Three preschool-aged children sit next to each other in the grass.

How to Make the Transition Smooth with This Simple Guide

Preschool promotes early learning and academics for children who are too young to attend kindergarten. The transition from early years at home to preschool could be stressful for you and your child. To ease the process, it’s best to be prepared!

What Makes for the Best Preschool?

If your child is aged three or older and is ready to attend preschool, start to visit a few facilities to see if the environment is a good fit. It’s a good idea to consider the preschool’s location, the teaching approach, whether your child has special needs that can be accommodated, and cost.

The best preschools are licensed and have a safe ratio of teachers to children. A one-to-eight child-to-staff ratio is appropriate and you should feel comfortable as a parent speaking with the teacher and having an open dialogue.

 What Do Children Learn in Preschool?

In preschool children develop a wide variety of essential skills. Through story time, singing songs, doing crafts, playing games and participating in all kinds of fun and creative activities children are gaining skills and confidence in a fun and healthy environment.

There is curriculum for preschools in Canada to help children prepare for full-day kindergarten. Children learn math, literacy, science, and creative arts. Different kinds of preschools may structure their programs differently based on different models, but these key areas will be covered.

Physical development through indoor and outdoor games help children develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Cognitive development allows children to expand their vocabulary and develop their language skills, and also learn reasoning, problem-solving and creative thinking. Through storytelling, lessons and interactive playtime, children learn social skills including sharing, communication and manners. Preschool is also a good environment for children to learn to identify their own emotions and those of others and to learn how to express their feelings in healthy ways.

What Is the Ideal Preschool Learning Environment?

It may be difficult to know what to look for when selecting a preschool for your child. There are a variety of programs and preschool types out there including play-based, academic, Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia. Think about your own child’s needs. There is no right or wrong choice, just the best fit for each child.

The ideal preschool learning environment should provide a good balance of both learning and play. The broader the range of activities, the greater range of skills your child will likely develop. The most important considerations for a good learning environment are that the spaces are clean, safe, friendly and a positive place for your child.

Pros and Cons of Preschool

There are many advantages to sending your children to preschool. The structure and daily routine help prepare children for the school day and gives them the skills they to socialize with other children and adults outside of family life.

While daycare, childcare and nursery school can provide care for your child when they are young, preschool offers much more with its focus on academic learning. Teachers are trained and prepared to teach children new skills and knowledge. Preschool can also act as a test run for private schooling, and some elementary schools look favourably upon preschool-educated children.

Some concerns parents might have about sending children to preschool include lack of one-on-one time, as teachers must divide their time between many children where children might have the full attention of their parents at home. Some experts worry that preschools may introduce learning to children too early.

At What Age Should I Send My Child to Preschool?

Preschool is meant for children who are still too young to attend kindergarten. The average age range for children to attend a preschool program is between three and five years old. Some programs may accept children as young as one or two years old.

Preschool is different from daycare, childcare or nursery school in that it focuses more on early learning and academics, helping give children an early start to get off on the right foot of learning and development!

How Do I Prepare My Child for Preschool?

Heading off for a new experience in preschool can be a little bit scary for both children and parents, but some tips and tricks make for a much smoother transition. For children who have spent the first three or four years at home with their parents, they may have no idea what to expect in this completely new environment with all new people and a new set of rules and expectations.

To help ease your child into preschool, leave them some time to adjust. Experts in early childhood development say it can take six-eight weeks for children to feel comfortable going to preschool. Even if children resist, it’s a good idea to remain consistent!

Some ways to make children feel comfortable heading off to preschool for the first time is going shopping for special items specifically for preschool. A new backpack can get your child excited about this new adventure. Packing a comfort item, introducing your child to the preschool playground ahead of time and having your child watch the pick-up and drop-off can also make that first day at preschool less jarring.

While some preparation is essential, don’t overthink your child’s transition to preschool. Making too much of a big deal about the change may cause unnecessary stress. There are some good guides outlining what kind of preparation to do when so that both you and your child don’t feel overwhelmed, such as starting to use “preschool” bedtimes and mealtimes to adjust to new schedules a few weeks before their first day.

Choosing to send your child to preschool can start them off on the right foot of learning and early development, and if you as the parent do your homework, research and preparations, the transition to preschool can be a smooth one for you and your