The First Day of Preschool: How to Prepare Your Child (and Yourself)
Preschool is an essential part of your child’s future in the education system. According to recent data, 87% of five-year-olds in the United States have enrolled in pre-primary programs like preschool.
Since it’s such a big step for your child and for you as a parent, it can be both nerve-wracking and exciting. If you’ve never been through sending a child to preschool before, you might not know what to expect, especially from the first day. There are ways that you can prepare yourself and your child for their first day of preschool.
Talk it out
The first and most important thing that you need to do is address all the big emotions in the room. This includes your feelings and your child’s feelings. Since it is such a big step, it’s understandable that you and your child might both be worried. Being able to talk about how you’re feeling about the first day of preschool can really help make the process go a lot easier.
If you believe that your child might be feeling a little bit apprehensive and nervous about their first day of preschool, encourage them to talk about it with you. Separation anxiety in children is normal and very common. Tell them that it’s okay to feel the way that they are feeling and make sure they know going to school isn’t a bad thing. You want to make sure that they feel extremely comfortable about leaving you and encourage them to talk about all the fun things they did during their day.
Act it out
If you notice that your child is extremely nervous about their first day of preschool, act it out at home! Set up a mock preschool in your living room and pretend to be the teacher. Do things with them that they might do in school. If your child gets the gist of what is going to go on during their first day of preschool, they are less likely to be nervous. Your child will be familiar with how the day is going to roll and might actually end up becoming excited about it. You can also dress them up in their ‘first day of preschool outfit’ to make the fake preschool seem like the real top preschool near you.
Check it out
When you brought your child to the dentist for the first time you might have taken them to the office before their first appointment to get a feel for the space and to meet the staff. You can actually do the same thing with preschool! Reach out to your child’s school and set up a time when you can bring them in for a tour. The tour can consist of showing them where their classroom will be, showing them where the bathrooms will be, and showing them where they will eat lunch. Giving them a sense what the space looks like and the knowledge of where things are is an easy way to set both of you up for success.
Don’t freak out
Sure, choosing a good preschool program is a big deal in a child’s life. It’s their step before kindergarten, post daycare center, and most likely their first step into any educational setting. But even though it can be nerve-wracking for you and your child, just remember that millions upon millions of parents have successfully made this same transition and lived to tell about it. So just keep in mind a few of the steps listed above before sending your child to preschool for the first time and both you and they are guaranteed to be just fine.