Preparing your child for nursery school can be difficult, but it does not have to be overwhelming. You can assist your child in preparing. However, you should be aware that every child develops at their own pace, and it is critical to recognise and honour your child’s readiness rather than pushing your agenda unreasonably. Potty training is a good place to start when preparing your child for school.
Part 1 Preparing Your Child Physically
1. Start working on potty training. Some schools expect your child to be at least partially potty trained, particularly if he or she is four or older. If your child is young, he or she may not need to be completely potty trained, but you and your child should work on it together.
Wait for your child to be ready with patience. Before you begin, your child should show an interest in the toilet and underwear. This is usually around the age of two or two and a half. Your child should also be able to follow instructions and stay dry for at least two hours at a time. Make sure your child can communicate and wants to be clean and dry to increase his or her chances of success. Coming to you when he or she requires a change is an excellent readiness skill. Your child should also understand the concepts of up and down, clean and dirty, and wet and dry. They should be familiar with the names of their body parts as well as the potty terminology used in your home, such as pee and poop.
Purchase tools to assist you in potty training. Without any modifications, it is difficult for your child to use a regular-sized toilet. You can either buy a small toilet for your child or invest in a smaller child-sized toilet seat that fits over your regular one. You may also want to get a stool for your child to use when reaching the toilet or washing their hands after using the toilet.
You could also try wearing underwear or training pants instead. Many preschools will appreciate it if your child wears disposable training pants because they are easy to clean up after accidents and the child can pull them up and down to make using the toilet easier. In fact, allowing your child to choose his or her own underwear or training pants can help get your child excited about the process. It’s also critical to have clothes that your child can easily remove.
2. Establish a bathroom break schedule. Take frequent bathroom breaks throughout the day. Allow your child to sit on the potty without a diaper during these breaks. Both boys and girls should sit down at first, even though boys will eventually stand up and pee in a urinal.
Try having them go to the toilet about 30 minutes after eating. You should also encourage your child to take a break when they appear to be in need of one. They may wiggle or grab at their crotch area, for example.
As soon as you notice the signs, take your child to the bathroom. If they end up using the toilet, make sure to show your excitement so they get the idea. For some children, flushing the toilet can be a fun reward.
Rewards can also be beneficial. You can use any incentive that your child enjoys, such as stickers or reading time with a parent or sibling. Give your child a treat every time they use the toilet.
3. Dressing skills should be practised. Of course, your child’s teacher will assist your child when he or she needs a zipper tied or shoes tied, but the teacher only has so much time. The more your child is able to do on their own, the better. Make learning how to dress into a game. For example, you could time your child’s ability to dress and tie their shoes, then see if they can beat their time. Remember to express your delight in their accomplishments.
Inquire with your child’s teacher about the type of shoes they prefer the children to wear, and teach your child how to put on and take off shoes on their own.
Allow your child to practise tying shoes with a string attached to a board.
Show older children how to independently lower and raise their pants, waistbands, or zippers when using the restroom.
You can also find toys that teach your child how to use buttons, zippers, and Velcro.
Most children aged three and up can be taught to put on their own coat. Try laying the jacket flat in front of the child and facing them away. Allow them to put their hands in the sleeves of the jacket and flip it over their heads.
4. Work on one nap at a time. The majority of preschoolers only take one afternoon nap. The kids spend the rest of the day engaged in activities. Inquire with the school about nap times so you can adjust your child’s schedule accordingly. If your child still takes two naps, try keeping them awake in the morning and then allowing them to sleep more in the afternoon.
Try to keep your child engaged and active in the morning. Play outside or choose a physical activity rather than a quieter activity such as watching a movie. They won’t want to sleep in the morning, and they’ll be exhausted by the afternoon.
Inquire with the school about the napping arrangements for the students (like a cot, a mat, or in a crib). Allow your child to nap on a similar surface at home.
Inquire with the school about what items are permitted during nap time. Some schools may prohibit children from having comfort items such as a pacifier, stuffed animal, or lovey.
5. Practice eating on your own. Your nursery school will most likely encourage self-feeding for lunch, breakfast, and snacks. In the weeks leading up to your child’s first day of school, ask your child’s nursery school when meals are served and try your hardest to replicate these mealtimes in your home so their body adjusts to expecting meals at these times.
During mealtime, have your child practise feeding themselves. Younger children may eat with their fingers. Children aged three and four should eat with spoons or forks. You should also practise using a cup with your child.
At home, practise “family style dining.” On a family table, food is served in large bowls and drinks are served in pitchers. Invite your child to use ladles to serve themselves food and to pour their drink from a pitcher into their cup. Nursery schools frequently work with your child to teach them to eat “family style.”
Children will be expected to assist with mealtime cleanup at school. Allow your child to clean their plates independently by providing a child-size trash can in which they can discard any excess food. Inquire with your child’s nursery school whether they will be using paper plates and cups or if they should bring their own. Teach your child that paper plates and cups are discarded and that their plates and cups are washed in the sink for reuse at home.
Part 2 Working on Appropriate Skills
1. Encourage your children’s independence. When your child starts nursery school, he or she should be able to play for at least a short period of time alone or with other children. Because preschool consists of some independent play with a large group of kids, they don’t need to be constantly told what to do by an adult.
