preschool education as well as 13 ideas to prepare your toddler for preschool
Is your toddler starting preschool this year?
If so, today I want to share 13 tips on to prepare your toddler for preschool.
These tips worked great for my son who started preschool two years ago. I hope they work for your soon-to-be-preschooler too!
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Why I started my son in preschool at age two
First things first, I wanted to share my reasoning behind starting Lennox in preschool, and then I want briefly mention the benefits preschool has on children. Lastly, I would like to offer some great tips to help you prepare your tot for preschool. Here goes.
First and foremost, I want Lennox to learn social skills. We are both extroverts; hence, we are always out and about on the town and meeting with friends.
However, Lennox has been showing patterns of aggressiveness towards other (especially younger) children from an early age. I don’t plan on popping out a sibling in the near future, so I wanted to give Lennox the opportunity to have structured socialization with other kids his age.
Secondly, a good friend of mine introduced me to her son’s preschool, which is a cooperative— a school established and directed by parents. Not only do coops come with an economic advantage ( more affordable since the school does not have to pay as much staff) but I also get to be extremely involved in Lennox’s preschool experience.
Lastly, we don’t have much help with Lennox, and this entrepreneurial mama needs a little extra time to get a lot more done to be successful.
What are the benefits of preschool?
Greatschools.org has a comprehensive list of reasons why preschool is beneficial for toddlers. Amongst those, some of the ones that stuck out to me were:
- Preschool is an opportunity for growth
- Preschool prepares children for kindergarten
- Preschool promotes social and emotional development
- The preschool environment is structured, although it may not appear that way
- Children get to make choices
- Children learn to take care of themselves and others
- Preschool teachers nurture a child’s curiosity
- Preschool promotes language and cognitive skills
- Preschool activities boost pre-math and literacy skills
- Preschool helps develop motor skills
It all sounds like a win, win to me. I think Lennox will thrive in preschool and I am so excited for him. The only thing that makes me sad is he will now start learning English. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited for him to learn English, but I have worked so hard since his birth to only speak to him in Spanish, I am hoping he doesn’t lose it.
13 tips to prepare your toddler for their first year of preschool.
1. Prepare your child’s skills ahead of time right from your own home.
One of the most vital skills your toddler will learn in preschool is fine motor control.
“Fine motor skills involves the use of the smaller muscle of the hands, commonly in activities like using pencils, scissors, construction with lego or duplo, doing up buttons and opening lunch boxes.
Fine motor skill efficiency significantly influences the quality of the task outcome as well as the speed of task performance. Efficient fine motor skills require a number of independent skills to work together to appropriately manipulate the object or perform the task.”Source: Kid Sense
Start implementing daily activities into your day that can help your toddler work his fine motor skills. Some ideas are:
- Open and closing containers
- Using child-safe scissors
- Painting, drawing, scribbling, coloring
Practicing activities like this ahead of time will give them a jump start for structured preschool activities.
Related: 5 Sensory and Fine Motor Fall Crafts for Toddlers
Along with fine motor skills, preschool will work on gross motor skills which develops the larger, stronger muscle groups of the body. Here is a list of some gross motor activities:
- play outside
- kick a ball
- throw a ball
- use ride-on toys
Take your child outside to explore. Some activities we did this spring and summer to improve Lennox’s gross motor skills were: gardening, fishing, swimming, playing outdoors, sports, jumping on a trampoline, hiking, among others.
Here is a list of open-ended toys to prepare your toddler for preschool.
2. Read to your toddler.
Read, read, read. That is all I can say. Read in a funny voice. Talk about the pictures. Sing to the words. Do anything you can to get your child in the zone, and focused on listening.
Also, read books that introduce preschool and what it will be like so he can start understanding the significant change that is about to happen. I recently bought Lennox this book, and I have been trying to read It at least once a week for the past month now.
Here are some great books to prepare your child for preschool:
- The Night Before Preschool
- Preschool, Here I Come!
- Pete the Kitty’s First Day of Preschool
- Maisy Goes to Preschool
Related: Picture Books in Spanish for Kids
3. Talk to your child about preschool and what may come.
Talking is key for listening and communication skills.
Talk to your toddler with a normal voice. Get on eye-level with him and communicate with him. Even though he is little, and may not seem like he is comprehending everything, he is processing your every word.
Conversing with, and listening to your toddler will engender empowerment and confidence, which will result in self-assurance in preschool.
Talk to your child about preschool, about snack time, about sharing, about drop off, about pick up. Talk, talk, talk.
Take him to the store and let him pick out his own materials after you have talked about preschool. We went with Lennox to the Disney store and found the most adorable backpack and sippy cup. We both are slightly obsessed, and Lennox takes his backpack everywhere.
