Although summer has just begun, many parents are already thinking ahead to when it’s time to bring their children into a preschool classroom. Although 23.4% of children under the age of five are in some type of organized childcare arrangement outside the home, that doesn’t mean making this transition is easy. It will require quite a bit of preparation and patience for both parents and preschoolers to adjust. In today’s post, we’ll share some back-to-school tips that can help get preschool students and their families in the right frame of mind.
Establish a Routine in Advance
Enrolling your child in a preschool program will come with a number of changes — especially when it comes to your family’s daily routine. If your child experiences too many sudden changes at once, it will likely be much harder for them to take everything in stride. You should aim to make necessary changes to bedtime and morning routines a month or so in advance so that everyone gets enough sleep and feels ready to go each day. This can keep your child from feeling overwhelmed or rushed when it finally comes time to head to their preschool classroom for the first time. You may also want your toddler to become accustomed to eating breakfast, taking a nap, and even picking out their clothes in the morning in ways that will mimic their routine once school begins. If you can get these scheduling changes out of the way now, everyone will have less to worry about once September rolls around.
Read and Discuss With Your Toddler
It’s only natural that your child might feel confused or apprehensive about starting school. They’re going to be entering an unfamiliar environment, so they’ll probably have a lot of questions and concerns. However, they might not always be able to express these worries in a productive way. If you can have ongoing conversations with your child about school and explain exactly what they can expect, you can help to put their mind at ease. It may also help to read some children’s books about starting preschool. Not only will reading aloud allow you to spend quality time together, but these books can also address many concerns your child might not be able to express. If the characters in these books are able to deal with these tough situations, your child may feel more confident that they can do the same.
Visit the School and Meet the Staff
Another essential part of preschool preparation is to make a visit (or two) to the facility beforehand and meet the teachers and other staff members. Whether your child is entering preschool for the first time or whether this will be their second year at the school, it’s a good idea to get to know their preschool classroom and the adults they’ll interact with each day. Preschools will offer tours or orientation visits to ensure that both parents and students feel comfortable finding their way around and have the opportunity to ask any questions they may have. Since your child’s first experience there will involve having you by their side, they can feel better about what will happen on their first day.
Prepare For Emotional Outbursts
Even if you follow the aforementioned advice to the letter, your child may still have a difficult time adjusting to their life in the preschool classroom. The first day (or even the first few weeks) can be particularly tough. If your child is very emotionally attached, this can make matters harder for parents, too. Go into the experience expecting that your child may not handle this initial separation well. This means that you should establish and stick to a drop-off routine and keep the lines of communication open with your child and with the school. This is an emotional milestone for everyone involved, so you’ll want to plan ahead in order to deal with any separation anxiety and keep things positive. If your child sees that you’reupset, these changes will feel a lot more substantial than they really are.
Is your family ready for school to start? We’re here to facilitate a smooth transition for your preschooler. For more information on our programs and staff, please contact us today.