The first day of preschool is sure to be an exciting time for you and your child! Still, the thought of starting preschool can bring up a variety of emotions leaving parents feeling anxious. “Where has my cuddly baby gone? How can they be this big already?” Your little one can be excited about becoming a “big kid” and at the same time be nervous about leaving you. Here are some back-to-school tips for parents who might be experiencing this new-preschooler anxiety.
Preparing for the First Day of Preschool
Once you have chosen a preschool for your child, you can begin helping them prepare for this big transition. A week or two before school begins, go shopping with your preschooler and let them pick out some items they like. A backpack and some items to put in it like a water bottle, a lunch box, snacks, and school supplies will help your child begin to feel more excited and less nervous about this new adventure.
This is also a good time to introduce a new “school bedtime” routine so they get used to it in advance. It’s also a good idea, if possible, to visit the school and classroom ahead of the first day. Doing this will allow you to show your little one around their new environment, helping them to be familiar with it on day one.
There are several books you can read together about going to preschool. Here are a few suggestions:
Tips for the Night Before the First Day
Excitement, and perhaps anxiousness, is sure to be through the rough at this point. Here are a few things you can do to help everyone feel ready for the big day.
- Label everything. That means everything. Water bottles, lunch boxes, clothing, and any comfort item your child may be bringing; make sure it’s labeled so it’s not misplaced leading to more stress for your child.
- Organize clothes. Maybe even let your preschooler pick out their first-day outfit. Have it laid out the night before. It’s also a good idea to have their lunch made, and can be a fun thing for you and your child to do together.
- Pack their backpack. This is another fun thing to do together the night before the first day.
- Pick a comfort object. Consider letting them bring something from home if they’re having a hard time feeling scared or anxious.
Tips for the Big Day
Now that the first day has finally arrived, it’s helpful to have a plan in place to help buffer the sure-to-be-shifting emotions. Here are a couple of suggestions.
- Wake up a little early. By waking up early you can make sure your preschooler won’t have to rush to eat breakfast or scramble to add any last-minute items to the backpack.
- Arrive early. Getting to school early will help give your little one time to adjust to the surroundings before the crowd arrives seemingly at once.
- Stay positive. Keep the tones in your voice upbeat and confident. If you are comfortable, you can help your child feel comfortable as well.
- Don’t linger. Keep your goodbyes short and sweet. Give a hug and let your child know when you will be back (i.e. “I’ll see you after lunch”) Try not to sneak out while they are not looking as this may upset them more. Hang around, but don’t hover and gradually fade into the background.
- Don’t panic. Remember, if your child is upset or having a hard time after your goodbyes, they’re in good hands. Preschool teachers and their assistants have been trained for this and have lots of tricks to help calm your child — chances are they will be fine 5 minutes after you leave.
Watching your little one grow up is surreal and has a way of sneaking up on you. It’s important for parents to help regulate emotions through these transitions. By showing your child there’s nothing to be afraid of, and assuring them you’ll help along the way, the first day of preschool will be an exciting and joyful event for both you and your new preschooler.
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