Starting preschool on the right foot makes it a more positive experience for adults and children alike. What can be stressful for a family can be turned around in ways that make a child more comfortable entering a new situation, away from their parents. There are so many benefits of attending preschool, that these efforts at making it a positive experience are well worth the effort.
Talk to your child’s school administrators and teachers to learn about the program. Is it half day or full day? Does the child need to bring supplies? How are snacks and meals handled? Armed with this information, your can describe to the child what to expect, reducing any stress of concerns that may exist for the preschooler. Focus gently on the new activities the child may be able to enjoy at preschool, such as finger-painting, playing on a playground, and story time.
Build familiarity & confidence
Meet the teacher ahead of time and ask questions so you will be able to tell your child what to expect. Focus happily on the new activities your child will enjoy at preschool, such as finger-painting, playing on a playground, and story time. Explain to your child that the teacher is someone they can go to for answers and reassurance, or if they don’t feel well. You can also help build your child’s confidence in new situations by making regular excursions into new territory. These outings can simply be to a local park, library, or friend’s house, and they will help the child learn that different behaviors and rules apply to different situations and that there is no need to be frightened.
Provide experiences without parents
The world is a very big place to a preschooler. If they have never been away from family before, preschool can be far more frightening than is necessary. By using babysitters, sleepovers, play dates, and outings with other adults to get your child used to absences from parents and other family members. This will help the preschool aged child feel more comfortable being away from family members.
Make preschool a positive
Talking positively with your young child about your personal school experiences will help them to see it in the same way. Tell them how much fun they will have meeting new friends and learning new things, without providing excessive reassurance, which can backfire. It is important that you mean what you are saying. If you are tense or anxious, your child will pick up on that, regardless of what you say. Parents can also make preparing for preschool more fun buy shopping for new clothes, a backpack (just like the Big Kids), and any needed supplies.
Do not hover
Parents who remain at the school longer than is necessary frequently cause children to wonder about their own safety. Why is Mom or Dad unwilling to leave? Is there something wrong? Transitions can be difficult for young children. Dragging the process out increases the likelihood of tearful goodbyes and tantrums. Professional caregivers and teachers know the tears that occur stop shortly after parents leave.
If your child’s preschool has outings or special events, they will probably need parents to help supervise. Be one of those parents. This will show the child that school is worth participating in and that it is an extension of family life.
The first day of preschool should be a happy day for parents and children alike. Knowing that your preschooler is looking forward to this new experience and having more free time for yourself makes it a win-win situation.