4. Visit the school with your toddler.
This is a must. Take your toddler to the school so he can feel he can get to know the environment before his first day of school.
5. Get to know the teachers.
Introduce your child to their teacher, whether it be at the school, or out at a gathering before the school year starts.
One thing I love about Lennox’s preschool is that his teacher makes in-home visits. Her visit was such a beautiful experience. She brought over a box of toys and sat on the floor with Lennox for one hour. For one hour he got to look at her face, play with some of the school’s toys, and get to know his teacher.
Her visit only made me feel all the more confident in this school year. Lennox absolutely loved her, and she was tickled with Lennox.
6. Make a family poster board.
This is another idea that Lennox’s preschool teacher does in the classroom. She asks every family member to make a poster with pictures of the child, their family member and friends.
She laminates and whenever a child feels sad or simply wants to see his poster board, she takes out the board and lets the child talk about his family. I absolutely adored the idea, and my crafty-self couldn’t wait to make it. Check it out below.
The process of making the poster board was a great learning experience for Lennox also because we went through pictures a named family members. Then, we selected some pictures and practiced his scissor skills to cut out some of his favorite pictures.
7. Visit the library
8. Learning on the go
Toddlers are learning so quickly.
As adults, we can get caught up in our busy lives and forget about little pockets of time that we can take advantage of to educate our little learners.
Take, for example, in the car. Sometimes I find myself zoning out, or jamming to music, only to stop in my tracks and realize that I have little ears in the back. Little ears who instead of learning mom’s music, could be talking and learning new things.
As of recently, I have turned off the radio, and instead, I now talk about things we see, or we practice pronunciation of different words.
9. Establish a consistent routine
Consistency is key here. Toddlers thrive off of consistency and routine, and preschool is going to teach them just that. If you haven’t started yet, get your toddler into a daily routine, especially a bedtime routine.
Summer was hectic for us, and we definitely went haywire with our regular schedule. Due to this, Lennox’s sleep was a mess.
For a month he was waking up several times a night, sleeping in bed with us, and was ultimately a crank pot. The past two weeks, I have him back on his strict schedule, and he is like a whole new boy.
Having a consistent routine will cause your child to get better sleep, have a more productive wake time, and feel less anxious about school because he will be familiar with his routine.
Related: 5 Tips to help your sensitive-sleeper sleep better
10. Encourage independence and self-help skills
Invite your child to take part in all of the daily happenings- cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, doing laundry.
You will be surprised how much they will enjoy helping you, even though you might find it as a hindrance.
These independent activities will also help their gross and fine motor, while at the same time encourage independence.
11. Have play dates
Play dates are essential for introducing your child to new people and personalities.
Since the parents help run the program at Lennox’s school, we are in constant communication with each other. This allowed us to schedule multiple playdates throughout the summer. This way, all of the student’s in his two-year-old class will all be familiar with each other once the school year starts.
12. Leave your child with a family member or sitter.
If your child is not used to being away from you, now is the perfect time to try out a sitter, or a family member so he can start feeling comfortable being away from you for periods of time.
13. Let loose mama, and let your toddler explore.
Free, unstructured play is an absolute necessity for your child to learn and imagine. As adults, our busy lives come with a lot of rules and regulations, but a child needs space and freedom to create.
” Children need to explore without limitations adults sometimes place around activities. Whenever you can, keep your hands behind your back, resist the temptation to direct every single activity, and let them develop.”Source: Lourdes Dumke M.Ed in Early Childhood Education
Related: 21 Loose Parts Outdoor Activities To Do With Your Kiddos Today!
We hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to comment below with any other suggestions or tips! Wish us luck in our preschool endeavor, and good luck in yours!
Tuesday 3rd of September 2019
I think preschool is so important, mostly for kids to learn how to behave and coexist with peers. All kids will learn academics at one point or another but so many lack the necessary social skills to coexist with friends!
Thursday 29th of August 2019
These are great tips! Visiting the school is so important for them to have a comfortable start.
Wednesday 21st of August 2019
As an Early Childhood Educator, I understand the importance of the early years. These are such great tips for readying your child for prescho!
Tuesday 27th of August 2019
Thank you. I think Lennox is definitely prepared after all of our preparations and in-home activities.
Katie @ Teacher and the Tots
Wednesday 21st of August 2019
Great tips! I’ll definitely be referring to this before my oldest goes to preschool next year. I liked your fine motor tips!
Tuesday 27th of August 2019
Thank you. Definitely put them to use as soon as you can to prep him for preschool! It's a big time for them.
Sunday 18th of August 2019
Gosh, I've seen so many posts about back to school and make me so excited for my little. She is only 2 now, but I know these tips will come in handy when she starts preschool.
Tuesday 27th of August 2019
Yes they will. It's a good idea to get a jumpstart, becuase preschool is such a big change from the tots.