Getting Kids Preschool Ready Post-Pandemic

Is your little one starting preschool this fall? After a year of quarantine and restrictions, preschool could be an overwhelming experience for your littles. Thankfully, there are simple and fun ways to getting kids preschool ready post-pandemic. 

little girl cutting paper at a table

This past year has been a year filled with losses, including  loss of education and loss of social interactions.  And in every family each member has been grappling with the situation in her own way and at their own pace, including the children. Surprisingly, they are the ones who are doing the best.

However, what if you have a young child just coming out of this pandemic and ready to start school for the very first time? Those are two big life changes overlapping with each other. Preschool is a wonderful opportunity for a child to explore and learn along with forming new friendships. In normal circumstances, most children would embrace it with unbound enthusiasm. But after this past year, some might need a little help from parents and other caregivers. By making this change a little more gradual we can give them the time to adapt to this new world confidently.

Social and Separation Anxiety

Some small children have never been to grocery stores or other public places due to the pandemic. Being in a room full of strangers may be tough for them.  With the restrictions easing up, take your child to a few outdoor places which are not overly crowded. Start with an outdoor kids concert, play date in a park or the beach, or a visit to the farmers market. Then take them indoors to a less crowded place like the library. You will see the hesitation ease after a few visits.

It will be absolutely great if you can plan play dates with a future classmate before the preschool actually begins. This way your child  can always associate preschool to just another place where she would meet her friend.

Have your child watched  over by a friend or grand parent for small increments of time so as to get her over the separation anxiety gradually. Try not to fret too much for these little wonders will eventually embrace this new experience too.

Learning at home

You can also introduce a little learning at home before preschool so that kids consider learning as a fun part of their everyday life. Moms are their child’s first teacher, so what and how we moms teach can become a foundational part of their learning process. Establishing the fun aspect in learning early on will enable them to view school as a fun place to be and they will look forward to going. Those neighborhood walks can turn into nature scavenger hunts. Share the marvel with the little ones as you spot different flowers, leaves, stones, birds and trees. Possibilities on all outdoor excursions are endless. Share their joy as you crush dried leaves on your way, play hopscotch, jump in puddles, watch the earthworms and ants together.

 

Health and Wellness

From a health and wellness perspective, getting all the vaccinations up to date is strongly recommended. Take your child to the long pending dental visit, which I know I had been putting off forever. For kids with allergies, an updated allergy test will ensure all allergies are current and addressed.
This is also a good time to move potty training to top of your list and get it over with.  As every mom would say, one less thing to worry about.

Communication

Teach children  how to communicate basic things in the spoken language in school. Parents might have to put in the effort if  they speak a different language at home. Parents tend to pick up on body language and gestures. However, before beginning preschool, encourage kids to use as many words as possible to express. A toddler can learn up to 6 new words daily including the correct names for body parts. Having these words in their vocabulary at this stage would put the teacher’s, as well as your own, mind at ease. “My tummy pains, “ would get a swift reaction and response from the teachers.
The first day will be all nerves for the parent. Talk to your child well in advance about how she is going to meet friends in school. A friend of mine suggested a wonderful way to make any change or transition easy for your child. We call it the 5 mins heads up. You allow the child to prepare for the next thing. It has worked so beautifully for us and averted any meltdown situations. So instead of  “it’s time to leave for school”.  Give the little kiddo 5 mins to adjust to the next change. Begin with “we have 5 more mins before we are headed to preschool”.

Gratitude

Coming out of the pandemic has filled our lives profound sense of gratitude too. Share this sense of gratitude with your kids. Tell them how lucky we are that we can go to a supermarket to buy apples. We all have seen what a huge part of our lives was taken for granted.
And last but not the least keep mom friends close. These friendships are most meaningful in coming years. We are sharing the most important goal of a parent “the well being of our child.” And sharing with each other will make this journey easy breezy for you and your child.

Our Story

So, I decided to enroll my daughter to a preschool program. A few weeks before, a cousin was visiting from LA. We planned for a nice dinner at a Thai place in uptown. We all were so excited for our first dinner outing since the pandemic. My daughter took one look at the crowded restaurant, proceeded to sit on the sidewalk and refused to go inside. “Oh WOW! Is this how it is going to be?!“ was my reaction.

Cut to the first day of preschool. With wide-eyed curiosity, little M pushed the door open for the first time to her preschool. Two hours later she emerged with the biggest smile and even did a little dance on her way out. I was over the moon that my little girl had found her second home. As she spotted our car parked in the lot, realization dawned that the fun day at school was over. Sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk for the next 20 mins, she refused to leave her preschool. I was exasperated, amused, and baffled –  “Oh WOW! Is this how it’s going to be!”

Hi ! I am Madhura 🙂. I live in Maple Grove with my husband and daughter. My daughter just turned 2 so I am relatively new to parenting. I believe I am learning something new everyday as my daughter grows older. I studied Computer engineering in India and worked in US for few years before becoming a stay at home mom which I love very much. Born and raised in India and now living in Minneapolis for almost 13 years I feel my life experiences are an amalgamation of East and west. I would describe myself as inquisitive and I am always on the lookout for artistic endeavors. Currently my favorite activities include jumping in rain water puddles and making funny faces with my kiddo.

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