5 Back to (Pre)School Tips For Parents

Getting ready for Back To (Pre)School time can be overwhelming – for children, educators, and for parents, too! But don’t fret, CubbySpot’s got these five great tips that will help make your preschooler’s transition into school much, much smoother.

1) Start a School Routine ASAP

Inevitably, we tend to slip into a late schedule over the summertime, going to bed at a later time and sleeping in ’til the cows come home. It’s important to establish a school routine as soon as possible. Luckily, children readily adopt routines, often thriving on them.

Try to get your preschooler(s) up and at’em in the morning at a regular preschool-friendly time every day. Of course, this also means getting your little one to sleep at a set time as well. Ideally, you’ll be setting this routine at least a couple of weeks before preschool starts. Regular morning and evening routines help their little bodies get accustomed to preschool hours.

2) Read Books About School And Then Talk About It

Use this opportunity to have fun and bond with your preschooler as they learn about all of the amazing things they’re going to do in class. There are tons of books you can purchase, or borrow from the library, about getting ready for this huge adventure. Or, you can even create books about going to preschool at home with your child.

Most assuredly, this will all initiate a discussion, so listen to your preschooler’s questions and concerns. Remind them of all the new friends they will make and the endless fun they will have.

3) Bring Your Preschooler in to See Their New Classroom and Teacher

Parents, this is something you will not want to overlook. Perhaps your child will not be new to this preschool, but a new year often means a new teacher and a new classroom… and that’s plenty to be anxious about! If there’s an orientation day or a Meet The Teachers Night, bring your preschooler in to visit.  Should there be a scheduling conflict, ask a family member or grandparent to take them. In doing so, your preschooler will start the year off with less anxiety and a lot more self-confidence.

4) Going Back-To-(Pre)School Means Dealing With Conflicting Emotions

Back to School time, more often than not, means dealing with separation anxiety. Trust me, it’s not just the kids dealing with separation, it’s the parents too! Parents, this is 100% normal. Luckily, this list of tips will help ease the transition and anxiety.  Parents may want to think about reading about separation anxiety and possible solutions to reduce the stress that comes with it.

5) Remember to Have Some Family Fun

These tips will certainly help you start preschool off on the right foot, but one thing’s for sure, having family fun time is something that will minimize all forms of preschool panic. Religiously maintain your family fun time, be it weekly or monthly times that are set aside. This also goes for your typical nightly sleep rituals as this routine is something that helps kids relax. Reading books together, sharing supper together, going to the park together for a picnic— these are all wonderful ways to connect with your growing preschooler.

5 Activities to Help Preschoolers Spell their Names

For many preschoolers, there’s nothing quite as amazing as learning how to write their name. Teachers may notice some early preschool learners that are already familiar with letters, writing, and what their name looks like written down. The next step for the class as a whole would be to learn how to identify the letters in their name and how to spell them out.

Here are five awesome activities that preschool teachers may enjoy trying with their students:

1) Learning Names with Necklaces

Preschoolers will enjoy being able to design and create their own name necklaces as they start to get comfortable with the letters of the alphabet. Teachers can provide their kids with different colored string, yarn, shoelaces, or cord that has already been pre-cut for this activity. Use these colorful ties to help them string together the letters of their name, forming a name necklace. This is a wonderful way to help preschoolers learn how to spell their name and to develop fine motor coordination, color recognition, and sequencing skills.

2) Learning Names with Stamps

Kids will be delighted about working with alphabet stamps, because, really, what kid isn’t?! Using stamps helps to reinforce their letter recognition and to become more familiar with how to spell their name. To spice things up, teachers can use various alphabet text stamps, as well as different colored ink and paper. Teachers can write out the child’s name on their chosen paper in large letters. Then, preschoolers can copy the letters in the name (in order) with the stamps.

3) Learning Names with Puzzles

This is a fun and simple way to show preschoolers their name so they can familiarize themselves with its spelling. Teachers write out the name in large letters in a thick text, as with a wide marker, on a piece of cardboard paper. Then, teachers would cut out the letters. Children will love piecing their mini name puzzle back together, all the while learning the correct spelling and letter sequence of their name.

4) Learning Names with Strips

Preschoolers enjoy playing matching games. This is particularly true when it ends up being a personalized matching game with their name on it. Begin by creating sentence strips with each child’s name written on them. Then, teachers help their kids play the name matching game by using ready-made alphabet stickers. The children would need to search for, find, and affix the corresponding letter sticker onto the matching sentence strip letter.

