How to Prepare Your Child for the First Day of Preschool

Mother and daughter first day of preschool

How to Prepare Your Child for the First Day of Preschool

That first day of school is such a huge milestone for your family. As a parent, you may have felt it coming for a long time. You may also be feeling like you can’t believe this day is here.

Whatever you’re feeling, rest assured that it’s normal. And just like you, your child may be experiencing a range of emotions or he may be disengaged from the impending change.

This is okay too. Every child prepares a little differently for change, just like adults. There are a few ways to make your child’s transition smooth, and hopefully yours too.

Preparing for the Big Day

As the new school season approaches, particularly if your child isn’t used to a daycare setting, do just enough talking about preschool to make it seem reasonable.

It’s a good idea to do some casual talking about where the school will be, what they do there, and how you will get back and forth to the school.

What you want to avoid is talking about preschool for months in advance or emphasizing it too much. Even if you talk about it positively, your child may feel that it’s a more significant change than he or she can handle if it looms too large.

The idea is to introduce it the way you would introduce visiting Grandma’s house. It’s a healthy, pleasant part of life that’s about to become very important in your child’s life.

Routines at Home Make Good Transitions

Before preschool starts is an excellent time for you and your child to strengthen routines you already have present in your home or to start a few small habits if you don’t have much established yet.

Having a schedule at home helps kids feel secure. If they know what to expect, and when, they are much more likely to be able to take on the added structure of preschool.

A good set of habits doesn’t have to be exhaustive. For young children, sit and eat meals together as often as you can instead of feeding on-the-go. You can give them a small chore like taking their dishes to the sink or washing their hands by themselves after a meal.

Bedtime and bathtime are both great opportunities to add structure to your day in the weeks leading up to preschool. Having a set nighttime schedule with set steps and chores leading up to lights can bring a sense of calm and accomplishment for your child.

Routines are also a great way to work on fine motor skills and self-reliance. Use your 3-year-old’s “I can do it!” to your advantage in these weeks.

Often, little ones who start out unable to do very much for themselves can master a host of simple skills in just over a week. It is well worth the extra time and energy you spend teaching your child these life skills.

Fielding Anxieties

Your child may not have enough of a grasp of what preschool is like to be able to voice his or her anxieties. While other children may have an active imagination that makes up worries where there shouldn’t be. How much should you engage in your child’s fears or potential fears?

You have to be confident that you are making the right choice for your child. If you are confident, don’t let your child’s worries become your own, or worry that your child is going to have a terrible time without you.

The best reassurance you can give him is your own positive attitude about preschool and the wonderful things awaiting him there.

Setbacks are normal at this stage: if your child seems ready and happy as she enters school but regresses in her potty training routine, it’s not a sign that you are failing! It is common for kids to regress in one area when a change occurs.

Eventually, the verbal and nonverbal signs of separation anxiety will lessen when your child sees that you return for him every day and as she feels more comfortable with his teachers and classmates.

Play Preschool With Your Child

In the weeks and days leading up to the big day, pretending and physically preparing will help your child look forward to the change.

  • Choose a backpack and lunch bag together.
  • Let her pick out her own clothes for her first day.
  • Take some time each day to sit and read books about going to school and to play “pretend preschool” with him in a way that’s fun and lighthearted.

You can even schedule a special trip to your new school to see the classrooms, meet the teachers and play with the kids.

Takeaway

Your child’s first day of preschool is a big deal for you, and it’s a big deal for her whether she knows it or not. Whether you are both excited, nervous or scared, it’s all normal.

The best thing you can do is make the best possible decision and move forward positively while intentionally putting practices in place that will ease the transition for both of you.

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