The first day of preschool is such a huge milestone for children. In some cases this is the first experience parents will have being separated from them!
There are many feelings that come into play during this time for both the parent and child. It is important to really plan and be prepared for this day, as it will help with the waves of emotions that tend to occur.
Here are a few steps to take in preparations for that big first day:
1. Have your child tour the school with you. Once you have made the decision to enroll, bring your child to his/her new preschool to take a tour and explore the new surroundings. Your child will be spending a majority of their day there; they need to feel a sense of familiarity. Drop offs may be a bit hard at first, but having the chance to explore their new classroom before the first day offers a chance to lay a small bit of foundation.
2. Adjust bedtime and wake times before the first day. If you will need extra time in the morning for drop off be sure to try and get into that routine before starting school. Get your childs body adjusted as much as possible to any new wake up times, this may include setting up earlier bedtimes if necessary.
3. Communicate with your child about what is happening! They need to understand the best they can that they are going to be having fun, playing, learning, making new friends etc., but that you will come back! Sometimes it is very important for the child to hear the actual words” I will be back for you at XYZ time”. Hopefully the school will have routine board and you can show your child details about their day and about the time you will be returning. It is important for some children to have that detail of their day specifically mentioned so they have an “end” to their day and know that you will be coming for them.
4. Be prepared the night before. Have their backpack filled with everything that they need, your preschool will let you know what is required. Be sure to have everything labeled with their first and last name (or initial) so that new unfamiliar items to the new school do not get misplaced or lost. Have your child layout their first day of school outfit so that there is no fuss in the morning of what to wear.
5. Leave ahead of schedule that first day. Of course you are going to want take 100 pictures, there may be some fussing, you might forget the backpack, or his/her socks might feel weird. Pack ahead because you are not going to want to feel rushed. Allow a bit of extra time that morning so that no one feels stressed out and anxious that the schedule is not being met.
6. Most important, keep your feelings in check. I know this is so hard! If your child feels your sadness, worries, or sees you crying – they will carry that with them. They might feel that “negative” sensation that they shouldn’t be there, its hard for them to realize where your emotions are coming from, they are just growing up and this is a big step for everyone involved. Wait until you have exited the room completely then you cant let it all out! I promise, no judging!
So, take a deep breath! Being prepared as much as possible will greatly ease this huge transition for your family. Be sure to talk to your child about what is going on and make them feel excited and apart of the decision to start school. Preschool is their first experience of school, so make it exciting and fun!
~Ms. Whitney R.