Smooth Transitions to Preschool


The beginning of preschool can be an exciting—but sometimes scary—time for young children. But with a little help at home, your child will be prepared for success both in school and in life.

Here are some tips to help make the transition to preschool go more smoothly:

  • Allow your child to spend time with other trusted adults—whether it’s a family member or a quality childcare program. This not only helps him learn to separate from you, it also helps you prepare for leaving your child in a preschool program.
  • Provide plenty of play opportunities with other children. This will help your child learn to get along with others, to share toys and to take turns.
  • Play games that teach your child how to wait or take turns, such as “London Bridge” or “Duck, Duck, Goose.”
  • Offer a variety of learning activities during the day—from quiet stories and art/craft projects to physical activities such as running, jumping and climbing.
  • Talk to your child. Involve him in your daily routine, ask questions and encourage him to speak up and express ideas.
  • Encourage your child to select clothing and to dress himself. (Note: You can avoid a fuss by planning ahead. Set out only a small selection of appropriate outfits, and let him choose from those options.)
  • Practice taking shoes and socks off, and putting them back on again.
  • Encourage your child to clean his own room and help with simple chores around the house. And don’t forget to praise his efforts.
  • Work on proper bathroom skills—how to zip, button and pull his clothes up and down, how to use toilet paper, how to flush the toilet, and how to wash and dry his hands. And be sure to provide a step stool and place things like soap and a towel within his reach.
  • Introduce basic concepts, such as letters, numbers, shapes and colors. For example, you might count the number of plates needed for dinner, or talk about different colors while sorting laundry.
  • Introduce basic information, such as his full name, address and telephone number, as well as your full name and where you work.
  • Be sure your child has an opportunity to visit his new school, and talk with him about the things he will do at school. (Most schools have an Open House or a Visiting Day for children who are beginning preschool.)
  • Use positive, happy words when talking with your child about school. Talk about how much fun you—or an older brother or sister—had while in preschool.
  • Read to your child every day. Encourage him to help select books, talk about the story, and practice retelling it in his own words. Allow him to hold the book and turn the pages himself.
  • Make sure your child is in good health—physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually. Schedule regular wellness visits and immunizations, provide healthy foods, and be sure your child is getting enough sleep and exercise.