Sometimes it’s difficult to tell who is more nervous about going to public preschool for the first time, the parents or the child, but a little planning and preparation can make a world of difference for everyone.
The following tips should help this important transition go more smoothly:
• Take your child to visit the teacher and classroom before the first day of school. Check out the other two important places: the bathroom and the playground. You might want to take some pictures to put on the fridge at home to help your child become more familiar before the big day.
• If you don’t know any children who will be starting with your little one, ask for some names, call and set up a play date or two. School will seem less intimidating if your child knows at least one or two familiar faces.
• Shopping for “Back to School” clothes is an American tradition. Introduce your preschooler with a special trip to pick out the perfect backpack, lunchbox, and supplies (even if the school provides some of them). Of course, a new outfit for first day is also in order.
• Playing school at home will acquaint your child with the typical classroom routine. Explain the fun of singing songs, doing crafts, playing games and hearing stories. Sharing your own positive experiences will help your child feel more confident.
• Visit the library and read books about going to school. The Kissing Hand, Don’t Go!, and What to Expect at Preschool (What to Expect Kids) are great choices. Talk about separation issues and how the characters must be feeling.
• Make sure your child knows who will be there at pick-up time. If your preschooler will be taking the bus, ask if you can have a pre-ride if possible. If not, hop a town bus just for the experience. If that isn’t an option read stories about buses.
• Start your school schedule the week before school actually begins, establishing both bedtime and morning routines with your child. Getting everyone’s internal clock adjusted will make that first week less tiring and stressful as well as let your child know in what way things will be slightly different at home.
Always speak positively about school, the teacher and the activities when your child is within earshot. It may seem small, but just smiling when you visit the school or talk about it reassures your preschooler that everything will be all right. Your little one trusts you, and if you are fine with school, your child will learn to be too.