How to Prepare Your Toddler for Preschool

Seriously? What’s next fetal headstart walking tips? Easy there tiger (mom), this piece is all about how you can assure your toddler has a smooth and successful start to her school experience. This isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses, or getting a jump on Stanford apps, we’re just talking about how you can help assure your toddler is ready to enjoy her new peers, teachers, and school environment. Whether you choose Montessori, play-based, or academic paths, there’s plenty you can do at home to help make sure your child’s transition is as seamless as a night-time pull-up.

Support Emotional Intelligence. Most parents think of a-b-c’s and 1-2-3’s when they think of school, but any early childhood educator will tell you: it’s all about social and emotional development. As soon as children can talk, help them learn to label and understand their emotions. The more you can meet their inevitable moments of frustration with acceptance and an eye toward solutions, the sooner they will learn to do the same. The key word here is “support.”

Encourage Independence. The more young children can learn to do for themselves, the more confidence they will attain (I avoided the loaded “self-esteem” word). This will boost their resilience and emotional stability. The secret is to indeed “encourage” independence – not demand it. Tell your child you believe in him and know there will be times when he’s too tired or hungry; help him recognize all that and praise his efforts.

Develop Decentering. Swiss Developmental Psychologist Jean Piaget’s extensive research lead him to view the process of decentering as a major cognitive leap for young children. Again you will want to accept their natural inability to think of others, but there’s plenty you can do to help them learn the harshest truth of them all: the fact that the world does not revolve around them. Narrate, articulate and model the idea that people have different ideas, desires and preferences as opportunities arise throughout your day together. Decentering takes time. It’s harder for some than others. Again, model patience and acceptance.

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Instill Respect for Others. We all want our children to be respectful members of society. For many, preschool will be their first experience being part of a community. If you want your child to treat her peers and teachers with respect there’s two things you can do: 1. Treat your child with respect.  Use respectful tones and language with her and in her presence. 2. Encourage your child to do the same to you and to others. Again, there will be times when your child will struggle, patiently help her learn that emotions are OK, but disrespectful behavior is not.

Encourage Expression. The more your child is encouraged to express himself at home, the better he will be able to communicate at school. Ask him questions, tell him to describe what he was thinking, invite him to talk about his feelings and ideas!

Development is integral in the early years and the more you simply communicate with – and most importantly – listen to your toddler, the better prepared she’ll be to share a school environment with her peers and teachers. Your child will be more than “ready” to explore and excel in preschool and beyond.

(Thanks to EastBayPreschools.com for sharing this!)

Read and learn much, much more

about emotional intelligence, respect,

and guiding young children in my new book,

What They Won’t Tell You About Parenting!

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