Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.
Sending your child to the preschool for the first time can be an overwhelming experience, as much for you as it is for the kid. It is perfectly normal to feel mixed emotions like excitement, happiness, apprehension, and confusion. The child will have the same feelings, but the challenge may be a tad bigger for them. After all, they will leave you and the home for the first time and have strangers and cranky kids around.
Daunting as the whole thing sounds, the experience is something that every parent and child go through, and they manage well enough. Fortunately, it does not require a lot of work to handle the stress. You can do little things to help the child deal with pre-schooling challenges and get comfortable with the new phase of life. Here are some tried and tested tips from American parents you can try.
Prepare yourself first
Surprisingly, parents often experience separation anxiety while sending a child to school for the first time. It is hard to believe that your tiny little toddler is all set to embark on the new journey. You may still think that the little one needs your help to eat, pee, and do everything else. While the protective instinct is natural for parents, you will only pass the anxiety to the kid by being stressed out. Preparing yourself is as crucial as making the child ready for the experience. Relax and breathe easy because you aren’t doing anything different from the rest of the world. Feel happy as your tiny wonder takes the first step towards growing up. Once you are all set, you can go ahead to prepare the child.
Start working with the child early
Even as you need to be emotionally ready to let go as a parent, preparing the child should be your top priority. Thankfully, most parents in the US understand the value of making their kids school-ready and take the right initiatives early. Speak to them about the preschool, tell them happy stories, and show pictures and videos that will make them excited about exploring the new world. If you have an elder child who already goes to school, the younger one will probably feel more comfortable with the idea. You can plan a visit to the school with the child so that they can see how the place looks like. The sooner you start the preparation, the better.
Pick a school judiciously
Another crucial aspect of preschool preparation is choosing the right option. It is best to have a checklist of things you are looking for and start with some research on schools nearby. There will be plenty of options in your area, and a checklist will make the search easier. For example, if you live in the Brooklyn area, you can look for private schools Brooklyn and check their websites to see what they offer. Ideally, look for a school that offers a mix of academics and extra-curricular activities so that your child can get the advantage of holistic development. Seek recommendations from fellow parents to get genuine information.
Create a consistent go-to school routine
Once you are sorted with the pre-planning and school selection, you have to get down to real work. Creating a consistent go-to school routine for the kid is the best way to start because children thrive on routine. They must know what to expect to be comfortable. At the same time, you must also let them know what is expected of them. Every day should start with a consistent morning ritual, from waking up on time to getting dressed, having breakfast, and happily departing home. You can have small talk with the kid as you drive them to school. Ask questions and listen patiently. The interaction will make them a lot more comfortable about the day ahead.
Make a quick departure from the school
As a doting parent, you may want to stick around a little longer at school during the initial days. It sounds good to ease the child’s anxieties and make them feel comfortable and safe in a new environment. But make sure that the practice does not extend beyond the first few days because you will not want the kid to get used to it. You may end up doing more harm than good as the kid will not be able to get involved in the activities at school or engage with others as long as you are around. Once the child is settled, you must drop them off and say a prompt goodbye to let them ease into the routine.
Send along their favorites
The initial few days are perhaps the toughest, so do your bit to make the child comfortable. Pack their favorites so that they have something they are happy about. It could be a meal they love so that they wait for lunch hours happily. You can even plan small surprises in their lunch box every day. Ask the teacher if you can give them goodies like a doll, a stuffed animal, or a picture of the family to carry to school. Let the child know that it is just a temporary practice and they cannot make it a long-term habit.
Involve the teacher
Your child’s teacher is the best person to help if it seems hard to deal with the separation anxiety or reluctance about going to school. Teachers have ample experience of dealing with such issues, and they are more than willing to help. A teacher can also help you with some counseling on the parental stress you may be dealing with. Once the teacher is involved, you will probably see things getting on track sooner than you expect. They will just give a little extra attention to the kid and make them comfortable.
Starting preschool is a challenging transition for both kids and parents. However, you can rest assured that the child will cope up sooner or later. Just give them time to do things at their pace and manage your stress as well.