Preschool is a place where children can not only interact with their peers but also acquire valuable lessons and skills. It also prepares them for elementary school and beyond. Going to preschool can also be emotional for both parents and the child. It can be challenging for the child since he/she is entering a new environment with unfamiliar people. This can be a source of mixed emotions, anticipation and anxiety for the child as well as the parent. To lessen problems for both of you, it is important to be familiar with the setting and be comfortable with the decision to take your child to preschool.
Easing the fears
Help prepare your child for pre-school by talking to him about it to him and introducing him to some of the activities that take place there such as scribbling with crayons. This will make some things familiar to him when he goes for his first class.
You should also visit the school with the child before school begins. This makes entry into pre-school easier for the child as the child has the opportunity to familiarize himself with his classroom and school environment. Let him freely explore the classroom and interact with other kids if he so desires so he becomes comfortable. During these visits, you are also able to meet the teachers and discover some of the preschool activities and routines so that you can introduce them at home. Take advantage of the visits to find out the first week of school will be structured to help the child make the transition and how the teacher deals with the teary first days.
Finally, provide support but don’t overemphasize the change. Don’t feel too worried, guilty or anxious about this change. The child can pick up on these emotions and will only make them more anxious and afraid of the change. The calmer you are, the more confident the child is likely to be.
When you take your child to preschool on the first day, reintroduce your child to the teacher then take a step back and allow the teacher and child to start relating. This assures the child that he/she is safe with the teacher. Stay calm if the child refuses to participate or clings to you. Try to assure the child and lovingly say a short goodbye. Try to avoid prolonged goodbyes and remember that most children will adjust well once their parents have left. Whatever you do, resist the temptation to sneak out since doing so might make the child feel abandoned. It also helps to have a farewell ritual that is consistent, whether it’s a goofy goodbye face or a simple wave outside the class window. Stick to this ritual to help make leaving easier.
It also helps to have a staff member available to help the child transition when you drop him/her off at school. This is important because some children, especially reluctant ones, might need the loving attention of a caregiver before they join the other kids in class.