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Preparing your child for preschool

3-minute read

At preschool, your child will make new friends and have fun. But it's normal for both of you to feel a bit nervous before they go for the first time. It's a good idea to spend some time getting ready so things go as smoothly as possible.

What should I do before my child starts preschool?

Before your child starts preschool, it's a good idea to meet the preschool teacher. Many preschools offer an orientation day when you and your child can visit and spend some time talking to staff. They will talk to you about what happens at the preschool and will answer any questions. Make sure you know:

  • what your child should wear to preschool and what spare clothes to pack
  • what food they should bring
  • what time they should get there
  • when you need to pick them up

Also, make sure you tell the preschool about any health needs, food allergies or anything else they need to know. Label all their belongings before they start and make plans for someone else to collect them in case you can't make it for some reason.

How should I prepare my child for preschool?

Before the big day, it can help if you talk to your child about preschool and all the fun things they will be able to do there. But don't spend too much time on it because this might make them feel more anxious. You can also read books about preschool so they know what to expect.

It's also a good idea to spend time with your child doing activities like the ones they will do at preschool. For example, you could visit the local library to give your child practice listening to a story in a group. Other quiet activities that will prepare them to sit still, concentrate and follow instructions include board games and doing puzzles.

You can also boost your child's confidence and independence by letting them get dressed, eat meals, go to the toilet and wash their hands by themselves in the weeks before they start preschool.

How can I help my child settle in to preschool?

Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep the night before preschool and that they eat a nutritious breakfast before they go. It will help them concentrate, play and enjoy their day more. Try to leave home in plenty of time so you're not stressed when you get there.

Give them a cuddle and kiss then say goodbye – don't just leave in a hurry because this might distress them. If they don't like you leaving, try dropping them off with a member of staff they like or a friend. You can sit with them while they do their favourite activity. Let the staff know how your child likes to be comforted - for example, if they have a special blanket or toy.

Your child might feel a little tired and overwhelmed at first, especially if this is the first time they've been apart from you for any length of time. If this is the case, you can start with shorter days at first and gradually build up how long they stay at preschool.

It's a good idea to establish some routines when your child is at preschool - these will help them feel secure. For example, do things in the same order every day: get up, have breakfast, clean teeth, get dressed, put on sunscreen, pack their bag. You can also follow a routine for saying goodbye if that helps.

You can help your child to get the most out of preschool by:

  • keeping in regular contact with preschool staff
  • learning about the preschool routine
  • doing some of the preschool activities at home, like reading with your child
  • talking to your child every day about what they did at preschool
  • celebrating their achievements at preschool

For more information, call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to talk to a maternal child health nurse.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2019


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