By TMoM Team Member Dennette Bailey

It is a rite of passage for preschool aged children to embark upon the adventures of preschool. Even so, it can be a bit intimidating for both the child and parent. If you are sending your little one to preschool or maybe contemplating sending your little one to preschool, you can feel more comfortable with your decision with these 7 preparation ideas.

  1. A Tour is a Must! – Be sure that your preschooler has taken a tour of the classroom before the first day of school. This will alleviate worry and your child will experience an air of familiarity during a time when the adults and children around the child may be unfamiliar. A tour will also aid in your discussion up until the start date, as you ponder all the different activities your child will encounter to together.
  2. All Feelings are Important! – Validate your child’s fears and excitement with words. Tell your child you understand their feelings. Discuss a time when you had the same feelings and how you overcame if the feelings were sad and how you stayed motivated if the feelings were happy.
  3. Develop a Routine. – Let’s face it. If your child has not been in a daycare setting prior to preschool it is likely your preschooler is going to have some difficulty with separating from you. Quite frankly, you may also have some difficulty. Be ready with a plan to handle this. I suggest reminding your preschooler that going to school is part of growing up. Then, establish a special routine to signify a healthy separation such as a handshake or 4 kisses and 4 hugs and then mom or dad must go. On the car ride take this time to communicate with your child that you will leave but you are coming back. Tell them, for example, right after lunch or right after nap or right after snack, you will be back for them, so they can develop a sense of timing that comforts them. Be sure to stick with your routine whatever it is.
  4. Prepare Yourself Emotionally. – You are not improving your child’s resilience if you hold them for 10 minutes while they cry, and other children trickle into the classroom. Neither are you helping the teacher. Your child is likely to be approached by another child wanting to offer comfort, and certainly, the teacher will comfort your child, but ultimately you should allow them to feel the sad feelings and work out how to comfort them. It is important for you to be able to walk away knowing they are safe and will have fun.
  5. Organize Supplies the Night Before. – Organizing everything you need the night before is going to make the morning go much smoother. Be sure any paperwork or change of clothing you haven’t already taken to school is ready. Besides blankets, most preschools do not allow children to bring toys and objects from home, for too many reasons to list here. It is best not to give your child these items or put them in a bag for your child because not being able to take out their personal items will become another issue they have to get over during the day.
  6. Prepare Alternative Self Soothing Methods. – Your child will be comforted throughout the day, but it is normal to want to have an impact on your child’s emotional well-being while they are not in your care. Moreover, doing this will comfort both child and parent. Just remember the method needs to be something your child can do on their own. It should be doable without extended materials such as toys. Consider having a shirt made with a photo of your family so they can look at it during the day or at nap time to comfort themselves because they won’t be able to carry a picture all day. Another idea is to give your child a special kiss on the forehead – not on the hand because they wash their hands several times a day and may cry if they wash off your kiss. Remind your child that the kiss, and thus you, are with them all day long. Discuss with your child ways to comfort themselves. Offer comforting ideas such as, when you are feeling lonely you can go to the little cozy corner that had your favorite color chair, or if you feel sad you can draw a picture of your family.
  7. Trust Your Decision. – Your child’s preschool experience is very significant. It helps build their confidence, independence, and resilience. Your child loves you. However, they absolutely need time, even if it is just a couple hours a day, to be with children their own age, practice following directions from adults other than their parents or the people who love them, and figuring out their likes and needs in a space separate form their caregivers. Preschool will improve their communication skills dramatically and most importantly prepare them for the rigors of kindergarten!

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