Some parents do a happy dance when their kids go off to preschool, while others fight back the tears as their toddlers cross the threshold into the world of school. No matter what camp you’re in, you and your toddler will likely feel some nervousness as the first day of preschool approaches. Preparing you and your toddler for the big day makes the transition easier with fewer tears for everyone involved.
Talk It Up
Talking about preschool before plunking your toddler down on the school’s doorstep prepares her for the first day. Your toddler might feel nervous or afraid to start preschool, especially if she normally stays home with you. Reading books about preschool and talking about what she’ll do can ease some of those worries. Your chats are also a good time to remind her that she’ll only go to preschool for a certain amount of time and then you’ll pick her up. To really give her an idea of what to expect, play preschool at home so she can practice sitting, following directions and doing structured activities.
Just pretending to play preschool isn’t quite the same as seeing the real deal. A visit to the school before the first day gives your toddler the opportunity to explore and become familiar with the space. She also gets a sneak peak at her new teacher. The first day of preschool is usually hectic with lots of parents and kids swarming the teacher. A casual meeting before the first day lets your toddler begin forming a bond. Some preschools schedule a meet-the-teacher day before school starts. If your preschool doesn’t, call ahead of time to see whether you can stop by with your toddler.
Start a Tradition
It’s the little things that get kids excited and make back-to-school time memorable. Families naturally develop their traditions in anticipation of the first day of school. You might take your preschooler school shopping where she picks out her backpack, school supplies and a few new outfits. On the first day of school, let her pick out her favorite breakfast. Take photos to capture the milestone. To remember the details, write the year, grade, teacher’s name and her age on a chalkboard and have her hold it for the photos. These little traditions make your toddler feel special and might help ease any nerves she’s feeling.
Tears are inevitable for some toddlers on the first day of school, while others rush into the classroom barely giving a wave to their parents. You can probably guess how your toddler will react based on her personality so preparing yourself either way makes it easier. Some parents linger in the classroom on the first day, but don’t stay too long, especially if your child is upset about the separation. Once you commit to leaving, say a quick goodbye with a hug and a kiss, but don’t prolong it. In most cases, the toddler only cries for a few minutes before joining in on all the fun of preschool. If your toddler continues to have difficult drop-offs, work with the teacher and stay consistent with your quick goodbyes. A comfort item, like a photo, helps some toddlers with the separation.