How To Prepare Your Child For Preschool | Quality Start

How To Prepare Your Child For Preschool 

Preparing Your Child For Preschool: Tips to Support the Transition

A new school year can be an exciting thing for children and their families, but with it comes a new environment, expectations, experiences, and schedules for all. Big transitions, or changes from one stage to another, can be especially challenging for young children. We’ve compiled a few tips to help ease the transition to preschool and reduce the discomfort caused by these transitions.

Tips for Preparing Your Preschooler

The start of a new adventure like attending preschool might make your child excited or nervous and everything in between. Their feelings may also change moment to moment in the days leading up to the big day. As the expert on your child, you understand their temperament and how to address their needs. The start of a new adventure like attending preschool might make your child excited or nervous and everything in between. Their feelings may also change moment to moment in the days leading up to the big day. As the expert on your child, you understand their temperament and how to address their needs. Here are a few activities to prepare for preschool:

Read together

There are many books out there that illustrate what to expect at school: what a classroom might look like, what happens in a day, how to build relationships with others, and what to do when the separation from caregivers feels overwhelming. Rosie Goes to Preschool is one that covers it all including potty time. Listen to it here or find it at your local county library.

Visit the school

If possible, make a plan to visit the school before the first day. Many preschools will host an event in the days leading up the start of school to meet students and parents and help ease first day jitters as part of preschool prep.

Detailed Daily Routine Preparation

Every preschool has its own unique routine, but understanding a typical day can significantly ease your child’s transition. Below is an overview of a standard day in many preschools to give you and your child a basic idea of what to expect. Keep in mind, specific activities and schedules can vary depending on the preschool, so it’s important to confirm the exact details with your child’s prospective school.

Arrival and Welcome

  • This is the time when children are greeted by teachers and classmates. It often involves a welcoming routine that can include a short gathering or circle time where children can share stories or talk about their morning.
  • Tip for Parents: To make mornings smoother, establish a consistent morning routine at home that mimics the school’s start time. Practice positive affirmations about school to build excitement and comfort right from the start.

Learning Sessions

  • These sessions are structured to stimulate cognitive development and can include a variety of activities tailored to young learners. Preschools often incorporate themed learning to make the process engaging, covering areas like basic math concepts, introduction to alphabets, and interactive storytelling.
  • Tip for Parents: Reinforce what’s learned at school by engaging in simple, educational games at home. Apps and books that introduce basic literacy and numeracy skills can be helpful.


  • Playtime is critical in preschool and is designed to improve both physical dexterity and social skills. Indoor play might include imaginative play with toys, puzzles, or arts and crafts, while outdoor play often involves playground activities that help develop motor skills.
  • Tip for Parents: Encourage your child to discuss the games they play at school and replicate this play at home or in local parks. This not only reinforces their learning but also helps them share their school experiences with you.

Meals and Snacks

  • This time is used to teach children about healthy eating habits and also to cultivate social skills like sharing and table manners. Meals are typically scheduled to maintain a routine and snacks are often provided to keep energy levels up.
  • Tip for Parents: Discuss the importance of nutrition and practice mealtime routines at home. Packing a preschool lunch together can be a fun and educational activity that prepares them for eating meals at school.


  • Many preschools have a designated naptime to give children a much-needed break. This helps them process the morning’s activities and rejuvenate for the afternoon.
  • Tip for Parents: Establish a consistent nap routine before starting school to make this transition easier. This includes having a specific naptime and a calming routine before sleep, similar to what they will experience at preschool.


  • The day ends with activities that wind down the excitement and prepare children to reconnect with their parents. This might include quiet time with books or a simple group activity that consolidates the day’s learning.
  • Tip for Parents: Make the pickup as consistent as possible. A predictable pickup routine can greatly ease a child’s anxiety and help them feel secure.

Tips for the Parent

Let’s backtrack a little here. To have a first day, a parent must first select a preschool for their student. Parents will be looking for a program that suits their family’s needs, location, hours, and budget. It is important to connect with the staff of a potential school to ensure that it’s the best fit. You may want to write down your questions beforehand so as not to forget anything. Essential questions address the qualifications of the staff, schedule, fees, and how the staff will support your child’s development. Click here for a comprehensive list of questions to ask when finding a preschool (or child care of any kind.)

In terms of prepping your child once a preschool has been selected, check out one of our favorite resources, Zero to Three. They have excellent advice for taking care of your little ones including what to do in the weeks leading up to school, tips on the night before and how to say that first big goodbye. The goodbye may be an especially hard piece for both child and parent so it’s good to have a plan in place to handle the big emotions for this major milestone!

Getting Ready for Preschool Checklist

To ensure a smooth transition to preschool for your child, here’s a streamlined checklist that highlights essential preparations without overwhelming detail:

Week Before Preschool

  • Discuss the preschool routine: Talk about what they can expect during their day at preschool, using simple, positive language.
  • Prepare mentally and physically: Practice morning routines like waking up, dressing, and eating breakfast at the time they would for preschool.

Day Before Preschool

  • Pack the essentials: Help your child pack their backpack with items like a change of clothes and a comfort item.
  • Set out clothes: Choose and set out clothes for the next day to minimize morning stress.

Morning of Preschool

  • Healthy breakfast: Have a nutritious breakfast to start the day energetically.
  • Arrive early: Try to get to preschool a little earlier to help your child settle in comfortably.

General Tips

  • Stay Positive: Keep your goodbyes cheerful and reassuring.
  • Quick Goodbyes: Make your departure

Tips for the siblings

The start of school affects everyone in the family. We’ve discussed ways to support the school goer, how to prepare as a parent, and now ways to help the younger sibling. Just like the child attending school, young siblings may experience a wide range of emotions from the sadness of separation to jealousy over not being able to attend themselves. One simple way to address these feelings is to first acknowledge what’s happening and the emotion it brings. Help a toddler understand what’s happening by saying something like, “Wow, it’s a big day. Your brother will be at school all day. This will be different for all of us and it might make you feel sad.” Engaging in intentional time together like one-on-one play or time outside may also be just the distraction they need. If possible, include younger children in the drop off and pick up routine so they can say goodbye, see where their sibling will be, and understand that they will be back.

We hope you and your family have a wonderful back to school season and enjoy these major events.

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