Whether your child is excited or nervous about starting preschool, it is a significant adjustment. However, you can help your child through this transition with these five tips.
1) Set realistic expectations
You may feel the urge to help your child feel excited about going to preschool by talking about how much fun she’s going to have every day. However, this may not be the best strategy. Starting preschool is a big moment in your young child’s life, and it’s normal to be anxious or have concerns. Rather than making preschool seem as fun as going to an amusement park, set realistic expectations. Tell your child what a typical day at preschool might look like, and answer any questions she may have, no matter how unusual. Arming your child with information will help to alleviate her anxiety.
2) Encourage him to talk
Have discussions about preschool with your child, and encourage him to talk about how he feels. Let him know that it’s okay if he’s confused about something, or if he feels happy one day and nervous the next. Above all, treat his feelings with respect, even if they might seem trivial or even cute to you. This way, not only will he develop the confidence to express his emotions, but he’ll also learn ways he can cope with the new experience of preschool.
3) Visit the preschool ahead of time
It can help your child to visit the preschool before her first day. Show her the classrooms, introduce her to teachers, and let her play with the toys or on the playground. Explain what her daily activities will be, and where in the school they’ll take place. If it’s possible, allow your child to explore at her own pace so she will feel calm and at ease. Letting your child visit the preschool ahead of time will help her feel more familiar with the new environment early, so the first day might not seem so scary to her.
4) Get your child involved
Getting your child’s participation and assistance in preparing for preschool can help him feel less overwhelmed about the adjustment. Go shopping for supplies with him, and ask him to choose his own backpack. Find books about preschool and read them together. Look for ways to help him feel a sense of control over the process, which may help him to feel more confident.
5) Adjust your routine
In the weeks leading up to your child’s first day, slowly start adjusting your daily routine to what it will eventually become once preschool starts. If your child will go to bed earlier or wake up earlier, it’s best to start this transition as early as possible. You can also make a game of lunchtime, packing her lunch in her backpack. Gradually incorporating some elements of her new routine ahead of time will help her to feel more comfortable and confident when she actually does experience the preschool schedule.
Starting preschool is an important milestone in your child’s life, and it comes with a mix of excitement, nervousness, and anxiety. These are all normal emotions, but by painting a realistic picture, answering questions, visiting the school, encouraging involvement, and adjusting your daily routine, you can help to prepare your child for preschool.