Follow these steps to make your child’s move to preschool fun and easy.

Is your child ready to take the big step into preschool? As a parent or primary caregiver, are you ready to help your child with this exciting yet potentially stressful experience? Below are several things that will help prepare your child and make the transition a bit easier.

Talk about it

Explain to your child the types of things that he or she might expect in preschool, including the activities they may participate in like crafts and story time, the teachers they will have and the new friends they will make. Also, give them an idea of the routine that takes place and remind them that you will be coming to get them at the end of each day. Once your child has actually started preschool, continue to talk with them about their day, the friends they have made, activities they enjoy and the things that might be difficult for them.

Read about it

There are a number of books and stories that deal with topics such as the preschool experience, transitioning, saying “good bye,” making friends and more. This is a great way to get your child interested in reading and prepare them for those reading sessions in their new school. Visit the children’s section of your local library to find a great selection of helpful books.

Visit the program

After you have made the decision to enroll your child in a preschool program, make time to take your child to visit so they can get acquainted with the program, routine, teachers and other children. You will probably want to stay with them initially, but if the program allows you may consider leaving your child for a short period of time before their first day without you. Some other questions the parent should ask include: What does the facility do when your child gets sick or injured? Are there rules for parent visitation during the day? How do they help a child experiencing separation anxiety?

Get in a routine

Establish solid bedtime and morning routines to help your child adjust to this new stage in their life. Routines help develop a sense of assurance and confidence, and adequate rest and proper nutrition are essential to this adjustment. You may also want to come up with your own personal touches like singing certain songs on the way to school or getting a special breakfast at the end of the week.

Encourage independence

As your child is away from you during the day, there is a need for them to learn to do more things on their own. A 3- or 4-year-old can assume some basic responsibilities related to self-care such as putting on simple items of clothing or washing their hands. As they accomplish one task, encourage them to work on a new one. Also find out what expectations the classroom teacher has so that you can work on similar goals at home.

Finally, be patient with both yourself and your child. Stay upbeat and positive as both of you settle into a new routine.

Laura Bloom, Ph.D., received her degree from The University of Alabama at Birmingham and has 28 years of professional experience in the child care and nonprofit arenas. Dr. Bloom is an Assistant Professor at The University of Alabama in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. She teaches methods courses that prepare students to work with young children and families in the preschool setting, concentrating on early childhood development.