First Day of Preschool

Children going to school for the first time may suffer some separation anxiety. A few parents may feel the same apprehension, although they cope with it less dramatically. Reduce the trauma for both parent and child with some preparation for that first day of preschool.

Play School-Related Games

Children who become familiar with school rules before they reach a classroom feel more at ease with a preschool teacher. Use play materials that kids are likely to encounter in a classroom; construction paper and crayons feel less intimidating to a child who is used to them. Pretend to be a teacher in school games so that the child gets used to school-friendly behaviors. Children like to play at grown-up roles too, so switch places and let the child “teach” as well.

Meet the Teacher

If possible, arrange a meeting with the teacher in the classroom. Everyone is more at ease with familiar surroundings, and children are no exception. Shy children especially need an introduction while Mom or Dad is present. On the big day, parents can stave off a tearful goodbye by reintroducing the teacher and the classroom as familiar elements in the child’s life.

Stay Positive

Children are adept at reading their parents’ moods and behaving accordingly. Keep a cheerful attitude and engage in positive discussions with the child on the way to school. Talk about how exciting school can be and how much fun it is to learn new things. Don’t assuage anxiety before it appears; some children feel no anxiety until concerned parents make them wonder if they should feel nervous.

Keep Goodbyes Short

A lengthy goodbye gives a child the impression that a long, tough day is ahead. A quick kiss and hug, though, sends the message that the school day is a brief, happy interlude. Slipping away while a child is distracted might seem like a good plan, but it leaves a child feeling insecure. Always offer a pleasant goodbye.

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