All children are ready for preschool sometime between the ages of three and five years old, with physical, social and emotional development often playing a role in what age he or she begins a school program. In order to help a child easily transition to school, a parent can teach 5 important life skills before the first day of preschool.
1. Know own full name and address
Most young children know their first name, however it is very important for a child to know both his first and last name as he ventures out of his home environment and out into the world. An emergency situation may arise anywhere, at anytime and the safety of a child may depend on his ability to provide his full name and address. It is also a good idea for a child to know both parents' full names and home phone number. This practical knowledge will help a child feel a sense of confidence when joining any group of new friends and teachers at school.
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2. How to get dressed independently
Most preschool programs require a child to be potty trained prior to beginning school, however in the excitement of a new experience, accidents are bound to happen. The child who is able to change clothes on his own will feel self-confident and independent. Additionally, in a classroom of 20 or more children, each child is expected to independently change from shoes to boots and be able to take off and put on a coat by himself. To ensure success and confidence be sure to choose easy to manipulate clothes that feature elastic waistbands, Velcro closures and smooth zippers.
3. How to drink from a cup
Despite the common use of sippy cups and juice boxes at home, in a preschool program a child will be expected to drink from a cup without a straw. Children as young as 18 months old can begin to drink from a cup. During a preschool program, a child may also eat snack or stay for lunch which will also involve eating with utensils and practicing proper table manners. The hand-eye coordination and concentration required in these activities will aid in the development of other skills in addition to building independence.
4. How to say goodbye
Dropping off a child on the first day of school is often an emotional experience for both child and parent. Establish a goodbye routine that is short and sweet and then practice it often by leaving the child with a grandparent, friend or spouse. The best way to say goodbye to a young child is to squat down to his eye level, give him a brief hug and kiss, smile and say "goodbye, I love you, I'll see you when school is over" and then leave. Avoid saying "I'll miss you", lingering after the goodbye or showing any sadness over leaving your child. Young children have an easier time transitioning when a parent is consistent and a happy routine is established.
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5. How to be a friend
It is true that a young child will make new friends in preschool; however, often he will need guidance in order to feel confident in approaching and playing with new children. Give a child the polite words to use and model the phrases at home with adults and other children at appropriate times. Practice phrases like "Can I use that when you are finished?" "Can I play with you?" "Would you like to play with me?" "May I borrow this?" Young children will natural begin to use the polite phrases that he hears often.