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Pre-school Preparations: Why Routines Are A Must?

6 min read

Preschooler routine
Congratulations! Your toddler is finally big enough to be sent to preschool. As you prepare to put your toddler in a preschool, your biggest worry is how he would adjust. You do not want him to cry his heart out every day, so even before the school starts, you start the “school pep talks”. You tell him how exciting the school would be, how he would make new friends, how he would get to play with new toys and how he would be back home soon so there is no reason to worry or cry. However, what you do not prepare him for– and this is what mostly worries the kids apart from the anxiety of being away from you – is how his schedule changes in the pre-school.

Why Is A Routine Important For A Toddler?

Every child is a stickler for routine. The consistency that comes with a set routine makes the child happy and secure. You would have already experienced crankiness when your little one misses his afternoon nap, for instance.
When a child knows what to expect and what not to expect at different times of a day, it makes him more grounded and disciplined as there are few unknowns in his day. When he knows what is coming next, he will not be cranky and tune in accordingly. The predictable pattern of his day also helps instill trust between him and the adults around him.

How Does My Child’s Schedule Change After Playschool?

When your child starts preschool, he is effectively forced to change the routine he has been used to all his life! Imagine this, he is cranky when he misses a nap at home. In preschool, he is asked to nap at a different time, and as if that is not enough, he will be in a new place, away from home, away from mommy and surrounded by friendly-but-strange faces. Anxiety and insecurity enter the scene very quickly and it all translates into “I don’t want to go to school!” and other wails every day. Further, just as consistency in routine helps him trust his care provider, he feels threatened by adults who disrupts his schedule, in this case, the preschool teachers, which obviously is not desirable.
Do not worry, this is not a lost cause. By understanding how your child’s schedule changes, and by preparing him for it, you can ease his anxiety.

What Are The Major Routine Changes For A Pre-Schooler?

When your child starts pre-school, the following are the major schedule changes that can happen:

  • Wake up time: Depending on when your child needs to leave for school, his morning routine changes great deal. If he is an early riser, its half the battle won. If he is not, then he might have to wake up earlier than he is used to and this can lead to protests
  • Meal time: At home, your child is usually fed on demand. He probably watches TV when eating. Or you tell him a story when feeding him. Whatever be the case, preschool might have a different snack and main-meal time
  • Potty time: Well, a child goes to potty when he needs to, wherever he is. However, some kids – especially the potty trained ones – are not comfortable doing potty in school, where he knows he will not be cleaned by someone he is used to. By holding back potty, he becomes irritable and uncomfortable, that leads to crankiness
  • Nap time: Your child might be used to a later afternoon nap. Or if he is an early riser, he might doze off by 12 noon. All this would change in preschool. Most preschools have set nap time, usually after lunch by 1. When your child doesn’t get to sleep at a time he is used and is forced to sleep on a floor mattress with other kids, it can raise his anxiety levels very high
  • Play time: Your child is used to playing when he wants where he wants. This will change in preschool, where there are set “play-times” and set “sit-down-times”
  • Activity time: Most parents do not differentiate between play and activity time when at home. However, activity times refer to a period when your child engages himself in some activity to learn a new skill. The key thing here is that the time is structured and your child is expected to sit through it without getting distracted


How To Prepare A Child For The New Routine In Preschool?

One of the most effective way to prepare your child for the preschool is to understand how his new routine will be and slowly transition him to the routine at home itself. Here are some tips in evolving your child’s schedule:

  • Take the cues from the school: Talk to the preschool teacher early on and understand from her how her class schedule looks like. Understand what kind of meals would be fed at what time; figure out the time when they would be playing, when they would be sleeping and when they would be doing various learning activities. This is your battle plan! Once you have it, you can start thinking about making changes at home
  • Start the transition as early as possible: Once you are equipped with the information on preschool schedule, start modifying your child’s day. Ideally you will have about 2 months after admissions before the school reopens. But some of us make up our minds on preschool a bit later, so we get less time. This is ok as long as you understand what needs to be done
  • Nap routines: Do not change everything all at once. Start with nap timings. Encourage him to sleep early, so that he wakes up earlier than usual. This would mean he is ready for his noon nap sooner. In a week or two, your child would adapt to the new nap routine
  • Make changes to the meal: If you are worried your child might not snack well in the school, think about starting the day with a heavy meal at home. Change your child’s meal timings in accordance to the schedule the teacher gave you. Also enquire about the kind of snacks and meals given in the school (if the school provides the food). Try to incorporate the same food items in daily diet so that your child gets used to the food
  • Bind your child: Encourage your child to sit and perform any activity for a fixed time during the day. Again, start small. Start with a 10 minute activity like tearing paper or painting. Slowly increase time
  • Together, to the school: Ensure you visit the school with him multiple times so that he knows he can trust the place and the people there and not worry about things like potty and peeing in school

Naps and meals are the two most important items in the daily schedule, so get these two right before you move on to play and activity times.
Be consistent

How Will My Life Change?

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or working mom, preschool would change your life too! If you are a SAHM, congratulations – you now get at least 2-3 hours to finish your household chores. If you are a working mom, congratulations – you also get few more productive hours when you know your child is well taken care of. That said, your daily schedule is also bound to change. For instance,

  1. If your child’s school does not provide meals, you might have to wake up earlier to prepare snack and lunch boxes for your child
  2. If your child’s school does not provide transport options, you need to change your work (office or home) timings to pick your child up
  3. If you are starting work after a break, and have no support system at home, you have to make alternate arrangements for days when your child does not go to school

Even after all these efforts, your child might still cry when he goes to preschool, mind you. However, he wouldn’t be crying because he is not getting his meals or naps on time! Establishing a routine help them transition to school faster as they are mentally more prepared on what to expect during the day. And that is progress! ?

Responses (1)

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Jan 18, 2016

Very usefull piece of information. I totally agree to this and insist every parent to go through this article



Jan 18, 2016

Very usefull piece of information. I totally agree to this and insist every parent to go through this article

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