Is it the first day of preschool for your child? This day can bring up a mix of emotions for parents AND kids. But we will give you some tips and tricks to make this big milestone as easy as possible for both of you.
How To Prepare Your Preschooler for Their First Day of Preschool
Here are 8 practical and easy things you can do to help your child transition to their first time in preschool.
Visit the Preschool and Meet the Teacher Together
One of the best things you can do to help you and your child prepare for their first day of preschool is to visit the school and classroom together. Then, the room won’t be an entirely new experience on the first day of school.
You’ll want to meet the teacher(s), and be sure to have your child interact with them so they are recognizable and familiar on the first day of school.
Become Familiar with the Preschool Classroom
It’s important for your child to both meet their teacher and become familiar with the classroom. If possible, have your child explore the classroom and examine the room materials.
It’s a good idea to take a picture of the classroom while you are there, and then when you’re at home with your child, you can examine the picture again together. This will allow your preschooler to feel comfortable with the room and not as nervous on the first day of school.
You can also mention certain items or toys that your child found interesting when you visited the classroom to get them excited about returning to school for their first day.
Adjust Your Child’s Nap Schedule
You may need to adjust your child’s sleep schedule in preparation for the first day of school.
Maybe your child needs to get into the habit of going to bed earlier and waking up earlier?
If your preschooler is still taking naps then, you may need to adjust their nap time.
Sort Your Own Feelings Out First
When kids are in a new environment they often look to their parents for guidance on how to feel or act. Because of this, your feelings can easily rub off onto your kids.
Most parents have mixed feelings about their toddler starting school, and it’s normal to not feel overwhelmingly happy or joyful.
But if you’re feeling anxious or stressed about your child starting preschool, you definitely don’t want your child to absorb those feelings.
Try your best to sort through your feelings before the big first day. Having a breakdown and crying while dropping your child off for their first day of school is one of the last things you want. It will scare your child and make them believe that they aren’t in a safe place.
Talk to a friend or family member about your feelings when your child is out of earshot. Or you can try journaling to record how you’re feeling.
It can help to try and remember when you first started school and what you were excited about and the good memories you have from preschool and kindergarten.
Instill Confidence in Your Preschooler
Help your child feel that going to preschool is a positive experience. Try to keep your tone upbeat and your attitude excited and encouraging.
Let your preschooler know exactly what time you’ll be back to get them. Point at the clock and tell them what time you’ll return.
It can help calm your child’s nerves to introduce them to another child and their parent on the first day of school. Share names and interests. For example, “Hi this is John, and he likes cars. What’s your name?”
Meeting a new friend can help calm everyone’s nerves and make transitioning away from the parents and into the classroom a little bit easier.
Create a Goodbye Routine
Creating a “goodbye routine” can make saying goodbye on the first day of school slightly easier and a bit more fun.
You’ll want to create your goodbye routine a few weeks before school starts so that it’s something your child is used to and familiar with.
A goodbye routine can be a goodbye song you sing, a goodbye poem, or a goodbye handshake the two of you share.
There is also a book called “The Kissing Hand” that talks about a baby raccoon going to his first day of school, and how his mom gives him a special kiss on his hand. This is another sweet way to say goodbye to your child. You can find a link to the book here.
Routines are helpful ways to create trust with your child, that even though you are saying goodbye, you will be back to get them eventually.
Never Sneak Out
In the past, parents were often given the bad advice of “sneaking out” of the classroom when their child was temporarily preoccupied.
This can break the trust your child has in you and cause your child to feel insecure about the teacher and classroom. So no matter how tempting, never sneak out when your preschooler is looking the other way. It can damage your relationship and dropping them off at the school even more difficult next time.
Give Your Child Something to Look Forward To
If there is an activity or a toy in the classroom that your child is specifically interested in, then remind them they will have a chance to do fun things while they are at the school.
For example you can tell your child, “Your teacher told me you guys will be getting stickers today. You’ll have to stay here to play with those stickers.”
You can also give them something to look forward to doing after school with you. Tell your child, “After school is over, I will come pick you up and we will go play on the swings at the park. But you have to stay here at school first.”
Looking for tips on how to help your older children return to school? Check out our other articles here.