The transition from playing at home all day long to the preschool classroom is a challenge for many young children. And that’s okay. Even though it’s completely normal to stress over the start of the school year, there’s no reason to let your anxiety take over. With some careful planning and creative problem solving, you can send your child off to preschool without fear or tears. Before the backpacks and lunches boxes make their grand debut, take a look at how you can make the start of the preschool year easier on everyone!
Start a routine on day one. Scratch that. Start a routine before the first day of preschool. Whether you choose a special handshake that just the two of you share, have a secret song you sing on the way to school or pick another pre-preschool day idea, having a ritual can make the mornings predictable and give your kiddo something to look forward to. Beyond that, it creates a bond that your child can carry with them all day long—and well into their preschool year.
What should your child expect on their first day of preschool? Even though a verbal description can help, talking about school may not fully calm your child’s fears. Seeing the school, meeting the teacher and learning about the daily activities can help to ease your child into their new school setting. If the preschool doesn’t have a formal orientation, set up your own meet and greet with their soon-to-be teacher.
Keep the memory of your child’s pre-k visit alive with photos that your child helps you to take. Hand over your phone and let them play the paparazzi’s role. Your tot can photograph everything that they find interesting. Expect pics of toys, art supply closets and all kinds of kid-friendly items that the teacher has placed around the classroom.
Keeping those preschool pics locked in your phone won’t do your child any good. Instead of hiding them away in some sort of cloud, print them into a real photo book. Read the book each night, leading up to the first day of school. When preschool finally starts, use the photos as a conversation starter. Look back at the book and talk about your child’s day. Create a new book each year, designing your own multi-volume set that features your kiddo’s preschool career.
Your child has no idea what to expect from their soon-to-be school day. Help them to better understand what happens in the preschool classroom with a pretend play activity. Gather dolls, action figures and stuffed animals, setting them up around the playroom. These imaginary friends will become other pre-k students! Take turns switching roles, with one of you playing the teacher and the other playing the role of preschool student.
Let your crafty kid’s artistic imagination go wild with a preschool day drawing or painting. Even though your young preschooler may not have the words to express how they’re feeling inside, they can interpret their emotions through art. Your little artist can paint a portrait of themselves at school, create a scene that embodies what they imagine happens during the preschool day or make a piece of abstract art that uses brushstrokes and colors to reflect their feelings.
Give your child a little piece of home to keep them company during the preschool day. This might mean sending in a stuffed animal, beloved blanket or any other lovey!