There are many things a child can love about preschool. As a parent, you imagine it being a great adventure for your kid. However, many children actually find preschool to be an interruption to a comfortable routine that is not wanted.
The way a child will ultimately handle this transition will depend on the reactions of their parents. Do not make the mistake of dismissing fears by saying “You’re a big boy now and big boys don’t cry.” However, it is important that parents avoid being over emotional as well.
Since this is a big milestone for both you and your child, here are some things that can help:
Be an Early Bird
Even adults feel awkward when walking into a room filled with people. Imagine the feeling of a child arriving at a new school when everyone is already there. Until your child is comfortable, plan to arrive a few minutes early if possible. Or if your child already knows a classmate, another option is to arrange to arrive at the same time as their friend. This prevents your little one from having to enter the room alone.
Even though it may provoke a meltdown, it is important that your preschooler knows when you leave. Avoid long or dramatic departures but be loving, yet firm. Try saying “Have a great day; I love you.” Do not linger! Being decisive conveys a message to your child that he or she is in good hands. Once you have gone through the standard goodbye a few times, your child will know what is happening.
There may be days a child needs a parent to hang around for a bit. Take a few minutes to look at a book or work on an activity. If your child wants you to stay longer, talk with the teacher to see if it’s possible.
If the problem continues after a couple of weeks, tell your child you will be back, and return in 15 minutes. Gradually increasing the time you are away will help them adjust.
Prepare for School
A little preparation can go a long way:
-Make a visit to the school with your child. Let him observe activities and meet the teacher.
-Get phone numbers of future classmates and arrange playdates two weeks in advance.
-If your child will be bringing lunch or snacks to school, shop for a new lunchbox and let her choose.
-Begin new routines, including earlier bedtime and laying out clothes the evening before.
-Explain what your child should expect. Give as many details as possible.
-Mark the days your child will attend school on a special calendar.
Ideally, the school will be run by teachers and administrators who truly care about children’s happiness and will work to solve problems. Let your child’s teacher know about any concerns regarding transitions and ask for suggestions. Having this type of open dialog can be extremely useful.