Starting preschool is a giant step for a child, requiring a major adjustment in his or her daily routine. How to you ensure that your child is properly prepared for preschool?
In Part 1 of this Preschool Primer for Parents series, we gave you advice on how to determine if your child is ready to attend preschool. Once you have decided that the time is right, you will need to select a suitable preschool for your child.
In Part 2 of the series, we looked at the most important factors to consider when choosing a preschool for your child.
Once you have selected a preschool, you will need to begin to prepare your child for the preschool experience. Helping your child adjust to the daily routine of attending preschool may require some additional guidance and support.
Before the first day of preschool, introduce the idea of preschool so your child knows what to expect. There are many books available that you can read to your child to give him or her a sense of what school is like. Talk to your child about what happens in preschool – what goes on, how fun it will be, and how he or she will make lots of friends. Try to generate a positive attitude towards preschool.
In the year leading up to the start of preschool, visit the school with your child so that the environment will be familiar to your child once your child begins actually attending the preschool. You may even want to do a trial run and have your child spend some time there, to see how your child copes with a particular preschool environment. If you can, try to introduce your child to other children that will be in the same class.
There are a number of things you can do to help ease your child’s separation anxiety when he or she starts preschool:
- Go to the class and help your child get settled and involved in with an activity.
- Introduce your child to a new friend.
- Control your own emotions because your child will sense your anxiety. Remember that tears are normal and will usually stop after you leave. The school will usually contact you if your child is inconsolable.
- Tell your child when you are coming back.
- Say “goodbye” and resist the temptation to sneak off while your child is distracted with an activity.
Remember that even if the first day of preschool goes well, there may still be anxiety later as the novelty of preschool wears off. This is normal and the best way to get past it is to keep the routine of preschool consistent.
PACKING FOR PRESCHOOL
Most schools provide the materials your child will work with so there isn’t much to bring. The things you may need to pack include:
- Change of clothes in case of accidents
- Water bottle
- A snack (if the preschool doesn’t provide food). Check if there are any food restrictions at your child’s preschool, such as no nuts or pork
- Wet wipes, training pants and diapers (if your child still requires them)
Some preschools have a drop-off system in place, so parents are not required to park their cars when dropping children off at preschool. While this provides an added convenience when traffic is bad and parking is difficult, you may want to reconsider using it if your child is having trouble adjusting to preschool as he or she may need you to physically accompany him or her to the classroom.
As a security feature, many preschools now have the requirement that only pre-arranged individuals may pick up your child. Special arrangements must be made in advance if someone else will be picking up your child.