From playroom to classroom: Preparing toddlers for school through real-world play

Emmy Samtani

Emmy Samtani

Emmy is the founder of Kiindred and mother to 3 little ones. Over the last 4 years, she has worked with some of the most credible experts in the parenting space and is a keen contributor on all things parenthood.
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 5 mins read
From playroom to classroom: Preparing toddlers for school through real-world play

Sending our kids off to school is often marked with feelings of pride that our little humans are taking on a new challenge, sadness that they are growing up way too fast and, if we are super honest, a little bit of relief too that we survived the toddler and preschooler years!

It’s not uncommon for the day our kids start school or even daycare to arrive in a way that feels unannounced, and for it to leave us wondering if our precious kiddos are really ready for the adventure ahead.

There are plenty of ways that we can help our children feel more prepared for starting school or daycare, and also to help them develop essential life skills, social interaction, and emotional intelligence. It might sound a bit overwhelming but the great news is that play is a really powerful way to achieve this. That’s right, playtime can be a valuable tool for fostering skills that are fundamental for a smooth transition into school – which hopefully translates into fewer tears for your child.

You on the other hand, will still bawl your eyes out – sorry!

So, without further adieu, here are five ways to prepare toddlers for school through real-world play.

Role-play and pretend games

Encourage your toddler to engage in role-play and pretend games – and be sure to get involved too! This type of play can help them understand the dynamics of the real world and how different people behave within it.

Try setting up scenarios like playing shopping at the supermarket or going to the bank. This not only sparks creativity but also helps them develop social and emotional skills by sharing, taking turns, and understanding different roles. Through these games, children learn the art of cooperation and negotiation, which come in very handy in a school setting.

The joy of toys

Just like with role-playing, finding toys that develop social and emotional skills are a great way to get our kids ready for the world of daycare and school.

The LEGO® DUPLO® Life At The Day Nursery set is a fantastic (and really fun!) way to introduce kids to the concept of daycare, or can help them recreate moments if they already attend.

The set offers plenty of opportunity for creative play and allows parents and kids to act out social scenarios just like at a real daycare.

The Life At The Day Nursery set is also great for getting kids used to routines – such as washing their hands – thanks to fun features like the little bathroom that comes complete with toilet and sink.

Another fab feature of the LEGO DUPLO Life At The Day Nursery set is that it introduces the concept of empathy, diversity and inclusion as kids can act out scenarios where the children at daycare interact. The wheelchair user can also whizz down the ramp to join their friends zooming round the yard on the scooter.

And, as if that wasn’t enough to make you want to rush out and buy one, the set also teaches kids about numbers and colours and helps them to hone their motor skills too.


Get outside!

Outdoor play is a fantastic way to introduce children to the natural world and stimulate their curiosity. By taking them to parks, nature reserves, or even exploring your own backyard, you can  encourage them to explore, observe insects and animals. This, in turn, can start to foster a love for nature (which will hopefully blossom into a desire to protect it!) and teach the idea of empathy which is super important in a daycare or school setting.

Oh, and here’s a bonus – outdoor play is also excellent for building physical strength and coordination, which can set them up for success when they start to engage in physical activities at school.

Community engagement

Another great way to help your child prepare for daycare or school is to Involve them in community activities to build their understanding of the world beyond the home. This could look like visiting local businesses, participating in charity events, or even gardening in a community garden. This exposure to the community teaches them about social responsibility, empathy, and the value of helping others – all of which are crucial aspects of character education that will serve them well in school as they interact with teachers, peers, and staff. Plus, it’s a great feeling to get involved and do good things.

Give that library card a work out

Aside from the obvious benefits of learning to read, regular visits to the library can also foster a love of storytelling. Encourage your child to pick out their favourite books, and then, take some time to read together. Allow them to ask questions, discuss the story, and even create their stories. Additionally, ask them questions about the book as well to give them the chance to share their opinions and what they have taken away from the story.

Storytelling and reading age-appropriate books together not only enhances their language skills but also encourages imaginative thinking which are key skills to have when it comes to  paying attention to details, listening and sharing their thoughts in a classroom environment.


So, as you’ve gathered, preparing toddlers for school or daycare really goes beyond academic readiness. Equipping them with real-world skills and fostering their emotional and social intelligence is just as important to help them thrive.

Through real-world play – whether it’s at the library or at home with the LEGO DUPLO Life At The Day Nursery set, children can develop essential life and motor skills, confidence with social interaction, and emotional intelligence. As a parent, you have the power to shape your child’s early experiences and set them on a path to success in school and in life. So, don’t underestimate the power of play in your child’s development; it’s a powerful tool for preparing them for the exciting adventure ahead.

LEGO, LEGO DUPLO and the Minifigure are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2023 The LEGO Group.

This is a paid partnership between Kiindred and the LEGO DUPLO Brand.

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