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6 ways to get your child ready for pre-school

Get your little one all revved up and prepared to go to school, with the help of these handy tips.

What can you do to make your child’s first day at preschool as easy as possible? The first thing you have to do is to figure out if it’s the right time for your child. While most schools will take in children from the age of two-and-a-half, your child has to be socially, physically and emotionally ready for school. She has to be able to follow basic instructions, socialise well with other kids and be able to do simple tasks such as washing her hands, holding a pencil and putting her toys away.

If you’re not sure if your child is ready, signing your little one up for playgroups is an easy way to start. Watch how your child plays and interacts with other children, to help you decide if she’s ready for the preschool environment. Things to note include her ability to stay focused on a single task, whether she joins the kids in shared activities and how she gets along with others.

In the meantime, start teaching your child the skills that she needs for school life. Keep the following steps in mind, in the lead up to the little tot’s day one at preschool.

Encourage them to be independent
Equip your child with simple self-help skills that she will need while at preschool. This includes learning to put her toys away, wearing her shoes as well as zipping or unzipping her backpack for the things that she needs. It’s also good to practice listening skills with your kid, as she will need to follow the instructions shared by the teacher. Try playing a game of “Simon says”, to help the little one get used to taking directions.

Hone her bathroom skills
Help your child improve her bathroom skills, so that she’s comfortable and confident about using the toilet on her own when at the preschool. Teach your child how to inform the teacher when she needs to use the toilet. If she’s still having difficulties with that, check with the preschool about their toilet training practices. Some schools will help support the toilet training process, while others may require that your child be toilet trained before her first day at school.

Talk to them about school
Get them emotionally ready and excited about school by talking about school life. Tell them about what to expect and the fun activities they can look forward to. You can do this with the help of activity books such as the Go Go Intellectual Skills, which contains activities and situations your child may encounter at school. It also teaches your child basic skills such as pencil control and how to draw and colour, with the help of fun stickers and cutouts that your little one can play with. Free samples of the workbook can be downloaded online here.

Know the basics
Preschool is a time for fun and learning, so don’t freak out if your child doesn’t yet know all of her ABCs and shapes. Just start with the basics, such as how to say her full name, address and phone number when prompted.

If you feel that she needs some help with her lessons, introduce fun ways for your child to learn about colours and shapes to cultivate her love for learning. Try the Gakken New Block, which consists of pieces that are soft and easy to grip with little hands. The bright colours of these blocks make it easy to teach your child about colours while honing her motor skills.

Build good social skills
Sign her up for playdates with other kids before preschool starts, so that she gets used to playing with others. You can also try taking turns to roleplay as teacher, mummy and kid. This familiarises your child with some of the common activities for school, such as hand painting and story reading, as well as routines such as nap time and toilet breaks. You can also request to visit the school with your child, to let her get familiarised with the new environment.

Be all prepared and be early
On the night before her first school day, pack her bag together. Add her favourite toy to the bag, which can be comforting to have with her. Head to bed on time and rise up early the next day, to have a leisurely breakfast with your child. Once at the school, keep goodbyes short and don’t make a fuss out of it. Leave once you’ve shared loving goodbyes and let them know you’ll be back for them once schooltime ends. When it’s soon time to pick your child up, make sure you’re there punctually so that your child won’t feel uneasy about your separation.