I used to wake up early with a pit in my stomach the first day of school. Now, the nervousness is rolling over. My daughter will be entering preschool.
How to prepare her for the first day? I’m going to start now. There is so much to get used to from the big yellow bus, to the classroom environment. My favorite way to help my daughter feel comfortable with all this is the way she learns: hands on.
What advantage does play have in preparing your child for school, rather than an app or book? Although simple toys lack the bells and whistles of the myriad apps and high tech toys marketed to kids, they are essential. Pretend play is how children make sense of the world around them. I often observe how my daughter’s dolls are a version of themselves, and can eavesdrop on their day by listening to their interactions. Play therapy is not new; allowing your child time and materials to play helps them work out the emotions and situations they encounter daily.
Encountering a new situation, such as starting school is confusing and possibly scary for your child. As children create their own scenarios, they make sense of their own lives. Though you may not notice if you aren’t looking carefully, children take pieces of experiences and reorder them so they understand it- driving the bus, circle time, a new teacher, or eating lunch. The play process gives them the emotional and mental equilibrium necessary for learning and life.
By acting out the situations before the first day, as well as continuing on with the dolls as school starts, you’re giving them a safe haven to sort it all out. Watch how his mind lights up as he develops thinking skills needed for everyday life. Listen to her learning to express her ideas. Through imaginative play, children add feelings and ideas to dolls and animals, using them to comprehend their own emotions and thoughts.
How can you spark imagination?
Materials and props to encourage creativity. Suggest thoughtful ideas and see what the response is. Open ended questions can be great prompts.
Groovy Girls® dolls are especially great to showcase a real life portrait of school, and promote creative play. With their wonderful accessories and multicultural varieties, I highly recommend them. Set up a classroom with a couple of Groovy Girls and role play what the day will look like. Their fun vibe will help put you and your child at ease about school. An older sibling, friend, or neighbor can also be helpful in this way. My daughter’s friend sings the good morning song to helps her develop an expectation of a school day.
The yellow bus is a big part of school. Check out the MiO set, also wonderful to help prep your child with school. Use blocks to build a school. I love the yellow school bus set; once again, the characters are perfect.
Cute photos courtesy of Rave & Review, a MiO feature with classroom role play via http://www.raveandreview.com/2016/07/building-imaginations-with-bright-and-beautiful-mio-toys.html
Here are some activities and tips for getting ready for the first day of school:
1. Consider creating a school corner, filled with objects to play school. Here are some ideas of what to include:
- Blocks, and empty boxes for creating a school, classroom or bus
- Clothes, shoes, backpacks
- Food, plastic containers, utensils and dishes
- Writing materials such as note pads and crayons
2. Pretend you are going on a bus. Line up some chairs. Pretend to be the bus monitor and explain the rules. Invite your dolls on the bus too, to make it more comfortable and exciting.
3. Try a dress rehearsal morning. Get up early and rehearse getting ready for school.
4. Paint a big box yellow, or cover with yellow tape. Role play the first trip on the bus.
5. Give your child the time for uninterrupted play. Leave the bus and school set up for a few days to allow for continued exploration of the topic. Join with your children when appropriate, to extend their play. Observe to see what part you can play in their scenario.
Good luck with your first day! How else are you getting your child ready for school?
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