You feel your child is ready for preschool and you want him to have a good experience. What can you do to make sure your child has a great start?
Once you’ve chosen which school you’d like your child to attend, here are five general things you can do to help your child transition from home to preschool.
1. Make note of the schedule of the class or program your child will attend. Try to get your child’s home routine as close to that schedule as possible.
Many classrooms have a set nap and lunch time which cannot be deviated from. Find out ahead of time whether they are able to accommodate a child who, for example, does not nap or who needs a different lunch time. If this is not possible, it’s best to try to move your schedule to match theirs.
This doesn’t sound like it might be overly important. However, for example, if your child likes to take her nap at 10 o’clock in the morning and that happens to be the time when the class is doing the majority of the fun or educational activities, there will be a conflict and your child might miss out on the things you’re bringing her there for in the first place.
This doesn’t mean you have to change your home routine too drastically. Just try to change the things that you can change and that you feel will be the most important.
2. Make a list of your child’s likes and dislikes or anything you feel his teachers should know about him.
Is he fearful of large groups of children? Does he like to sleep with his teddy bear? Do loud noises frighten him? Is art his favorite activity?
Although some classrooms might not be able to change their routines, it’s always helpful to make the teachers aware of your child’s temperament, whether there is a special comfort item he needs to make him feel better or anything you might feel his teachers need to know.
Most teachers will appreciate your efforts in helping them to get to know your child.
3. Always provide extra clothing.
In addition to potty accidents, preschool is messy. The children are participating in art activities and playing on the playground (possibly after rain or snow). Having her own clothes to change into when she needs to will make your child feel better than having to wear the school’s extra clothes or having to remain in dirty or wet clothing.
4. Once your child begins preschool, be consistent with his school schedule and routines.
Whether he will be attending full time or part time, try not to change his school schedule too much from week to week. Children need to have routines they can count on.
Sometimes things will come up that force your to change his days or times of attendance. Keep in mind that the group dynamics may change from day to day.
Things to think about are: Will the children he plays with be there on the days he will change to? Will he be missing out on favorite activities if his days/times change? Will his regular teachers be there on the new days?
Also, speaking with his teachers about schedule changes will allow them to help to make those changes easier for him.
Preschool children can adapt to changes in their routine or schedule if those changes aren’t too drastic or too frequent. The idea is to make preschool something he will look forward to, enjoy and feel secure attending.
5. Keep your attitude positive and let your actions match that positive attitude.
Whatever qualms or reservations you have about your child attending preschool, don’t let her feel them. Preschool age children are learning to trust their new teachers and environment and they are very adept at picking up on their parents’ feelings. And, although children can read their parents’ emotions, they aren’t mature enough to understand the reasons behind those feelings.
For example, you may have a favorite teacher that you like to leave your child with in the morning. Waiting for that teacher to arrive before leaving might give your child the impression that he/she is the only teacher you feel comfortable leaving her with. Your child might begin to feel the same way. What will happen if that teacher is absent one day? Your child might not wish to be left with another teacher and that can set your child up to have a bad day that day. Or, your child might begin to mistrust other teachers because they aren’t your favorites. A cheerful and positive attitude at drop off regardless of which teacher is present will help your child start the day positively.
Another example is when a parent feels guilty or nervous about having to leave the child at school and offers her too many goodbye hugs and lingers at drop off. If mom or dad has trouble leaving her, she might begin to have a fear of being left at school. In order to feel secure at school, children need to feel that their parents are comfortable with them being at school. Offer her a goodbye hug and remind her that she will see you later at pickup time.
By all means, if you have worries or concerns discuss them with the teachers or the administration when your child isn’t present. You need to feel securing leaving your child at school, too. Having your concerns addressed will help both you and your child have a better experience.
This is by no means a complete list of the things you will need to do when your child attends preschool. These are, however, five important things you can do that will help make your child’s preschool experience a good one.