5) Learning Names with Fingers

Did you know that finger puppets can make learning even more fun? Children can use alphabet finger puppets to practice spelling out their name. All they have to do is place each finger puppet letter of their name on their fingers in order. They’ll have a great time all while being engaged in the process of letter recognition, pronunciation, spelling, and possibly even a little bit of dramatic play involving their hands.


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Gettin’ Messy! Messy Play in a Preschool Environment

Why is “messy play” such an integral part of early childhood education? Aside from offering children ample opportunities for learning, it fosters personal, intellectual, communication and language development, and, in a preschool setting, is a wonderful chance to encourage social and physical growth.

Communication and Language Development

While enjoying messy play time, children will have many opportunities to listen and speak with their fellow classmates. They will learn that they can use their words and hand gestures to share classroom materials, explain what they wish to do, negotiate and plan to play, and take turns during messy play time.

Physical Development

With messy play, kids are given the tools required to develop and practice eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. Activities that develop eye-hand coordination, like stacking, spooning, or pouring, can be encouraged with water or sand play. While fine motor skills are further developed with activities such as practicing cutting paper, writing or drawing with shaving cream, or by using tongs to pick up objects. Tactile activities will give children the chance to become hands-on and compare textures such as soft and hard, and smooth and rough.

Personal, Emotional and Social Development

Messy Play is developed around children’s natural curiosity and tendency to question the world around them. It advocates a positive approach to new learning experiences. When it comes down to it, there is no “right” way for kids to do messy play, and this in itself is a real self-esteem and self-confidence booster. While having fun with messy play, children develop their concentration levels and increase their problem-solving abilities. Furthermore, working with other kids helps them learn about respect, self-respect, and encourages classroom friendship.

Creative Development

Messy play gives children the limitless opportunity to build their creativity and imagination with a wide array of materials. They can respond to what they feel, touch, hear, see, and smell, all through these sensory experiences. Children can also express how they feel through color, shapes, forms, and texture in two and three dimensions.

Intellectual Development

Through messy play, children end up with a better understanding of the world around them when they explore, create, investigate, and design with materials such as paint, sand, or crafting supplies. They will naturally learn to group items together and classify objects, organically arranging the items they’re using in a logical order. While they play in this manner, they’ll learn to identify, match, and understand cause and effect.

Messy play can benefit all children when used as an inclusive technique to group together kids of varying ability levels. Moreover, messy play is beneficial for children who are learning English as a second language since this type of play does not rely on words. As mentioned before, there is no “right” way to play, so children with special needs can also play, in their own manner and at their own pace, and still be a part of the classroom.

Teaching Kids About Community and Community Helpers

As preschoolers learn about the communities that surround them, their neighborhood becomes a much broader setting. Suddenly, they begin to think about it as a place where they live as a member. A place where they can make a difference.

My Preschool Buddies and Me: We’re Part of a Community!

At the preschool level, children are rapidly developing social skills and quickly learning that the people around them in their neighborhood, from the butcher to the baker, and, yes, even the candlestick maker, may have some importance in their lives. This understanding is what we all refer to as a “sense of community.” Therefore, teaching kids about communities and community helpers, those invaluable people in your neighborhood, will help them expand their social repertoire and better understand where they live, how everyone interconnects, and what’s going on around them.

Part One: What is a “Community?”

If the thought of teaching your classroom about the broad concept of communities seems quite the daunting task, don’t fret! Why not start with these activities?

1) Start at Home with Family

Start out simple. When it comes to the idea of a community, what “group of people” could kids draw from and associate with right off the bat? It’s their family. You can examine how each member of their family is similar, yet, still different. Dad might love steak while Mom doesn’t eat meat. Big Sister loves soccer while Little Brother hates it.

2) Expand on the Idea of Community

Now, move further out to another level of community that children can easily visualize: their block or neighborhood. You can have the kids make a list of services that link their neighborhood community together. This list could include libraries, community pools, local schools, and places of worship.

3) Have the Kids Design a Map

Take the class on a walk around the school block. Have them bring along papers or notebooks to draw out what they see. Once you’re all back inside, draw out a map using a large poster board and crayons. Hang it up in the classroom and slowly add to it with every walk your class enjoys.

4) We Are All Part of a Greater Whole

Remind your preschoolers that their neighborhood community is not the only one out there. Bringing in various maps, world atlases and taking out library books on different cultures are some of the ways you can help little minds to broaden their perspective of communities.