Encourage your child to play independently as he or she approaches nursery school age, around 3 or 4 years old.
Ask your child what they want to do when they are bored and want to play. When they name it, assist them in getting it out and walk away to allow them to play. If they ask you to play with them, tell them you’d prefer them to play by themselves for a while.
2. Assist your child in playing with others. The best way to help your child develop social skills is to schedule play dates and put them in situations where they can interact with other children, such as at the playground. You can also enrol your child in a parks and recreation class to allow them to interact with other children in a more structured environment.
Playacting conversations with your child can also help them learn social skills. You could, for example, pretend to be one of your child’s friends and act out a conversation your child might have with another child.
Play dates should be centred on activities that your child enjoys or is interested in. They will be more likely to interact with the other kids if they do so.
With your child, practise sharing and taking turns. Play turn-taking games with your child at home and practise sharing by asking them to play with your child’s toys and having them practise asking you verbally to play with toys that you are playing with.
3. You should read to your child. Reading to your child introduces them to books and reading, which helps them get on the right track for school. Reading to your child also teaches them to sit still for extended periods of time, which is an important skill for school.
Pick up some books about school as you get closer to starting preschool. This can help introduce the topic to your child and allow them to express their feelings and thoughts.
4. Improve your listening abilities. Your child will need to be able to listen to instructions because that is the only way a teacher can keep a class of children under control. Work on giving your child directions and having them follow through on them, such as when they brush their teeth. You can also try fun activities together, such as baking, where you tell them what they need to do.
Other games, such as I, Spy, Simon Says, Mother, May I?, and Red Light, Green Light, can help encourage listening.
Older children can practise following multi-step instructions.
5. Encourage your children’s creativity. Encouraging your child’s artistic side is not only enjoyable for both of you, but it also aids in the development of fine and gross motor skills, which are essential for beginning school. Coloring, painting, sculpting, and drawing all help your child work on those skills while having fun.
Try doing art projects together. If you can spend time with your child, he or she will be even more enthusiastic about art.
If art isn’t your child’s thing, try other activities that develop motor skills, such as building with blocks or assembling puzzles. You could also try out some basic cooking techniques.
6. Improve your communication skills. When your child is in school, they must be able to communicate with their teacher when they require something, such as going to the bathroom. They don’t have to be fluent in English, but they should be able to communicate with other adults.
Not immediately meeting your children’s needs is one way to encourage communication. That is, you may already know what your child desires before they express it. However, make them ask for what they require before providing it. This will encourage them to communicate more effectively.
You can also model behaviour by vocalising your own needs. If your child observes you asking for what you require, he or she will learn to do so as well.
Part 3 Making School Less Scary
1. Give your child a verbal sneak peek. Talk to your child about what will happen at school in the days leading up to the start of nursery school. You can tell your child where they will go, what they will do during the day, and what is expected of them. Keep it as lighthearted and fun-sounding as possible, but allow your child to express their fears. Try to answer any questions they may have in an honest and open manner.
For instance, you could say something like, “You’ll be starting nursery school in a few weeks. When you go to nursery school, you are in a setting with other children. You will have the opportunity to play and listen to stories. Mommy and Daddy will not be present, but you will be watched over by another adult known as a teacher, just like when you go to daycare. Doesn’t that sound like a good time?”
Remind your child that going to school isn’t scary and that they’ll have a good time.
2. Separation should be worked on. If this is your child’s first time away from you or other family members, it can make the process even more frightening. To alleviate some of the pain, practise separation by asking a friend to babysit for you.
Begin with shorter periods of absence, such as 30 minutes, and gradually increase to longer periods.
Inform your child that you will be leaving, but that you will return soon. When you return, you are demonstrating to your child that you will do what you say.
If your child continues to cry for the duration of your absence after several sessions, he or she may not be ready for nursery school.
3. Attend a public open house. Most schools hold open houses where you and your child can tour the facilities. Seeing the school ahead of time will help you prepare your child for his or her arrival. Furthermore, allowing your child to see the classroom can get them excited about going to school because it will most likely be bright and colourful, filled with toys and books.
Another way to ease your child into nursery school is to introduce them to the teacher. Your child will be able to observe how nice the teacher is, and they will have a friendly, familiar face on the first day of school.
4. During recess, walk past the school. Try taking your child by the school while it is in session so he or she can see the other kids playing. Seeing how much fun they’re having will make your child feel more at ease with the idea of going to school.
5. Inspire enthusiasm. When you’re talking about school, emphasise how exciting and fun it will be. If your child sees you being enthusiastic, he or she will be enthusiastic as well. Maintain your enthusiasm even if this is your child’s first day of school. If you are upset and anxious, it will rub off on your child, whereas if you remain excited, it will be easier on them the first time.
6. Give your child options. Allowing your child to select school supplies in anticipation of the start of the school year is another way to boost enthusiasm. Although the school will provide some required supplies, allowing your child to choose their lunchbox, backpack, and even new school clothes can increase their excitement.
Allowing your child to choose their own clothes for school in the morning is another way to give them options. You could, for example, let them choose their outfit as well as their snack or lunch.
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