Try these five tips to get your little one excited about preschool* and ready to learn!
Paint the picture
As you and your little one prepare the things they will need for preschool, talk about what they are looking forward to, and how much fun it’s going to be! Describe some of the activities they are likely to do at preschool – art, playing games, making friends and so on. Let your little one know you are excited that they are growing up and starting preschool, and how proud of them you are!
Talk about it
It’s natural if your child has a few worries about starting preschool. Talk with them about how they are feeling, and reassure them that other kids are probably feeling the same way. Then try to address the specific thing that’s worrying them. For example, if they are worried about making friends, find opportunities for them to meet other children, such as visiting family friends or the local playground. Reading books about going to preschool can also be helpful.
Find out what is expected
If you haven’t had any contact with the education system for a while, you might be wondering whether you should be teaching your child any specific skills before they begin preschool. The best way to find out is to talk to the preschool, or check your state education department website – many have ‘starting preschool’ booklets or factsheets for parents.
The Tasmanian Department of Education has some great tips and videos to help parents get their children ready for preschool (known as ‘kindergarten’ in Tasmania): http://kinder-ready.tas-education.org.
Schools and teachers will be an important part of your little one’s life for many years. When talking to your child, be positive about learning and school, even if you didn’t have good experiences at school yourself. If you’ve already met your child’s teacher, talk about how friendly and helpful they were. If you haven’t, you can still talk about teachers in general – how they are kind and helpful, how they want the best for their students, and how much your little one is going to enjoy learning from them.
Get in the zone
Sitting down with your little one and reading a book or watching a TV show about preschool is a great way to get them in the preschool zone. There are lots available, so ask friends, talk to the preschool, visit the library or search the internet for suggestions. A good start is the Raising Children’s Network at http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/starting_preschool.html.
* The Australian Government provides funding to ensure all children have access to a preschool program, in the year before full‑time school. Depending on where you live, this year may be called ‘preschool’ or ‘kindergarten’. States and territories have responsibility for providing preschool or kindergarten in their jurisdiction. Contact your state or territory education department for more information.