Help Your Child Handle the First Day of Preschool

Preschool is a fun learning experience for children and helps fill their days with crafts and learning new things through interactive play. But the day can be full of anxiety for kids and parents too. Even though your child may be very excited about the idea of preschool she might burst into tears on the first day. The good news is that there are several things you can do to ease this anxiety.

Choose the Best Preschool for Your Child

Choosing a preschool can be challenging, especially if you're new to an area and aren't fully familiar with what's available. You want to do your best to choose a preschool that will meet your child's needs and match his personality. If you have friends and family who have recently sent their children to preschool, you can ask around for recommendations. If you haven't received any recommendations, check your local phone book for preschools. Visit their open houses and talk to the teachers to find out about the preschool programming, field trips and to see where your child will be playing. Make sure there's an orientation day for the children before school starts. This will give your child a chance to meet the teacher and see where he'll be playing.

Preparation for the First Day

Be sure to take your child to the orientation. Several weeks before the orientation and the first day of school, begin talking about it. Tell your child what she'll be doing, who she'll be meeting, which days she'll be going to preschool and what she'll be doing. Help her get excited about the day by taking her shopping for any supplies she needs. Few playschools require children to have many supplies except a backpack and inside shoes.

The Big Day

Make sure your child has a good night sleep. Help her pack her backpack the night before with her inside shoes and an extra set of clothes in case of a bathroom accident. Let her pick a favorite toy or animal for the first day of school and explain to her that she'll only be taking it the first day.

If you're nervous, be careful not to inadvertently pass your feelings of anxiety to your child. Walk your child into the classroom, help her find a hook for her jacket and backpack. Help her change into her inside shoes. Bring her to a toy that you noticed she liked a lot during the orientation day.

Do your best not to prolong the good-byes. Give your child a hug and a kiss, look her directly in the eyes and tell her you'll be coming back when school is finished. If she cries, the hardest thing you will need to do is leave. Repeat that you'll be back to pick her up when preschool is finished and let the teacher or teacher's assistant distract her as you leave. It may be hard to do this, but you can take comfort knowing that nine out of ten times a crying child will stop within five to ten minutes of the parent leaving.