Since the day your child was born, he/she might have been cared for by either yourself, your parents/in-laws or a nanny/helper at home.
Now that you are both looking ahead towards the toddler years, one of the biggest decisions you’d need to make is to choose a preschool for your child and prepare him/her for the first day of preschool.
As the big day draws near, you may be dealing with some huge emotions yourself as you experience feelings of guilt (“Did I make the right choice?” to worry (“Will he be okay at school? He knows that we’ll pick him up at the end of the day, right?”).
And then you wonder how your child will react on that day.
Will he/she start the day with tears as you leave him/her with the teachers? Or will he/she walk happily into the school and settle down peacefully?
You’ll never know how the day will unfold until it happens, but there are some things you can do to better prepare your little one (and yourself!) for the first day of preschool!
Preparing Your Child for the First Day of Preschool
1. Visit the preschool centre together
Once you’ve settled on the preschool for your child, bring him/her with you to visit the centre. This allows your child to get to know the teacher and familiarise himself/herself to the new environment. It’s also a great chance to see how the teachers bond and engage with your child which says a lot about how his/her days at preschool would look like.
2. Talk about preschool life
Going to preschool will be a new experience for your child – so, make time to talk to him/her about it.
Skew your conversation towards the positive side by pointing out how fun preschool is going to be. At the same time, do bring up the fact that you won’t be there with him/her but give the reassurance that you will be back later in the day to pick him/her up.
At the same time, you should also think positively about your child’s entry to preschool and revel in the fact that he/she will be starting an exciting journey in life.
3. Replicate preschool routines
As you count down towards the first day of preschool, you can help your child to get used to the structure by creating new routines at home that may be similar. Some examples include scheduling half an hour of reading time after lunch or before naptime.
Most preschools include fixed routines of nap, free play, activities, meal and snack times, as well as toilet breaks – so do get a head start by introducing these in baby steps to your child at home. It’ll go a long way in helping him/her adapt more quickly to the real school environment.
4. Plan time away from your child
One of the challenges that most children face during the initial stages of starting school is separation anxiety. You can help your child to better cope with this by having him/her get used to spending time away from you gradually.
Plan for days of the week where you can leave your little one with other family members for a certain period of time – then gradually increase this over time. This will let him/her experience what it’s like to be away from you as he/she learns to live with it.
5. Read books about starting preschool
Reading books to children is one of the most effective ways to introduce new concepts to them, so choose some titles about starting preschool to your little one.
Some great titles to consider are:
- “See you later, Alligator” by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
- “When Ben Started Preschool” by Robyn Edwards
- “Max and Millie Start School” by Falicity Brooks
- “Come to school too, Blue Kangaroo” by Chichester Clarke
Starting preschool is a big step for both you and your child. You can make his/her first few days a pleasant and memorable experience by helping him/her prepare for this new learning adventure in a positive way.
While some days may seem harder than the rest, know that this will be temporary and it’ll be a matter of time before your little one understands the concept of going to preschool and enjoys himself/herself there!