Ways to ease into the first day of preschool

Starting preschool can be a stressful time for your child (and you!). You may even experience guilt or feel like you are abandoning your child, but remember that this is part of the next step in your child’s journey. Trust the teachers and the process.

While it can take weeks or even months for your child to completely adjust, know that things will eventually click and he or she will thrive.

A few weeks prior to the start of preschool, talk to your child about what will happen at school. Tell them about the kinds of things they will do. Explain what a teacher is. Make sure they know you won’t attend school, too.

Prepare by reading books about preschool. Favorites include A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon, Llama Llama Misses Mama and Maisy Goes to Preschool. These books teach kids that parents always return to pick them up. Just like in A Kissing Hand, you can establish a goodbye routine of your own.

Start letting your child exert his or her independence. This can include taking an outing to pick out a new backpack or letting them choose their first day of school outfit.

Visit the new school before the first day. Many schools offer an orientation or open house where children can meet each other and their teachers. It’s also a good idea to let them see the inside of the school and their classroom so that the  environment isn’t completely foreign. Some parents even like to do a trial run or two to practice the drop-off and pick-up process.

Schedule a playdate with another child from class. You’ll likely receive a class list before school begins. Seek out another parent and plan a playdate or park meet-up so your child has a familiar face when they walk into the classroom.

Let your child bring a transitional object such as a lovey or stuffed animal with them to make them more comfortable. You will probably find that after some time at preschool, they will either forget about the object or will stop asking to bring it all together.

Leave yourself time to arrive at school early and be on time to pick up your child. By getting to school with time to spare, your child will have a few extra minutes of quiet in the classroom or hallways before the chaos of the day ensues.

Say goodbye to your child as opposed to sneaking out and reassure them that you will pick them up after school. Leave, even if your child starts to cry, and to avoid mixed messages, don’t keep coming back. Kids will likely stop crying after a few minutes and if they are not able to calm down, the staff will call you.

Stay positive. Children pick up on their parent’s feelings, so if you’re emotional or anxious, they may react and feel the same.

“Preschool is intended to help children gain independence. If you send the message that you are confident in this process, then your child will pick up on your emotions and know that it is safe. Try not to hesitate or look back. Trust in yourself that you’ve chosen a good school for your child and know that he or she is safe. The teachers will take it from there,” says Glenview licensed clinical social worker and mom, Elissa Chapman.

Starting preschool can be a stressful time for your child (and you!). You may even experience guilt or feel like you are abandoning your child, but remember that this is part of the next step in your child’s journey. Trust the teachers and the process.

While it can take weeks or even months for your child to completely adjust, know that things will eventually click and he or she will thrive.

A few weeks prior to the start of preschool, talk to your child about what will happen at school. Tell them about the kinds of things they will do. Explain what a teacher is. Make sure they know you won’t attend school, too.

Prepare by reading books about preschool. Favorites include A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon, Llama Llama Misses Mama and Maisy Goes to Preschool. These books teach kids that parents always return to pick them up. Just like in A Kissing Hand, you can establish a goodbye routine of your own.

Start letting your child exert his or her independence. This can include taking an outing to pick out a new backpack or letting them choose their first day of school outfit.

Visit the new school before the first day. Many schools offer an orientation or open house where children can meet each other and their teachers. It’s also a good idea to let them see the inside of the school and their classroom so that the  environment isn’t completely foreign. Some parents even like to do a trial run or two to practice the drop-off and pick-up process.

Schedule a playdate with another child from class. You’ll likely receive a class list before school begins. Seek out another parent and plan a playdate or park meet-up so your child has a familiar face when they walk into the classroom.

Let your child bring a transitional object such as a lovey or stuffed animal with them to make them more comfortable. You will probably find that after some time at preschool, they will either forget about the object or will stop asking to bring it all together.

Leave yourself time to arrive at school early and be on time to pick up your child. By getting to school with time to spare, your child will have a few extra minutes of quiet in the classroom or hallways before the chaos of the day ensues.

Say goodbye to your child as opposed to sneaking out and reassure them that you will pick them up after school. Leave, even if your child starts to cry, and to avoid mixed messages, don’t keep coming back. Kids will likely stop crying after a few minutes and if they are not able to calm down, the staff will call you.

Stay positive. Children pick up on their parent’s feelings, so if you’re emotional or anxious, they may react and feel the same.

“Preschool is intended to help children gain independence. If you send the message that you are confident in this process, then your child will pick up on your emotions and know that it is safe. Try not to hesitate or look back. Trust in yourself that you’ve chosen a good school for your child and know that he or she is safe. The teachers will take it from there,” says Glenview licensed clinical social worker and mom, Elissa Chapman.

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