Augie started preschool a few weeks ago and now it’s official: my littlest kid is now a big kid! He’s been going to day care a few days per week for a few years now, of course, so it’s not his first time out in the world without us, but this still feels like a really big step to me. Because — hey now! — it’s SCHOOL!
We didn’t have to search for a preschool for Augie because we knew we wanted him to go to the same school Wyatt went to. While that was a big load off our minds, starting preschool was not without its stresses. For one thing, Augie needed to be toilet trained before he started so we had to kick that into gear over the summer even though I don’t think he was quite ready for it. We also were planning to transition him to more days per week. And finally, he really loved his day care and it wasn’t easy for him to say good-bye to the people there — especially because he didn’t fully understand why he wasn’t seeing his beloved teachers and friends any more.
Since he didn’t really understand what was coming, we prepared him as much as we possibly could for this new experience. Here are some of the things we did to get him ready for preschool:
- Start teaching your kids when they’re young. Augie (and Wyatt before him) entered preschool with a lot of skills already. Zach and I never implemented a formal teaching program, but we used every day activities as teaching opportunities — identifying colors, counting with them and reading to them every single day from the time they were babies. I also got ideas from books, websites, other parents and our children’s day care providers who have a million great ideas.
- Visit the school in advance. We visited Augie’s preschool many times before he started going on his own to ease him into his new environment. I know that this isn’t an option at every preschool, but it’s encouraged at our school and we took advantage of it. By the time I started leaving him for the full morning, he felt really comfortable with the teachers and he already had a few friends.
- Talk it up. When we weren’t visiting his preschool, everyone in the family was talking to Augie about how awesome preschool is. It helped a lot that Wyatt attended the same school and could tell Augie about his favorite toys and activities and what to expect on a day to day basis. Zach and I also knew the teachers well and could talk about how nice they are.
- Practice the skills he’ll need in advance. Preschool comes with new expectations and it helps to practice some of the new skills he’ll be expected to learn. For example, Augie’s day care provider used to open his lunch box and water bottle for him and give him a fork to use. But at preschool, he is expected to carry his own lunch bag to the table, open his bento box and start eating by himself, so we had a couple of practice sessions at home before he started school. We also practiced a few other skills like getting his own jacket on and off, putting his backpack in his cubby and — of course — toilet training.
So far, Augie is doing really well at his new school. He’s made friends with lots of kids, he hasn’t cried once and — the best sign — he doesn’t ever want to leave when I come to pick him up.
I’m curious to know: What advice do you have for moms prepping for preschool? KinderCare will choose one lucky participant and make donation in their name to the Reach Out And Read chapter of their choice!