How to Prepare Kids for Preschool

Starting preschool is a big step for a child. Parents have to play an essential role in preparing their toddler for this new experience. Here are a few tips to ensure the transition is a smooth sailing!

Preschool WorkbookImage Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/coriehowell/11302243734/

Prepare on time

It’s pointless if children are trained for preschool months in advance. Building up the preparation far ahead of time can overwhelm a child and make her anxious of what’s about to come. She may eventually end up refusing to go to her preschool daily because of the built-up anxiety in her. Instead, it’s a good idea to start talking to your future preschooler in a casual manner about a month before classes start. For example, when you are out buying regular grocery for home, you can say, “When you go to preschool, you shall buy you a pink bag as pretty as that one”, or “Which water bottle would you like to buy from these to take to your preschool”. Grab opportunities from daily lives to gradually introduce the concept of school to your child.

Have a schedule

Having a schedule will help a toddler transition into a preschool setup smoothly. A routine at home will help a child understand the importance of time and the need to complete tasks on time. It’s a good idea to have a fixed time to wake up and go to bed at night, a time limit to finish breakfast, get ready, etc. Once a routine is set, toddlers will be prepared mentally for the day ahead and work towards completing each task without minimal nagging by parents. A lack of consistent routine for your child at home will make it difficult for her to adjust to preschool where time is one of the main constricting factors.

Take Advantage of Teachable Moments

Children are blessed with the trait of being naturally curious about the world. Their curiosity opens the door for parents to teach them at every small instance. Encourage your child to help neighbors, interact with other children, observe natural phenomena around them like rain, sunrise, and more, and talk to you about their experiences and observations. Ask them “How did it feel to help your neighbor”, “Is the sun round or oval”, or “What’s your friend’s favorite nursery rhyme” to help them comprehend their own observations and experiences. Point out and ask children questions about natural phenomena like weather, leaves falling, birds flying, etc. and enrich their learning experiences.

Play games

Preschool LunchImage Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzymelibee/8791464219/

There are a zillion of free preschool games online that you can get toddlers to play even before they join preschool. Most of these games introduce toddlers to patterns, colors, shapes, sizes, comparisons, alphabets, and numbers and are programed with splashes of colors and streams of animation making it a fun learning experience for kids. If you are keen on your child playing offline games too, have her count the number of bread slices on the plate, tell the color of a cake, or figure the shape of a table, all the while choosing examples from around them.

You don’t have to limit yourself to just the tips above. After all, being a parent, it’s you who’ll know the best what’s the best way to teach your child!

Picture Book Biographies

I am a big fan of biographies – my dad had a huge collection of them and what started off as me imitating him, turned into a feel good activity for me. I was not so lucky to pass on that habit to my kids though. They prefer fiction and I can’t really blame them. There is inspiration to be had from reading about the lives scientists, historians, artists and writers that can’t be replicated in works of fiction. Thankfully, there are picture book biographies that are beautifully drawn and written that make it the envy of any kid’s bookshelf. Here are my 3 most favorite.

Me, Jane

mejane1A chronicle of the early life of Jane Goodall, my childhood hero and inspiration.

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People

pabloneruda_poetofthepeople4One of my most favorite poets – while I can’t write poetry (trust me, I’ve tried), his poems still move me tremendously

On a Beam of Light: A story of Albert Einstein

onabeamoflight3Ever since I saw Einstein’s blackboard in Oxford, I became obsessed with this genius scientist. Apart from trying to get my hair to stick up like his, I became fanatical about reading about everything to do with him. This book is a wonderfully illustrated and delightful retelling of Albert Einstein’s life journey.

Stories for Preschoolers

One of the best things about growing up is the stories we hear and the stories we create out of our experiences. Stories have figured prominently in cultures for centuries, from elaborately woven folktales to humorous anecdotes. But their function is not mere entertainment.

These days the forms and sources of stories have changed. Though it began as an oral tradition, it soon found a comfortable home in the pages of books. Now we have interactive apps and games for preschoolers that follow a story line and even offer virtual storybooks!

But despite the change in the way they are presented, these stories still give children the same benefits as they did in earlier days.

Storytelling SessionsStorytelling Sessions” by Zhao! is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Benefits of Stories

Stories, at every stage in our life, can make a difference. How do preschoolers benefit from stories?

  • Language – Stories improve language skills as preschoolers will learn new vocabulary and acquire an understanding of sentence structure. If they listen to the stories, they can understand intonation and other aspects of verbal communication. When they read stories aloud, they can develop fluency. Their ability to comprehend the story can help them in their academics.
  • Imagination – Stories fire up a child’s imagination. They begin to make connections and will learn to think visually. It allows them to think in different ways and make free associations that develop their creativity. Stories also enhance memory.

