5 Tips for Your Preschooler’s First Day of School
Whether you dread it or love it, it’s that time of year again- back to school! But if your little one is starting preschool, it’s not “back”, it’s “starting”. Most children feel a mixture of excited, nervous and a little scared on the first day of school because of all the big changes. New teachers, new friends, and a new routine can be a lot for a child to handle. Luckily, these "new" worries only stick around for a little while. Let's find out how to make starting preschool as pleasant as possible, for both of you. Make sure your child:
Visits The School Beforehand
Don’t let their first day of school, which is probably a full six or eight hours, be their initial visit to the school. Many preschools have an open house before the official beginning of the year so your child can meet their new teacher and become familiar with their classroom. Attend this if at all possible. The school will also allow you to tour and schedule visits to the school beforehand, so if your child is especially apprehensive, it may be a good idea to visit more than once before the big day. It may also make you feel more comfortable knowing exactly what kind of environment he or she will be in all day long.
Gets Enough Sleep
According to WebMD, children around age four need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a day. This may include a short nap period, which many preschools include in their daily routine. Make sure your child goes down for the night sometime before 9 p.m., so they aren’t tired in the morning. A grumpy child will only make the first day of school more stressful for everyone, and not give their new teachers and friends a very good first impression.
Eats a Healthy Breakfast
The best way to start the day is with a healthy breakfast. It’s easy to rush the morning and hand your child a poptart or donut, but those sugar foods won’t stick with them very long. Try giving them something substantial that won’t necessarily take a lot of time to prepare like a muffin, granola bar, or bowl of oatmeal. They’ll make it to snack time without a grumbling stomach and have the ability to concentrate on learning new things. Many preschools offer a healthy breakfast as part of their routine. If this is the case be sure to arrive at school before breakfast is served.
Has a Goodbye Routine
It might be tempting to drop your child off and bolt from the room to avoid a long goodbye, but your little one will feel more afraid if you suddenly disappear. Instead, develop a goodbye ritual you are both comfortable with. This could be anything you and your child decide on, such as a special hug or handshake followed by a silly song. Once you've said your goodbyes, get him or her involved in an activity and leave so that your child doesn't become preoccupied by your presence.
Doesn’t See You Upset
If a child sees their parent sad or crying, they will think there is something to fear. Children can pick up on your mood, so if you're nervous and anxious when you drop your child off, he or she will likely take on your attitude. Give yourself a pep talk ahead of time so you don’t act upset on the first day. It’s a big step for them (and you!), so it’s natural to be emotional. Starting preschool is the best thing for your child, educationally and socially. Remind yourself of this and keep repeating it as often as you need it. Remain calm and be upbeat, even if you don't feel 100 percent cheerful.
The start of preschool is a milestone that's often anticipated with great excitement and joy, but also with lots of crying, uncertainty, and resistance- from both children and parents! But a first day without tears is possible. Always remember that starting preschool is a positive step for both you and your little student. The human brain develops most rapidly during the first few years of life, making preschool an extremely important period of your child’s life. For more relevant information and tips, download our free eBook “10 Reasons Why Kindergarten Is Too Late.”