Back to School: Preparing Your Toddler for Preschool

Teacher And Pupils Using Wooden Shapes In Montessori School

So, the big day is finally arriving: Your child is starting preschool!

How could you not have mixed feelings?

Proud! Your baby is growing up!

Scared! Your baby is growing up too fast!

This is a big transition for your toddler — and you. Let’s face it, saying goodbye that first day is going to be tough – but, as always, your goal is to find the right balance of protecting your child and preparing your child for anything that comes along.

Here are five tips to make this big milestone memorable and FUN.

·         Role play. Give your child an idea of how the big day will go. This could include reading, telling stories, taking naps, or an “official” lunch time. You can even act it out to get your child used to a more structured routine.

·         Talk it out. Listen to what your child is – and isn’t – saying. Discuss the things to look forward to, which friends might be in the same class, all the new friends to make, and all the adventures to come. Also, casually ask if there is anything that he or she is not sure about. Try to remember something you were nervous about as a child, and explain how it all worked out fine. Remind your child that the teacher, and you, are here to help every step of the way.

·         Go shopping together. Pick out a brand new backpack, and some new clothes and shoes. Make it an adventure. You don’t need to break the bank. The goal is to send the positive message that this is an “official event” and something to be excited about.

·         Visit ahead of time. Visit the preschool. If possible, meet-and-greet with the teacher. You can ask the school to set up a conference. You should not only discuss but also practice the daily routine a few times with your child. That way there will be as few surprises as possible when the big day comes. From getting out the door to saying goodbye, let your child feel like he or she has already mastered the routine before it happens. You can also read a book together (there are lots of great books about kids heading to preschool.)

·         Anticipate some hiccups. No matter how well you plan, there is sure to be some anxiety on both parts. The key is to be ready. Even if your child seems fine, separation anxiety sometimes doesn’t happen…until it happens! If your child has a meltdown, don’t panic. Take as long as he or she needs to get settled in the new environment, and give reassurance that you’ll be back before he knows it. You may be surprised to find your child so distracted by new friends and toys to not even notice when you slip out. (Don’t panic about that either. Your toddler still loves mommy and daddy.) If you think it will help, let your child take a favorite book or toy to school, as company during the transition. Most importantly, remind your child of your love, and how proud you are and can’t wait to hear all about the big day when they get back home!

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Categories: Parenting Tips
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