Settling in at preschool means a new routine for your child – and for you. Our practical checklist takes you through signing in and out of preschool, as well as clothing, food, medications, safety considerations and more.
Preschools have rules and routines to help things run smoothly, keep children safe and make sure children have enjoyable, stimulating experiences that support their early development.
Here’s an A-Z checklist of what you can expect at preschool, which can help you and your child settle in.
Arriving at preschool and going home
State and territory regulations say you must write your child’s name and arrival time in a special book when you drop your child off at preschool. You also need to sign to say that you’ve picked up your child and at what time.
If someone else is picking up your child from preschool, you need to let the preschool know, usually in writing.
Clothes for preschool
Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that let your child move freely are best for preschool. It’s also a good idea to send your child in clothes that are OK to get dirty. Pants with elastic waists are a good option because they make it easier for your child to go to the toilet. You could also help your child learn to handle zips and buttons.
Your preschool’s educational philosophy will be outlined in its information booklet or website. Details of the educational program might be displayed in the building, and you can talk about it more with staff. You might also get a regular newsletter keeping you up to date with the current program.
Fees and the way they’re collected will vary from preschool to preschool. It’s a good idea to ask about your preschool’s policy ahead of time. If paying fees is a problem for you, let the preschool know so it can help to link you with financial support or to arrange payment options.
Many preschools have policies to reduce the risk of children having allergic reactions – for example, ‘no food sharing’ policies. Or you might be asked not to send foods that contain the most common allergens. This information is usually in the preschool’s information booklet or on its website.
It’s important to let the preschool know if your child is allergic to anything.
Preschools must keep a formal written record of any medication your child needs while at preschool. You’ll need to provide a medication authority form for this.
In some states, you need to provide evidence of your child’s immunisation status for preschool enrolment. You can read more about this in our article on immunisation in childhood
Preschools rely on parents helping out. If you can help out, there are lots of opportunities to take part in the day-to-day activities or to be involved with preschool management.
Your preschool will have policies on all issues, including things like behaviour management, bullying, asthma, allergies and dispute resolution. All policies should be in the preschool’s information booklet, on its website and/or on display in the preschool.
Most of the time things go smoothly at preschool, but sometimes you might have concerns or issues. It’s a good idea to speak with preschool staff if any problems come up. Working things out quickly can prevent bigger issues.
All preschools have safety rules. To keep your child safe, it’s important for you to get to know these rules and follow them. The rules will include:
- who has permission to collect your child
- any out-of-bounds areas for children
- traffic issues like parking
- emergency response drills.
If your child is sick, it’s best to keep him at home where he’ll be more comfortable and won’t pass germs on to other children. If your child has an infectious illness – for example, whooping cough, school sores or chickenpox – it’s a good idea to let your preschool know so the staff can tell other parents.
Head lice are a common issue for children at this age. If your child has head lice, it’s best to tell the preschool and keep your child at home until you’ve got rid of the lice.
Your child needs to take a hat to preschool so she’s safe when playing outside in the sun. It’s also a very good idea to get in the habit of putting sunscreen on your child at home before preschool.
Toys from home
Each preschool has its own policy on whether children can bring toys from home. It’s best to check before your child packs his favourite teddy in his bag.