My little guy started his first year of preschool last year, and I remember being frantic that he was already going to be behind all the other kids in his class. I mean what is everyone else going to be able to do? What will the teacher expect of him? Is he going to be the problem child in the class? Will he be the only one who doesn't know sign language?!
When you're sending a little to school for the first time, it can be a little scary not knowing what they need to know going in, and I think I can speak for mamas everywhere when I say that we ALL feel like we haven't done enough to prepare our kids.
So the question is 'what does my little need to know before starting preschool?'
Luckily, the answer is 'Not much!' Preschool really is where kids learn how to DO SCHOOL. Whether you're little has been at home with you or they've been in daycare or a mix, before starting school every little is going to have to learn what's expected of them in a classroom.
Preschool is such a fun time for kids to make new friends, learn new things, and get to know how things operate in a school! Here are a few things that will definitely make your life and your little's life easier if they can handle it going in, and depending on their age and the program, might be expected for them before starting on their first day!
Independent Potty Trips
If you plan to send your little to preschool, most likely they're going to need to be potty trained, and able to use the bathroom completely on their own. That means being able to do the whole shebang solo, mamas! If they're able to get their business done without needing any help, then that will definitely help them (and their angel of a teacher) when it comes to taking the class on bathroom trips.
I also think it's important for them to get used to using the bathroom in public places like a store or at the mall. That way they get used to going to the restroom when there's other people washing hands or using the louder-than-anything hand dryers, and get used to different toilets/flushing situations. That way they won't be shocked or nervous when they get to their school bathroom and it doesn't work the exact same as the one at home.
Following Basic Instructions
This one is going to vary based on your little's age, but overall he should definitely be able to follow some basic instructions and complete the task without much assistance. This can be as simple as asking him to pick up his toys in his room and then getting up to the table for lunch, or it could be something a little trickier like put the blocks in order from biggest to smallest. Something kids will have to do a lot in preschool is sit and listen to their teacher while she greets them to the class and reads a story or tells them about the schedule for the day.
Since most littles aren't used to splitting a lot of time with mama when it comes to completing tasks, it can sometimes be hard for them when they're in a group of 10-15 kids and everyone is getting attention from the teacher. If they can complete tasks on their own, follow basic instructions without needing constant assistance or nudging, and do simple problem solving before getting to their first day of school, they're going to have a much easier time transitioning to the tasks in their preschool class!
Know Name and Age
One of the things that a lot of mamas are worried about before sending their kids to preschool is that they don't know all of their letters. No worries, mama! Preschool teachers aren't expecting your littles to know much of anything, and the majority of their curriculum throughout the year is getting them comfortable with learning to recognize letters, write them, and sound them out. Most preschool classes will focus on making sure your child can recognize their name when they see it so that they can learn to write it before starting kindergarten.
For that reason, it's important that your child be able to recognize her name when she sees it. When she's in preschool, she is going to be seeing her name in a lot of different places--on her cubby (where she'll store all her stuff), on the wall (when it's her turn for show-and-tell), and on her lunchbox and water bottle and jacket and backpack... and basically anything else you send with her that you want to make sure doesn't go home with another adorable preschooler.
Able to Play Without Mama
Most preschool classes place a big emphasis on group play, group learning, and being able to complete tasks and projects with other kids. The goal for most mamas is to make sure that their littles feel comfortable being in groups of kids without needing mama right by their side. When they start preschool for the first time, it can be a little bit of a scary experience with lots of new faces and new things to learn, but if they're still dealing with some separation anxiety and have a hard time playing with others without mama close by, they may have a harder time in school.
If you want to get your little used to doing things with kids she's unfamiliar with, you can take her to story time at your local library, get out to a park a little farther from home where she won't be with kids she sees often, or sign her up for an activity like gymnastics or dance or soccer where they'll be introduced to new kids and have to learn to play nice!