Sure, they will walk into a classroom for the first time, unsure of what learning is like and how it is to interact with other kids academically. But you’re in for a big change, too, since your baby isn’t quite so little anymore.
Don’t worry, though. Everyone will find it easy to adjust to preschool, no matter how many tears you shed on that first day. That’s because your child will come to love school and making friends, and you’ll see just how important early childhood education is to your son or daughter’s development — all that brilliance makes it easier to let go of the baby years.
To make the transition smooth for both of you, we’ve put together a list of the following five tips to help you before school starts, on the big day and beyond. So, grab your tissues and get ready, because it’s time to send your baby to school.
Visit School First
You can’t show up on the first day of school, drop your child off and expect them to be totally fine with being left in the classroom. Sure, some kids are so easygoing that they will, indeed, walk right in and wave goodbye like they’ve been going to preschool since birth. For most kids, though, you’ll have to ease them into the idea of going to school without you along for the ride.
So, speak to the teachers and directors at your child’s preschool to schedule a few dates where the two of you can come in and check out the building and the classroom. Some preschools will even allow you to leave your child for an hour or two, just to get used to the idea of being alone at school. That way, when it comes time for the real first day, your little one will confidently stroll into class because they’ve been there before — and you’ll feel better knowing they’re comfortable and content.
Don’t Make It Too Big of a Deal
While showing off your child’s new school is key to easing them into academia, you don’t want to build up the idea of school too much. Too much focus on the newness of school could make your child feel anxious about walking into a whole new world.
To that end, be sure that you keep your cool whenever you talk about school too. Kids can pick up on something as subtle as marital tension invisible to the outside world. Unsurprisingly, then, they can also sense if you’re nervous about the transition to school. A few chilled-out conversations about what school will be like will prepare your child without overwhelming them.
Figure Out the Logistics Far in Advance
Once you’ve secured your kid’s place at school and their start date, you’ll want to iron out all of the little details you’ll need to have in place before the big day. These tasks are helpful when sending your child to preschool for the first time because they eliminate so much stress and help you avoid forgetting anything important as you head to school the first time.
Obviously, you’ll want to fill out all of the forms your school requires and ask your friends and family members to serve as additional emergency contacts. Then, figure out how you’ll get your child to and from school each day. The night before, you’ll want to prep everything so that your little one gets out of the door on time. A first-day outfit, breakfast, lunch and snacks, if the school requires you to bring them, are all things to think about before your alarm goes off on the morning of.
Master the Art of the Drop Off
It probably won’t be perfect on your first try, but envisioning the ideal drop-off will help you get into the groove. The first thing you should do is bring your child over to the teacher for a nice re-introduction. At that point, the teacher will probably start chatting with your son or daughter to start building comfort and trust. At this point, you can just step back and observe.
If your child doesn’t cling to you, resist the urge to sneak out. Say goodbye and make your exit brisk but never disappear on your little one. They’ll end up feeling abandoned if they don’t get to say a proper goodbye.
Of course, the majority of first-day drop-offs come with a little bit of resistance from preschoolers-to-be. Try walking around the classroom and showing your child the toys, books and academic activities available to play with — read a book or play a bit with them before you go. You can also come up with a funny face you share, a special goodbye handshake or even promise to wave from outside of the classroom window, so your child knows you’re leaving but is a little excited to go through the routine you’ve created.
No matter what happens, do not show your child that you are also pretty sad about dropping them off. Save your tears for the car, if they’re coming. Seeing you cry will only make your child more upset and anxious.
Relish in the Routine
Great news — once you and your child get into the swing of preschool things, you’re going to love it. A regimented schedule and familiar faces and activities will make both of you feel comfortable and happy with the decision to start education. As such, it’s your job to ensure your child has a routine at home too. Everything from a relaxing nighttime ritual to a strict bedtime to morning prep will have you both de-stressed and ready for the day ahead.
With time, it will all get easier. You’ll both love school. Your child will learn and make friends, and you’ll get to watch the incredible developments they make in the classroom. And, in no time at all, they’ll be turning their tassels and moving on to kindergarten — and a wonderful preschool experience will set them up for success for years to come.