Starting preschool can be anxiety-provoking for toddlers, but parents can ease the transition with a little preparation. Here are a few tips to help set up children for success on their first day in the classroom.
Ways to Start Preparing for Preschool Now:
- Before the first day, drive by the building several times, and if possible, visit a classroom. Even better if you can try out the playground!
- Explain your child’s new routine, from walking into the classroom, playing with new friends, and returning back home.
- Role-play elements of the school day. Dress up like a teacher and encourage your child practice different school activities.
- Take a photo of your child’s teacher to display at home at the preschool’s open house. Practice the teacher’s name with your child prior to the first day.
Tips for a Successful First Day of Preschool:
- Bring along a comfort item like a blanket, stuffed animal, or toy in case your child feels insecure.
- Walk your child into the classroom and explain when you will return, even if he or she doesn’t really understand time.
- After giving hugs and kisses, let your child watch you leave. It’s disconcerting for a child to turn around and find their parent gone.
- If there are tears, let your child know that you can stay for only five minutes — and then leave. Try to keep your own anxiety hidden so your child won’t pick up the feeling that something is wrong.
- Arrive early for pick-up and wait near the classroom door so your child can find you easily.
- Be ready in case separation anxiety continues. Carpooling or walking into the building with a friend may help. Also, consider taking pictures of your child’s classroom and classmates to display and discuss at home.