Things to do before your child goes to pre-school

One of the things to do is to “bring the child on a tour of the pre-school.” How will this help the child, and what can parents do at the tour to help ease him into the pre-school?

Visiting your child’s first preschool classroom a few times before school starts can also ease the entrance into unfamiliar territory. This offers the opportunity to not only meet your child’s teacher and ask about routines and common activities, but to then introduce some of those routines and activities at home. While you’re in the classroom, let your child explore and observe the class and choose whether to interact with other kids. The idea is to familiarise your child with the classroom, lunch area, bathroom and to let him/ her get comfortable.

The more familiar your child is with the preschool staff and the environment, the easier it will be for your child to settle into the preschool. If possible, make a time to visit preschool during school hours. Parents/carers can observe the preschool in operation and have the opportunity to meet the staff, ask questions and discuss any concerns.

Your child will have an opportunity to mix with other children, encourage positive social interaction without being too pushy. Allow time for your child to socialize and enjoy the relationship with peers.

Involve your child, talk positively of what the children are doing and especially highlight things that interest your child. Talk about how much your child will learn with the new teachers. If you are positive about the school, your child will too.

While acknowledging this important step your child is taking and providing support, too much emphasis on the change could make any anxiety worse. Young kids can pick up on their parents’ nonverbal cues. When parents feel guilty or worried about leaving their child at school, the kids will probably sense that.

The more calm and assured you are about your choice to send your child to preschool, the more confident your child will be. When you enter the classroom on the first day, calmly reintroduce the teacher to your child, then step back to allow the teacher to begin forming a relationship with your child. Your endorsement of the teacher will show your child that he or she will be happy and safe in the teacher’s care.

Contributed By:

Ruth Chia
Curriculum and Programme Manager
NTUC First Campus Co-operative Limited

Another thing to do is to “prepare child for what’s going to happen in pre-school.” What can parents do at home to prepare the child for pre-school? Are there games they can play, or things that the parents can tell the child?

The important thing is to keep the preparation time for preschool fun. At this age, learning should not be a chore. There is a lot a parent can do to prepare the child. But try to keep your efforts ‘low key’. If too much emphasis is placed on this, your child may end up feeling more worried than excited.

1) Plan more social activities

  • In a pre-school setting, all children have to learn to get along with other kids. If your child hasn’t spent much time in a group, it would be helpful to arrange for playdates for your child. Essential social skills such as sharing, taking turns and playing cooperatively will help your child get used to being part of a group.
  • During this social activites, pretend play can be used to explore the idea of preschool. The children can take turns being the parent, child and teacher. Acting out daily routines, such as singing songs, reading stories, circle time, taking naps, saying good-bye to mummy and daddy.

Reassure your child that the preschool is a good place where he/she will learn and have fun.

2) Read to your child every day

  • Early Literacy and language development is crucial during the early years of a child. Preschool professionals allocate time daily reading to the children. As a parent, setting aside at least 15 minutes a day for reading time will make this a familiar routine when school starts. This will help the child in literacy and language development as children who have early experiences with books, often have no problem learning how to read later (Dickenson & Tabors, 2004).

3) Practise listening skills

  • In the preschool, children also learn to listen and follow instructions that may involve more than one step. You can help you child by asking him/her to do a series of things, like, go to the bathroom, wash his/her hands and then help to set the dinner table. Games, like ‘Simon says ‘is a good listening-and direction-following game, and ‘I spy’.

4) Preparing your child: What to expect?

  • Resist saying things like, ‘It will be the most fun place you will ever been.’ Or ‘There is nothing to be afraid of’. Never belittle your child’s fears and concerns. Do let him/her know that, if he/she feels afraid or unhappy, he/she can talk to the teacher and yourself.

Talk to him/her about what to expect when he/she gets to school, where he/she will be going, what he/she will be doing and who will be in the class with him/her.

Read stories about starting preschool, Maisy Goes to Preschool by Lucy Cousins.

  • If this is the first time your child is away from you, he/she may worry that you’re not coming back or you won’t be able to find your way back to school to pick him/her.

You may want to personalise a parting ritual between you and your child before you drop him/her at school. For example, the two of you can sing a special song together before you leave. Always say a loving goodbye to your child, but once you do, you should leave promptly. Never sneak out. As tempting as it may be, leaving without saying goodbye may make kids feel abandoned, whereas a long farewell scene might only serve to reinforce a child’s sense that preschool is a bad place. Good bye routines are comforting for children and help them to understand and prepare for what will happen next.


Contributed By:

Ruth Chia
Curriculum and Programme Manager
NTUC First Campus Co-operative Limited