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Once the Labor Day BBQs are over and the kiddy pool put away until next year, it's time to start thinking about school. For some kids, school is an exciting time full of new experiences and friends.

For others, the transition from mom's little helper to preschooler is a little more difficult. When it comes to insecure kids, first day of school can seem impossible. Fortunately, there are a lot of gentle ways to prepare your child for her first adventures in learning.

Going to preschool is a big change that can be emotional and challenging. As a mom, it's important to understand your child's fears and find ways to help her prepare for preschool.

Pretend Preschool

One of the best ways to prepare a child for preschoolis to understand yourself what he will encounter there. While letters, number, colors and shapes are all likely to be addressed at preschool, what the experience is really about is learning to play cooperatively with other children and function in a more structured environment. Taking turns, sharing, learning empathy, basic hygiene, playing nicely and listening are the most important skills your preschooler will learn this year. One way you can help him prepare for the experience is to practice these things at home.

Practice Playtime

If your preschooler is your first and/or only child, he probably hasn't had to refine his playtime manners as much as he would if there were older siblings in the home. Try and arrange play dates with other children and use them as an opportunity to teach sharing and fair play. By exposing your child to social rules before preschool, he'll have a smoother transition.

Play Games

Another great way to prepare for preschool is to play preschool kids games at home. You don't need to go out and spend a lot of money on fancy curriculum. Simply reach into your own childhood and teach your child the games you played at her age. Ring around the rosy, duck-duck-goose, tag, Simon says and follow the leader are all good examples of preschool games your child will enjoy. Go a step further and incorporate preschool kids musicinto your daily routine. There are a ton of kids CD's available in stores or online. Invest in one or two and have ten minutes of music time a day. Sing and dance with your child, and when she goes to preschool, she'll be comforted by the familiar tunes.

Best Preschool Activities and Policies

The best preschools will incorporate the following activities and policies:

  • Open doors—parents can drop in any time to observe classes
  • Free time for unstructured play
  • Small motor skill activities like crafts, painting, coloring, lacing, cutting and writing
  • Large motor skill activities like running, jumping, skipping and ball games
  • Multi-media learning using computers, videos, games and hands on objects
  • Lots of teacher to parent communication via emails, websites, etc.
  • Short field trips to enriching environments like parks, libraries and community centers
  • Clear rules and fair discipline policies

Try to learn as much about the preschool your child will attend in advance. The more you can describe what preschool will be like, the more comfortable your child will be. Let him visit the school in advance and meet his teacher. Most important, when the big day comes, be ready to leave him at the school no matter what kind of emotional display he presents to you. It's important for him to understand that school is his teacher's domain and not yours.

By letting his new teacher comfort him and help him adjust, you're giving him a chance to develop a bond with her. Remember, she can always call you if things get out of hand.

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