Is your child entering a preschool program for the first time? Make it a smooth transition with these 7 tips for starting preschool.
Tips for a Happy Preschool Transition
1. Establish a School Routine
Children are exhausted when beginning a new school. Try to establish a standard sleeping schedule with an earlier “bed time” and standard school “wake-up time.” Pack items and set-out clothes the night before, to help minimize the morning chaos.
2. Read Together Daily
Daily reading together is one of simplest, and most important, ways parents can prepare children for school. Not only are you supporting their listening and attention skills, you are helping them develop a life-long love of reading.
Check out books about preschool and discuss them with your child. Reading with young children is a discussion……and helps children develop comprehension skills.
3. Visit the School
Review the school policies and try to ask questions before the first day.
If the school has a visiting day or Open House, make sure you participate to meet the teacher and allow the child to see the new environment.
If there is no Open House, visit the outside of the school and take pictures. Practice parking, walking to the front door together, and talking about what happens at school.
4. Make a Book Together
Talk about the new preschool experience your child is beginning. Take draw pictures together or take photos of the school and discuss that “This is Jonathan’s School. This is Jonathan playing on the playground. This is daddy picking him up when school is all done.”
Tell stories about your own preschool memories. “When mommy was a little girl, Grandma used to pick me up after school. My favorite activity was finger painting, and my teacher wore overalls everyday!”
5. Join a Play Date
If you know other children attending the school, meet-up at the park for an informal play date. Introduce the children, and help them remember their names. “Tommy will be in your class too. Look how he likes trucks!”
After school begins, continue meet-up with other children from the school. Often, it is the informal lunch date, or playground group who helps break the ice and establish friendships. Children need time outside of school to unwind and just play with new friends.
Meet the other parents at your child’s school during pick-up or drop-off. Schools are communities, and fellow families are vital sources for support and resources for information.
6. Give Special Objects
Get a new backpack for school. Give your child a personal belonging from you, like a keychain or scarf, as a memento. Tell your child they can give the item back to you after school, when you pick them up. This helps the child understand that you will return. Be sure to check with the school about what personal items are allowed.
7. Love ‘Em, then Leave ‘Em
Always say goodbye to your child, and don’t sneak away. Establishing trust is very important for curbing separation anxiety.
Let them know you love them, say goodbye, and then leave. Prolonged goodbyes make it more difficult for you, your child, and your child’s teacher. Teachers are trained on how to handle difficult separations, and your child will begin to trust the teacher will take care of them, if you help model this behavior.
If you are concerned about how your child is transitioning, call the school to ask, rather than peeking in the windows or risking your child seeing you return.
Remember that adjusting to preschool is a process. Expect that both you and your child will need time to feel comfortable with the new situation.
There will be good days, and bad. Hang in there, and your child will soon become a preschool pro!