3 Practical, Non-Academic Ways to Prepare Your Child For Preschool

Many years ago, about a month after my second-born went off to preschool, I discovered that she hadn’t quite been ready. Oops. She did have a speech delay and was in speech therapy at the time, but I didn’t realize how much that had affected other areas she’d need to have mastered before she could really do well in a classroom. Soon, I took her out of that school and sent her to one where the class was half “typical” kids and half kids with delays, and she did much better there. Nevertheless, I could have prepared her better for a regular classroom if I had been consistent in the months before she started with practicing some simple preschool activities. Here are a few suggested preschool activities for you to do with your child before they start preschool this fall.

Preschool Activities to Do at Home With Your Child

These may seem overly simple, but especially if your child isn’t four yet, these preschool activities based mostly on communication needs will help get them ready to respond to their peers and teachers.

1) First and Then Game

“First and Then” is one of my favorite preschool activities to get your child ready for school. It is a little game to teach your child to follow two-step directions. Their preschool teacher will likely have them doing craft or coloring activities that require following simple steps (“First color the shapes and THEN cut them out,” etc.), and there will likely be two-step directions to transition between activities (washing hands, too!). Playing “first and then” will get your child used to following directions with more than one step. Here’s how you play:

  • Write or print some two-step directions on slips of paper and put them in a bowl or jar. The directions should say things like “First, jump up and down, then touch your nose.” or “First, give Mommy a kiss, then go down the slide.”
  • Get with your child in an indoor or outdoor space with plenty of room
  • You and your child take turns drawing slips of paper from the jar. Read the two-step directions for your child and have him or her follow them. When it’s your turn, do the same.
  • Use super silly directions like “First, make a silly face, then bark like a dog!” to make the game more fun.

The more you play this easy little “First and then” game, the faster your kiddo will learn to follow directions. If they are getting really good at following two-step directions, add in a third step for an extra challenge.

2) Sensory Play

One of the best preschool activities you can do with your child is sensory play. This isn’t just one activity, but multiple different ones. The object of the activity: let your child get messy and play with their hands. Go outside and dig in the dirt and in the sandbox. Let them bury and dig out toys from a bin full of rice and beans. Have them fingerpaint or paint with shaving cream. Make slime (eew I know), play with putty and play-doh, etc. Getting those hands messy and used to different textures will help your kiddo learn from the world around them, and get them 100% ready for all the messy learning activities they will encounter in preschool. Preschool aged kids learn a LOT through their sense of touch, and a child who refuses to get his or her hands wet, dirty, or messy is going to have a hard time enjoying preschool activities in a classroom setting.

preschool activities

3) Read your child books about preschool

Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson
Jenny is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor.

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