Let’s chat about getting your little ones ready for PRESCHOOL!!
Parents!! This can be a very exciting time as you get ready to leave your tiny human with teachers you hopefully know and trust for a better part of their waking hours. But, no worries!! My job is not only help you feel more comfortable in that separation process but also re-affirm that your child is READY and so excited to be learning in a new environment. So, what can you do to ensure they will be headed off into the sunset armed with the skills they need to be successful? Let me break it down for you.
First, rest assured that there are no two kiddos at the same exact developmental stage entering preschool. This is one of the wonderful characteristics of Montessori; the teachers recognize this and celebrate it! Some of what I am going to suggest your child has surpassed with flying colors and others, your child hasn’t quite reached yet. It is ok. This is simply a guideline for what you can reinforce independence and a fluid transition at home to help. Lets’ get started.
Words. Encourage your child to use her words and use words as much as you can with her. Surround her in a sea of words anywhere and everywhere you go. READ, READ, READ. Explain things, talk through everything, ask questions and invite your child to ask questions. If she is hurt and crying, acknowledge she is in pain but stop, and again, encourage her to stay calm and use her words; “Are you hurt?” “Can you tell me with your words what happened?” “Where are you hurt?” “What would you like me to do to help you?” If your child was offended by a sibling or friend and happens to be crying or throwing a fit, ask her to calm her body and use her words so we can help her work this out. Using her words will prepare her not only for the world but also for the preschool classroom, aiding her in her social interactions and relationships.
Potty Training. Many schools require that the child enrolling is fully potty trained first. Our school does not but it is incredibly helpful to have them well on their way to toilet independence. If your child is standing and walking, begin to change them standing up and in the bathroom. This exposes them to the bathroom, that this is where toileting takes place, and that we no longer treat them as a baby and lay them down to change. Standing begins the process of. Have your child take their own pants/shorts/skirt off on her own, allowing time to do so and encourage her to put it back on, teaching along the way, as this is a bit more difficult. I would also suggest starting pull-ups to teach the skill of pulling on and off the pull-up in prep for use of underwear. Once she is cleaned up, offer the use of the toilet. Many times she will just go through the motions of sitting, using toilet paper and flushing and that is ok! This process is quick for some children and others take a significant amount of time. Just be patient and continue staying consistent and positive.
Clothing and Shoes. I would suggest having a low rack in your child’s room where she can select her own clothing and dress herself each morning before coming in to school. This reinforces self-confidence and independence. Please be sure you are sending your child to school in shoes that they have success with on their own. This means they can put their shoes on and off alone. It does NOT mean they will always be on the correct feet. If you find your child has put their shoes on the wrong feet, simply ask her (after praising for their hard work,) if her shoes feel comfortable. If she respond, “yes,” leave them alone. She did it herself and her shoes should not bother us. She will be fine and will learn as time goes on. I promise. It will be more destructive to criticize her efforts in correcting and making it known that what she just tried at, wasn’t good enough, tearing away at her little spirit. If it isn’t going to hurt her or another child, leave it be. It is a tough thing to let your child be enough in their efforts. Just trust me and know that allowing your child to be independent in these skills will build confidence and self-esteem that will aid her greatly in life. Let her do it.
Eating and drinking. This is difficult, but LOSE the bibs and highchairs when you can. We will not be putting bibs on your child. We will not be allowing sippy cups. They will not be sitting in highchairs. They will however, be sitting in child-sized chairs and at child-sized tables. They will not be using bibs and will be making messes and will need a change of clothes and there will be additional laundry. Sorry. Please just trust that THIS is a huge part of our curriculum! ABC’s and 123’s are important, but we want to ensure your little humans are functional, capable, and contributing in their own ways. The children will be drinking out of small cups, not sippy cups with lids. So, the sooner you can introduce a cup at home, the better off they will be in drinking successfully within the classroom.
Extra Skills. Some additional ways to assist your child in their journey to independence would be to allow her to serve herself snack, using dishes that are at her own height and are child-friendly. Let her help around the house. Explain what you are doing to clean and involve her. Give her jobs to help as you prepare meals. Let her know she is a vital, contributing, member of your family and that her presence is important. Give her jobs that make her feel needed and teach independence. Simplify her room and toy room to help her understand how and where things go back. Let her know it is her job to clean up and keep the house looking beautiful when she are finished playing.