For many parents who have to face the first day of preschool, it poses difficulties because this may be the first time they have been separated from their child. Not everyone has the luxury of attending day care, or know what to expect when they leave the home environment. Just like that bird that steps out of the nest for the first time, the footsteps will be apprehensive, though can be prepared for by wise parents, who understand the stress isn’t just for them. For the child, the process can be extremely frightening if no preparation grounds are laid.
*Socializing with other children.
*Being without mommy.
*Learning who to talk to if there are problems.
*Familiarity with surroundings.
*Getting ready for preschool.
*Learning to make new friends.
Socializing with other children.
Those children who are accustomed to playing with other kids will find the transition easier. Children who are not accustomed to socializing will find the concept strange. Suddenly they are in a world where they are not the only little person, and their perspective on life changes. Instead of being the focus of mommy’s attention, the child is just one of a number of children, all equally lost in a new environment.
Preparation for preschool involves teaching a child that other kids are out there, and that they are just the same as them, with the same fears and apprehension. Mixing with other kids is vital from a very early age, and if at all possible, a child should be taught to socialize, share and become friends with others before being put into the situation of the first day at preschool. This prepares them for being more comfortable in the company of other children.
Being without mommy.
Mommy is probably more afraid of this than the child, though those children who are accustomed to always being within a safe distance of mommy may find the transition hard. To get over this problem, it is a good idea to get used to periods where the child is with other people. Their grandma or even kids in the park gives a parent an opportunity to show their child that they can be with others and still be relatively safe. Leaving a child with a trusted aunt or uncle where they can mix with others kids is also a good idea. Choosing a trusted environment and letting the child know that the world is okay when mommy isn’t there helps them to come to terms with being out of the sight of their parent.
Learning who to talk to when there are problems.
Talking to a child about how to address problems is a good idea. Talk through what the teacher is there for and tell them that teacher can be talked to if there are ever any problems. An introduction to teacher in advance may also be a good idea. If this is not possible, many schools encourage a parent to come into the school environment with their child on that first day, and this gives a parent an opportunity to help the child get a feel for their new school, and the parent the chance to show their child where things are, and who to talk to if needs arise.
Familiarity with surroundings.
A parent can show the child the classroom in advance. Often preschool classrooms are filled with colorful pictures which children can relate to. Taking them to see the classroom also helps give the parent confidence that their choice of school is right for the child. Show them where people sit and have class, and also encourage them by talking about the paintings, toys and books which are available to them. A child who is in a familiar environment is always happier than one who feels that the environment is strange. If a parent can take the child to look around the class in advance, this takes one dilemma out of the child’s mind on that all important day.
Getting ready for preschool.
This can be exciting or it can be a nightmare. A parent can lay out the child’s things ready for school with the child, making them familiar with how everything will happen on their very first day. Talk about what time you will all get up. Teach them to prepare themselves, take their wash, clean their teeth and present themselves looking really nice ready for breakfast. If they have a favorite toy, as many children do, why not pack this in their schoolbag to reassure them or encourage them to do so.
As you see your child leaving the comfort and warmth of their parent’s hand and heading towards a playground filled with small people, try to think of this as a stepping stone for the child, rather than a negative experience. The parent who is afraid is quite normal in their reticence in that it’s not only a new experience for them. It is indeed one for the child as well. By encouraging them, and being there when they say goodbye, you are letting them take their first steps out into the world, knowing that mommy is going to be there at the end of their day of adventure.
Learning to make new friends.
If you prepare your child for preschool, that first day will offer a wealth of opportunity. If your child is shy talk to them about how to make new friends. Talk also about all the different kinds of people they will meet. Going through story books is a good idea with illustrations of all different kinds of kids they may encounter. This helps them to be able to accept that not all kids are the same, but that they all have the same needs for friendship and respect.
On the night before that first day, as your child goes to sleep, prepare yourself, as a parent, to give that child all the support they need in their first day of preschool. By doing this, you are succeeding as a parent, and although this separation from a child may be difficult for both you and the child, the very fact that they are leaving the nest means they are growing and learning which is what childhood is all about. Be ready to welcome them home and to listen to all their excited babble at the end of the day, when all those fears will be part of the past.