Hunter Valley GardensHunter Valley Gardens_165_January 07_2010” by Michael Dawes is licensed under CC BY 2.0

  • Culture – Certain stories teach children about their history and culture. Not just that, but they will also learn about other cultures which will increase their understanding of the world. It allows young children to step out of the narrow confines of their environment into something bigger.
  • Social – Stories are a safe way to introduce children to a variety of life experiences so that they understand emotions they are yet to experience. This allows them to communicate emotional responses appropriately. Stories specific to situations children may encounter like bullying or attending a party or making friends are often helpful in developing their social skills.

How to Tell a Good Story

How do you engage preschoolers in a story so that it gives you the desired results?

Reading TogetherGrandson and Grandmother” by Johanna Loock is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Picture books without words are a great place to start. You can describe each scene in a simple sentence, while asking your child questions about what they see and what they think will happen.

Try relating a personal experience that you shared with your child. Perhaps you went to the park where you saw a butterfly and it started raining. Remind your child about it and together construct a story out of that experience. Encourage your child to retell his own experiences so that they can relate to their experiences with ease. They will also learn to arrange the events in the right sequence.

Little Reader25 – Little Reader” by Melanie Holtsmans is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Tell children stories without reading the story from a book. Whatever the story, using simple sentences, vivid imagery, emotions, and exaggerated body language can hold a preschooler’s attention. You can even include props wherever possible like finger puppets. Ask them questions to keep them interested or ask them to finish the story for you. Try the string-a-long story method where you take turns telling stories!

When your preschooler finally makes their way to reading, allow them to choose their own storybooks and allow them to lose themselves in the tale!

It’s Storytime!

Brand-Storyteller

The love of reading was instilled in me as a very, very young child. My mum insisted that gifts to me be given in the book format. I never complained because I love the little pictures that went with little sentences that transported me to a whole new world. My dad would put us to bed at night with a play he directed and acted in. He would play all the characters, he would modulate his voice accordingly and he would always get peals of laughter from us. When I was old enough to know what I wanted as presents, I’d ask for books. I spent my first salary on books. You know where this is going.

I recently found a website called Story Online that is perfect for kids below the age of 10. Story Online has curated children’s books that have been illustrated and narrated by the authors and famous voices in a way in which your kids are sure to love. Go ahead and check them out.

There is something so magical about stories that just transform you in a way no other medium can. When I travel, I count my adventures in terms of how many local legends I learn about. You could say I’m somewhat of a story hoarder. When e-readers and audio books were first introduced, I struggled to get on board but when I did; a whole new world was opened up to me. That is the power of a story – it doesn’t matter what medium you get it through – a bonfire whispering, a theatrical outpouring, your favorite lines spoken by your favorite voice.

Music and Your Preschooler

Music has been an intrinsic part of many cultures for centuries. It comes as no surprise that studies have proven music affects people in surprising ways. Younger children benefit from music too. Music is more than just a background in the life of a preschooler. It plays a pivotal role in developing various skills in young children. It is a fun way to learn and is easy to introduce to children. So how can parents expose preschoolers to music and how does it benefit the children?

Exploring Musicexploring music” by Samantha is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Music in Games

Most children’s games have background music that is catchy and appropriate for preschoolers. There are also free preschool games that are music-centric like The Music House that allows children to play the online version of different music instruments. Musical Chairs is another game that is ideal when you have a group of children.

Play Instruments

There are many musical instruments available in the market that are specifically designed for young children. They don’t require any special training, and children will learn by observing the kind of music that is produced. It is more about play than technique, which allows young children to experiment. Some of the musical instruments that are ideal for preschoolers are glockenspiel, shakers, bongos and maracas. If children show an inclination toward music, formal music lessons are ideal.

Learning PianoLearning Piano” by Oliver Quinlan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sing & Dance

Fingerplay and songs that require children to move like ‘If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands’ and ‘Old MacDonald’ help improve motor skills. Another way for kids to tune into music is by dancing to mixed music. They will discover different sounds and rhythms as they instinctively move their body. Old folk songs are great to sing along and singing along can help improve language skills. Children will also learn to listen and pronounce words. It is easier for children to memorize facts that are set to music.

Kid DancingKid Dancing” by Yi Chen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Benefits of Music

Some of the benefits of music that contribute to a child’s development are:

  • Better coordination and motor skills
  • Cognitive development
  • Improves ability to concentrate
  • Understand the emotions music elicits
  • Develops language skills and phonetic awarenes

Darwin TunesDarwinTunes 2.0 in action” by uncoolbob is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By understanding the power of music and its effects on your preschooler, you will be able to utilize it to benefit them in the best way possible.