Have you decided that it is time for your little one to attend preschool? Are you ready to become acquainted with new friends, fun activities and wonderful teachers? Are you a little bit anxious about saying goodbye to your child?
Here I have summarized some suggestions to help you and your child on your first day of preschool. Feel free to add or change the steps to help your child feel most comfortable during his/her first day at preschool.
Before the FIRST DAY:
1. Visit the preschool with your child before the first day.
Knowing one of the peers ahead of time can make the transition easier.
If you plan to stay the entire day at school, let your child know.
2. Never sneak out!! Your child will not forget about you, so leaving without saying goodbye will not ease the transition. Instead it could create a much more challenging departure in the future. Remember you are building trust!
3. Make eye contact with the teacher. See if he or she is available. When the teacher joins you at the activity, let the teacher and your child know that you will be leaving in 5 minutes and state the time you plan to return.
4. Be consistent: leave promptly after you said you were leaving. If parents’ seem unsure and worry, the child will feel it. Your child might react to your statement of “I’m leaving” by clinging to you or crying…it is important that you comfort your child by saying “I hear you, I will return at x time to pick you up, you will stay with Ms. Susana.
5. Develop a goodbye ritual. Your child and teacher may choose to walk you to the door or gate; however, your child can stay with his/her activity and say goodbye from there. Children often find comfort in developing a ritual when saying goodbye. This might include their parent pushing them on the swing for 5 minutes, reading a story together, or two kisses and two hugs, etc. Agree on a procedure and then stick to it. Or you might already have your own ritual.
2. Have a relaxing time after preschool. Your child might be overwhelmed for a few weeks to months after starting school, don’t plan other activities for your child, so she/he and you can process the information and emotions related to starting a school.
3. Listen To – what your child might want to tell you about his/her new experiences. Try not to judge or tell your child how he should feel or do instead.
4. Create a book about this event and read together before going to bed.Separation is a lifelong process. Separation anxiety is a natural part of child development. Children learn that even though mom or dad say “goodbye,” they will come back. Children learn to trust another adult in their lives. Parents learn to trust that teachers care for the safety and well-being of every child. Parents learn to “let go” and allow their child some autonomy. Learning to successfully separate from their parent and settle into their peer group is often a major focus of the first few months of preschool.
Wishing you all the best in the difficult yet exciting journey of parenting!