Helping young children get off to a good start in preschool

The topic of my interview on Indiana Fox 50 Morning news this week was how to help young children get off to a good start in preschool. You can view the 3 minute segment below or click here to see it on You Tube

Getting enough sleep…

A good night’s sleep is critical for a child’s successful start in preschool. Start well before school begins getting your child into a good sleep pattern so that he or she is well rested for school.  Children who are tired or sleepy in school have a much harder time saying goodbye to mom or dad in the morning. They also struggle with their ability to get along with others. Children who are tired also struggle with keeping on task and participating positively in activities. Be sure to help your child get the sleep he or she needs to do well in preschool.


Visit the classroom, meet the teacher, and get a class list…

An important part of a young child’s success in preschool is feeling comfortable in the environment and accepted by the teacher. One way you can help your child feel more confident is by visiting the classroom before preschool starts Your child will feel more confident when he or she knows what to expect before arriving on the first day of school. It is a good idea to meet the teacher before school starts as well.  By meeting the teacher and seeing the classroom, you can go home and talk about the teacher. Using the teacher’s name often through casual conversation at home helps make the teacher seem a little more “familiar” to the child.

Ask if you can have a list of children’s names too. Invite your child to draw a picture for each of the children. Say the names of the other children at home through casual conversations about school. Comments like, “You are going to have a boy named Tommy in your class?” helps your child become a little more familiar with his peers before school even begins.

Know the rules of school…

Know what the expectations are regarding bringing toys to school, wearing flip-flops to school, and other school rules so your child will be prepared for a successful start in preschool.  There is nothing worse than bringing that favorite toy to school only for your child to have to put away when he or she gets into the classroom. Sometimes toys brought from home can be a distraction in the classroom or a source of conflict between children so find out what your teacher’s expectations are regarding bringing toys to school.

Know what to wear…

Make sure you dress your child for preschool play. Chances are your child will get a little messy so that brand new outfit should be something washable. Children can really worry about getting their new clothes dirty, so much so that they will not want to paint a picture or get dirt on their new shoes. Some children don’t want to wear paint smocks because they don’t want to cover up their pretty new clothes. Clothing selection can either help or hinder your child’s experience in the classroom and while playing outside so think it through and choose clothing that makes learning fun.

Plan your morning routine

Know how long it will take to get to school so you can know how early you need to leave. Allow plenty of time to get up in the morning, get dressed, eat breakfast, and get to school. Rushing through the morning and rushing to get to school on time creates stress for you and your child which can lead to very unhappy goodbyes at the classroom door.  On the first day of school, try to arrive a little earlier just in case your child needs you to stick around for a few minutes but when it is time to go, be prepared to go.  If you trust your child’s teacher, then know that he or she will make sure your child adjusts quickly and smoothly to his or her new classroom.

Backpack Talks

Find a place at home where you will put your child’s papers and other items he or she brings home from school. At the end of each school day, sit down with your child in that special place to go through the papers, artwork, newsletters, and so on that he or she brings home in the backpack. Use the items in the backpack as a way to facilitate conversation with your child about his or her day at school.

If you have other ideas for how to help children get off to a good start in preschool, then feel free to leave them in a comment below. I hope your child has a GREAT year in preschool!

Would you like to read more tips for parents of young children? Do you have some tough questions that you would like to ask? 

Hands on: as we grow has put together a team of experts  to try and help answer your toughest parenting questions! I am on the panel of experts giving an educations viewpoint but some of these questions are really very tough!! To ask your tough parenting question, click on the “raising kids is tough” button below…

This week’s tough questions are all about Eating Battles! See what the experts have to say!

By |2011-08-04T03:16:47+00:00August 4th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Amit Verma August 4, 2011 at 6:25 am - Reply

    So nice to see this info. dear. Thnx so much for sharing this beautiful blog post. You just remind me of my childhood days. Great info. Keep It Up. Have A Great Day. Keep Smiling 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 4, 2011 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Amit:)

  2. Gabby August 4, 2011 at 9:44 am - Reply

    In the classroom photo (under “Visit the classroom”) you have a red rack with trays. Do you use this as a drying rack? I’m looking for ideas for compact drying racks for art works of the children.

  3. Vicki Blacken August 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    This is really excellent! I hope many parents of first time preschoolers saw your TV segment. You really covered the important issues of plenty of rest, establishing a school routine and becoming familiar ahead of time. I especially liked your comment about trusting that the child’s teacher will help with his adjustment and “being prepared to go”. That is so important! Thanks so much for all your tips and wonderful ideas. I’m going to share these tips with our incoming parents next week at our “get-acquainted picnic.”

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 4, 2011 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      Thanks Vicki – I hope your parents find it helpful! I had a heck of a time pulling all the photos together for this:)

  4. Leslie Moreno August 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    Drop off would be another good thing to talk about. It’s hard for parents to keep it short and sweet. The longer they drag it out the more difficult it can become for the child. Every classroom is different, we have a drop off routine to give the kids something to do with their parents before they leave for the day and we have a window to wave goodbye from, if needed.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 4, 2011 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      Absolutely – drop off is a very critical time for getting off to a good start everyday!!

  5. Mercedes August 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this. My son is getting ready to start preschool and I am sick to my stomach about it! I think I am going to have a harder time transitioning than Hunter.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      I think many parents feel just like you do Mercedes. Take a deep breath:)

  6. Kristin Whiting August 5, 2011 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    These are some good reminders for parents. I can’t wait to read some of your other posts.

  7. Lisa Sunbury August 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Great tips here! I’d add one more: start your child’s day off with a good breakfast, every day. It really makes a difference in a child’s energy level, mood, and ability to enjoy all the new experiences they will encounter at school each day. Ideas? Milk, fruit, non- sugary cereal, waffles with all fruit jam, Lara bars, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, trail mix, smoothies, (We make one with frozen spinach, pineapple, yogurt, and milk, that kids love.) whole grain toast with nut butter and fruit spread, and cheese sticks- all favorites at our house.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 6, 2011 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Great tips for a morning meal! You are right – eating something that will give good energy and nutrition is very important too!

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