Part Two: What is a “Community Helper?”

Who are the people who make your neighborhood a better place? What occupations exist within a community that makes neighborhood households run a bit more smoothly? The police keep our communities safe, teachers help students learn, nurses and doctors help people stay healthy, postal workers deliver mail and parcels- it is these professions that directly impact our neighborhood. These invaluable individuals are known as community helpers.

Try these fun activities with your classroom to better convey the importance of community helpers!

1) Ask Community Helpers for an Interview or Presentation

Ask a community helper, such as a police officer, firefighter, paramedic, or postal worker, to come in for a visit. Before they arrive, have the kids come up with a list of questions to ask. Questions like: What does that helper do? What does their usual day entail? What training did they undergo for their position?

2) Let’s Play a Game: Community Charades

Write the names of different community helpers, such as veterinarian, firefighter, paramedic, police officer, dentist, doctor, butcher, sanitation and recycling worker, mayor, and letter carrier, on some index cards. Glue on some pictures to illustrate the helpers so as to help emerging readers understand the cards. Shuffle them up, place them into a box, and have the children take turns to pull a card out, and then have them act out the community helper they selected. Their classmates will have fun guessing who is on the card! Afterward, spend some time discussing what that helper does and why their job is meaningful in the community.

3) Raise Community Awareness Through Volunteer Work

Why not have the class do some (easy) community work? You can have the kids join in a neighborhood spring cleanup or help to raise awareness for an important local issue (like school funding). Another option could be to organize a fundraiser, such as a bake sale or weekend schoolyard sale, and donate the profits to a local charity or organization.

Enhance Learning With Dramatic Play

Dramatic play is known as a make-believe activity where children assign and accept roles, to then act them out. It’s a fun time for them where they use their creativity and imagination to pretend to be someone or something else. They dramatize their actions and place themselves into situations that go along with the roles they have decided to play.

Truth be told, this type of play is often considered to be more of a frivolous activity by some. Yet, enabling kids to develop such skills in areas like social studies, abstract thinking, literacy, and math, remains an essential part of the developmental learning process.

An Essential Learning Environment

When we watch kids play, we witness how they smoothly reinvent scenes that would typically take place in life like in a department store, a gas station, a library, a construction site, or even a classroom. This shows us that, to reach the fullest potential of dramatic play with regards to learning, daycare and preschool educators must “set the stage” throughout their classroom(s).

How Do Educators “Set the Stage” for Dramatic Play?

Dramatic play areas need to be inviting to children. The presentation of the area needs to inspire creativity and imagination. It should be a designated area where kids can instantly become someone else.

What is a Dramatic Play Skill Set?

There are five main skills that children enlist and further develop as they act out dramatic play experiences.

1) Role Playing:

Here, children use verbal expressions and mimic behaviors of whatever they are pretending to be. In the beginning, they will only imitate one action, perhaps two. But, the more they participate in dramatic play, the more they will expand those roles by imagining several actions that are relevant to their designated role.

2) Prop Use:

Children can elaborate or extend on their play, all by including objects into their pretend play. At first, they’ll usually rely on realistic, looks-just-like-it’s-suppossed-to, props. Then, they’ll move on to prop substitution, for instance, using a scarf to represent a watering hose, and then progress to “mime actions” or holding their empty hands in a certain manner to show that they are (pretending) to hold a “real” hose.

3) Make-Believe/Pretend Play:

Dramatic play is, essentially, playing make-believe. Kids take on a role, pretending to be a father, fireman, racecar driver, and so on, by emulating movements and actions they have witnessed before. Once they start to use dramatic play more and more, kids will then start to incorporate words to enhance their re-enactments. Sometimes, children even engage in a deeper, fantasy-like play, where the stories and situations they come up with are not based on reality.

4) Interaction and Social Skills:

The beauty of dramatic play is that it promotes the development of social skills. They acquire these social skills through the interaction with family, friends, and playmates. As children learn valuable social skills and increase that development through dramatic play, they will learn to adapt to pretending to play alone within scenarios, to pretend play that involves other children. In this last instance, children will play various roles and relate to each other from the viewpoint of their assigned roles.

5) Communication:

Dramatic play, without a doubt, promotes speaking, vocalization, and listening skills. When kids partake in dramatic play, they repeat words they have heard people say in similar situations and recognize that they have to listen to everyone one else to be able to respond appropriately. Additionally, it teaches them to pick their words carefully, so other children will understand precisely what it is they are striving to communicate.