Setting the Stage for Success: The Birth to 5 Guide for Getting Ready for School

From the moment your child is born, they embark on an incredible journey of growth and development. These early years lay the foundation for their future success in school and beyond. It’s crucial to focus on their overall development during this period. Encourage exploration, provide a nurturing environment, and stimulate their senses to help them develop physically, emotionally, and cognitively.


During this stage, engage in activities that promote fine and gross motor skills, such as playing with building blocks, drawing, and crawling. Regularly interact with your child through talking, singing, and reading aloud to foster language development. These early experiences will provide them with a strong basis for language, communication, and problem-solving skills, setting them up for success when they enter the school system.

Fostering a Love for Learning: Creating an Enriching Home Environment

One of the best ways to prepare your child for school is by cultivating a love for learning at home. Make your home an environment that stimulates curiosity and exploration. Create a designated learning space with age-appropriate books, puzzles, and educational toys. Encourage imaginative play and provide opportunities for hands-on activities that promote problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Additionally, establish daily routines that include reading time, art projects, and interactive play. Incorporate educational games and apps into screen time, ensuring they are both engaging and educational. By creating an environment that values and supports learning, you’re fostering a positive attitude towards education, making the transition to school smoother and more enjoyable for your child.

Developing Essential Skills: Encouraging Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Growth


School success goes beyond academic achievements. It’s important to nurture your child’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills as well. Encourage positive interactions with peers through playdates, community events, or joining parent-child groups. These experiences help children develop crucial social skills like sharing, taking turns, and empathy, which are essential for school life.


Emotional development is equally important. Teach your child how to express their feelings and emotions constructively. Help them develop resilience and problem-solving skills to cope with challenges they may encounter in school. Encourage a growth mindset, emphasizing the importance of effort, perseverance, and learning from mistakes.


Cognitive development can be supported through activities that enhance memory, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Engage in age-appropriate puzzles, memory games, and storytelling sessions to stimulate their cognitive abilities. By focusing on these holistic aspects of development, your child will be better equipped to navigate the social and academic demands of school life.

Partnering with Preschool: Choosing the Right Early Education Program


Preschool plays a vital role in your child’s early educational journey. Research and choose a preschool program that aligns with your educational values and goals. Look for programs that emphasize play-based learning, individualized attention, and a nurturing environment.


Southwest Human Development’s free Early Head Start and Head Start programs are a great place to start.  

The programs are designed to fulfill the early learning, health and family well-being needs of young children and their families.  Immediate openings are now available for eligible families in Phoenix.


Children who participate in Early Head Start and Head Start gain access to a welcoming, high-quality learning environment, highly-trained staff and low child-to-teacher ratios. The programs also provide participants with health and development screenings, nutritious meals and snacks, dental and mental health support, and other related services.



When evaluating a preschool, speak with teachers, and observe classroom dynamics. Inquire about their curriculum, teaching methods, and the opportunities provided for social and emotional development. Ensure that the preschool prioritizes open communication between teachers and parents, as this partnership is crucial for your child’s growth.



Once you’ve selected a preschool, help your child adjust by gradually introducing them to the school environment. Arrange playdates with future classmates, read books about starting school, and discuss the exciting experiences they will have. By preparing your child for this transition, you can help alleviate any anxieties they may have and instill a positive attitude towards their upcoming school journey.

Smooth Transition: Preparing Your Child for the First Day of School


As the first day of school approaches, there are several steps you can take to ensure a smooth transition for your child:


  • Establish a consistent routine: Start waking up and going to bed at school-appropriate times a few weeks before school begins. This helps your child adjust to the new schedule.
  • Visit the school together: Take your child to visit the school, meet their teacher, and explore the classrooms and playground. Familiarize them with their new environment to reduce anxiety.
  • Talk about school: Discuss the excitement and opportunities that await them at school. Answer any questions they have and address any concerns they may express.
  • Practice independence: Encourage self-help skills like dressing, using the bathroom, and packing their backpack. This fosters independence and builds their confidence in handling school-related tasks.
  • Establish a goodbye routine: Create a consistent goodbye ritual that helps your child feel secure and loved. This could be a special hug, a high-five, or a goodbye phrase that reassures them of your return.

By taking these steps, you can ensure your child feels prepared, supported, and excited for their first day of school, setting them up for a successful and enjoyable educational journey.

Remember, each child is unique, and their development progresses at their own pace. Be patient, supportive, and adaptable in your approach, understanding that nurturing their overall growth during these early years is key to preparing them for the challenges and triumphs they’ll experience in school.

One final tip:  the early child development experts at Southwest Human Development are here to help at every step of your journey.  Our Birth to Five Helpline offers 24/7, with live operators available from 8am to 8pm weekdays along with options to leave a voicemail, submit an on-line contact form or text the Helpline 24/7.  Virtual video consultation services are also available.   

All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.