Preparing Your Child for the ELC


Expectations for ELC Preschool & Kindergarten Students

ELC children enter NIS with a wide range of developmental capabilities in each area (social, small- and gross-motor, linguistic, literacy, etc.) and each family has different ideas about what to expect at school, and what might be expected of them. In hopes of making your child’s transition to the NIS ELC a little easier we have compiled a list of suggestions for families to keep in mind and prepare for the beginning of school at NIS.


Quick Check-List

Before entering the ELC your child should be able to:

  • Feed themselves with a fork, spoon or chopsticks
  • Put away toys and materials
  • Wash their hands
  • Brush their teeth
  • Blow their nose
  • Put on and take off a coat
  • Use the toilet independently (a must!)
  • Manage their clothing
  • Share materials
  • Put on and take off their shoes without help
  • Let a teacher know when there is a problem
  • Sit cross-legged with their hands in their laps


We understand that accidents happen, zippers can sometimes be difficult, and routines hard to get down.  Three-year old children are still mastering these skills, and often need help, reminders and assistance from ELC staff, which we are happy to give with loving care.  However, being able to do these things before arrival will help your child feel confident and relaxed in their new environment.


Plan more social activities

All preschool children have to get along with other children. If your child hasn't spent much time in a group with other children, then activities such as sharing, taking turns, and playing cooperatively can be very difficult. Help your child get used to being part of a group by arranging play dates with one or two peers or enrolling him in a music or tumbling class.


Give them a sense of what to expect

It's the rare child who isn't at least a little anxious about starting preschool. Resist the temptation of saying things like, "It'll be the most fun you've ever had," or "There's nothing to be afraid of."  Never belittle your child's fears or concerns. Instead, help calm their fears with information. Talk about what to expect when arriving at school — routines, activities, etc.


Getting ready to say goodbye

If this is the first time your child will be away from you, she may worry that you're not coming back, or that you'll get lost and won't be able to find your way back to the school to pick her up at the end of the day. Invent a special parting ritual — such as a high-five, or saying something like, "I'll be back to get you soon, long before we see the moon." — that you do each time you drop her off.

During the first few days after enrollment, allow extra time to get her ready and out the door in the morning, too. The more calm things are at home, the easier the separation will be. Though you might be tempted to sneak out without so much as a wave when you drop her off, don't do it. She will only be more distressed when she realizes you're gone. Instead, make a point of saying good-bye. Don't drag it out or let on that you might be upset, too. Just do it matter-of-factly and confidently and she'll learn to do the same.  If your child is in tears, a caregiver will hold and comfort her and try to e-mail you a picture once your child has recovered enough to be happy and engaged.

It is important to remember that children take their cues from their caregivers. If they see you are upset, this will only intensify their fear. If they see you are happy about their newfound independence, this will help to build their self-confidence.


Eating and Drinking

By three years old, your child should be able to handle a fork and spoon with some dexterity.  If they are not yet independent eaters, please begin expecting them to feed themselves at mealtimes.

Your child's fine motor skills are still developing, so opening plastic containers or sandwich bags can easily turn into a frustrating battle.  Avoid mealtime meltdowns by running through a few "practice" school lunches at home. You'll learn what he can't open and have time to rethink your packing technique. 

Your child will also be bringing a drink bottle to school with them everyday.  Please help them practice opening and closing the drink bottle so that they can manage it independently.


Clothing and other belongings

In the ELC, there are many transitions that your child will be expected to manage independently.  Changing shoes is something that your child should be able to do on their own and fairly quickly.  Having a pair of indoor shoes at home that your child changes into when she comes inside will make this routine easy and stress free when she comes to school.  The winter months also sneak up quickly.  Please help your child practice managing their coats, gloves and hats independently.  Putting on, taking off, zipping, and unzipping should be practiced at home so that they do not feel stressed and frustrated when they transition between outdoor and indoor times.

Your child will also have a cubby, and a hook where they will be expected to keep their articles of clothing.  Please also expect your child to put away their things at home as well.  It can be confusing to children if they are allowed to drop their clothing anywhere at home, and then are expected to stay organized at school.

The same goes for toys.  Please help empower your child be expecting them to put away their own toys and materials when they have finished an activity. 

Active and healthy children run, jump, fall, splash, dig and paint.  Please make sure that your child has a wardrobe of flexible, non-restrictive clothing and shoes that can be run in safely. 

Also, 3-5 year olds have small bladders and an urgent need to use the restroom can come up suddenly.  Please make sure your child can easily and quickly remove their pants, leggings, and underwear.  Layers, while cute, can be impeding, as can complex buckles and buttons.



In the ELC, we expect children to wash their hands with soap before mealtimes and after using the bathroom.  Please also enforce this at home, so that they are prepared.  At first they will need guidance in how to use soap and lather their hands for the appropriate amount of time (at least 20 seconds – we’ve found singing the “happy birthday” song is a good way to measure this time). 

After lunch, children are expected to brush their teeth independently.  If they are not already able, please teach them how to put the appropriate amount of toothpaste on, brush, and then rinse.  The more practice they get, the better.

Three year olds should also be able to manage to keep their face clean.  We expect them to be able to blow and clean out their nose with a tissue and keep their fingers out of their mouths.