Helping Your Child Adjust to Preschool

Starting preschool can be both an exciting and scary time for your preschooler – and for you. Because preschool is a stepping-stone to kindergarten, making sure that your child properly adjusts to this new phase of her life is important. And the more familiar you are with the preschool your child will be attending and the more comfortable you are about your child starting preschool, the smoother the transition will be for both you and your child.

Tips on How to Help Your Child Adjust to Preschool
Preparing for the first day of school is essential to helping your child get used to a new setting and a new social experience where she can make new friends. That means taking steps well in advance of the big day is important to making this change in your child’s life a positive one.

One way in which to help your child get ready for preschool is to slowly introduce activities at home that are similar to preschool activities. For example, let your child scribble with paper and crayons or introduce simple science experiments like growing beans in a cup of water. That will make school feel like a more comfortable place.

Visiting the school a few times before the first day makes a new setting less scary for your preschooler. This is also an excellent opportunity to talk to your child’s teacher about your concerns, including strategies on how to reduce first day of school jitters and what the class structure will be like.

Also, talk some time to discuss preschool with your child. Talk about it in a calm, positive tone but don’t overemphasize it too much. This might cause your child to become anxious or worried.

The First Day of Preschool
On the first day of school, be calm and pleasant. Make sure there is enough time for your child to go through his usual morning routine, so that he doesn’t feel rushed or unsure. Also, prepare a well-balanced breakfast for your child to get his day off to a healthy start. He should also get a proper amount of rest the night before (making an established bedtime routine important). Maintain a calm and reassuring attitude on the way to school.

Once you and your child reach school, calmly reintroduce the teacher to your child. Step back and let the teacher set the tone. This allows the teacher to establish a relationship with your child and also shows the child that he is safe in the teacher’s care.

If your child clings to you or wants to leave, stay calm. Follow the teacher’s guidelines; in fact, it’s a good idea to discuss such a scenario and action strategies in your initial meetings with the teacher.

Once your teacher and child have been introduced, give your child a warm, reassuring goodbye and then leave. Don’t draw out saying goodbye or sneak out, as this will have a negative effect on your child.

Establish a consistent goodbye routine for dropping off your child at school; this minimizes any feelings of fear or of abandonment in your child, because children find routines comforting. And feeling at home when at school helps your child embrace the journey of learning.