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Summer is a Good Time to Prepare for Preschool

As we head into summer, school may be the last thing that parents and kids want to think about. But for those kids who'll be entering preschool this fall, the next few months offer a great opportunity to ensure a happy and successful start, experts say.

With a low-key, fun approach, getting your child ready for preschool can help alleviate fears and apprehension that both parents and kids may be experiencing.

Children are "bound to have a host of feelings about this transition, feeling proud to be a big kid but at the same time worried about being separated from you and starting something unfamiliar," says the Zero to Three website, which offers numerous tips to help ease the transition.

Lots of parenting websites offer advice on what to do to prepare. Scholastic's Parents website offers a Get-Ready timeline with steps to take about a month before preschool starts.

The main ideas? Start talking with your child about preschool, its routines and what to expect on the first day. That can go a long away toward turning fear into anticipation.

Zero to Three offers these ideas to help prepare for the transition this summer:

• Use pretend play to get used to the idea of preschool. You can pretend to be the teacher and act out with your child some common preschool routines, like circle time and having a snack.

• Make a game out of practicing self-help skills, like hanging up a coat, unzipping a backpack, and putting on shoes. Pack a lunch or snack and let your child practice unpacking while sitting at a table and then packing up again.

• Read books about preschool—it's a good way to explore your child's feelings. And visit the preschool a couple times if possible so things will be familiar on the first day.

The Scholastic Parents website also suggests reviewing school policies to find out what the preschool staff will do to help with the transition.

A last critical tip: About two weeks before school begins, start putting your child to bed at his or her school bedtime so the preschool schedule can become familiar and routine.

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