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Toddler Years

Preparing for Preschool: 10 Tips for a Smooth Transition

By Pehr
Aug 03, 2023

In the year or two before your little one starts kindergarten, preschool can be a stepping stone to help toddlers adjust to this big change. The transition to daycare is an exciting time - they’ll learn to share and play with peers as well as academic steps to get them ready for learning in a classroom environment. Here are our top 10 starting preschool tips to get your little one ready to spread their wings!

toddler in french terry sweatshirt and jogger
French Terry Sweatshirt & Jogger

10 Tips For a Smooth Transition to Daycare

If your little is ready to transition to daycare or a preschool environment for the first time, it’s a major adjustment for toddlers to spend time away from their caregivers. Read on for our top 10 starting preschool tips to make the transition to daycare, nursery or preschool a smooth one: 

  1. Calm your little one’s fears. Introduce the idea of a transition to daycare or preschool in the weeks leading up to their first day. Tell them where they’ll be going, what their teacher is like and the activities they’ll do there. 
  2. Visit the preschool. A tour to meet their teacher and get comfortable with the classroom or attending an open house will make it less intimidating. You could also plan a playdate with one of their classmates before the first day!
  3. Introduce classroom routines at home. If you know the daily schedule ahead of time, start following it at home. Nap time might need to shift (maybe it’s time to transition to a toddler bed too), bedtime will probably be earlier and the meals offered at preschool could be new to them. 
  4. Ask questions. Ask about the diapering and potty training policy so you can prepare your little one. What is the best way to approach the first day jitters at their age? Do they recommend parents make goodbyes quick or can you stick around to shadow on the first day? 
  5. Be enthusiastic about the transition to daycare or preschool. Instead of pressure to be a “big kid”, focus on how much fun they’re going to have. Remind your little one it’s totally normal to have some nerves but they’ll adjust quickly!
  6. Know what to pack for daycare. Have them pick out their own backpack and send along their lovey and something of yours that reminds them you’re always connected. Pack a pouch to keep back-up clothing organized so they’re ready for every condition (a sun hat, sweatshirt, rain jacket, boots, running shoes, socks, tops, pajamas, shorts and pants!). 
  7. Read books about preschool. Talk about what the characters are feeling and ask about their feelings. Visit the local library for storytime to get them comfortable with someone new reading to them in a group environment.  
  8. Pretend play. One of the most useful starting preschool tips is to play out how the first day will go. Acting out scenarios like saying goodbye and circle time is one of the ways toddlers process big feelings. 
  9. Make a new family schedule. You may need to figure out a new commute, decide who will pick up and drop off, and change meal time and dinner prep. Your family’s daily schedule could change so prepare ahead of time where you can!
  10. Tell stories about your experience. Show your little pictures of you when you were preparing to transition to daycare or preschool. Explain how you felt beforehand and what you loved about school at their age. 

French Terry Vest & Dropped Shoulder Long Sleeve T-Shirt
French Terry Vest & Dropped Shoulder Long Sleeve


It can be emotional to send your little one off into the world on their own. Talk to them about their day when you pick them up, notice how they are building new relationships, and comment on the exciting skills they get to explore now that they’re at preschool. Whether your little one is reluctant to leave you or eager to transition to daycare, we hope these starting preschool tips inspire you to plan and prepare.

Frequently Asked Questions

They are both forms of early childhood education. Daycare usually refers to infant care up to age 2 whereas preschool caters to 2-5 year olds preparing for kindergarten. Daycare centers are usually less structured and focus on socializing children while preschool also has a curriculum to help prepare them academically.

It depends on the individual child, their temperament and personality. You may want to try a part-time or half day program to make the transition to daycare or preschool easier on them. With the right support, most kids adjust in a few weeks.

They’ll be ready to start preschool anywhere between 1.5 and 3 years old. Kids must have enough language skills to be able to express themselves so a teacher can understand their feelings and needs.

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