The first day of preschool is a huge milestone for kids, so no matter how bittersweet the day is for you, it’s a good idea to get them ready beforehand. Many kids have trouble separating from parents or don’t want to leave home. Others might be excited until the big day arrives and then freak out. Get your little one ready for the first day of preschool and it’ll be smooth sailing for everyone.
1. Visit the Classroom
You know how nerve-wracking it can be to go to a new place, so it’s safe to assume your child feels the same way. Visit the classroom before the first day of preschool so your little one knows where he’ll hang his backpack, put his lunchbox and where to find toys and art supplies. Point out the bathrooms too. Many preschools host an open house for this purpose, but if yours doesn’t, call and arrange a visit for a week or two before school starts.
2. Meet the Teacher
Many preschool classrooms have several teachers that alternate throughout the day. If the teacher who will be present when your child attends isn’t there the day you visit, go back and let your child meet and greet her teacher before the first day. She’ll be a lot more comfortable if she knows who will be in charge and whom she can go to for help if she needs it.
3. Organize the Night before
Nothing will ruin your preschooler’s first day like rushing around like a mad mom in the morning. Prevent the chaos and frustration by getting as much ready the night before as possible. Lay out clothes, place shoes and backpack by the front door, and pack a lunch before you go to bed. In the morning, you can enjoy breakfast, brush teeth and get dressed without running around looking for everything you need. Put show and tell in your child’s backpack before bedtime and in the coming months, check his folder, sign papers and remove items he’s done with.
4. Play School
Not only is playing school a fun and easy way to pass the time, but it helps your child know what to expect in her real classroom. Use stuffed animals for classmates and pretend to get in line, sit down for snacks and enjoy circle time. Color, read books, do projects and practice sitting still in a fun and relaxed way and your preschooler will be set.
5. Practice Skills
Yes, you probably do most everything for your child, but a teacher could never achieve this with a class full of preschoolers. Help your little one practice going to the bathroom, zipping her jacket, opening her yogurt tube, putting her shoes on and buttoning her pants so she can take care of her own needs at school. Most teachers will also require that kids hang their backpack, turn in their folder and put their lunch in the right place, so try and refrain from doing it for her.
6. Be Ready for Questions
No matter how excited your child is for his first day, chances are he’ll have lots of questions. Be prepared to answer them over and over as he comes to terms with this new phase in his life. He may want to know what he’ll be doing when you arrive to pick him up, what happens if he needs to go to the bathroom during an activity and when he’ll get to play outside. Be patient and understanding because your preschooler needs you to calm his fears and get him ready for this huge step.
7. Expect Tears
When my son started preschool he assured me beforehand that he would cry and it would break my heart. He was right! He did cry, and pretty hysterically. I held it together until I got back to the car before I lost it. Be prepared for the horror of the separation. This is especially true for kids who have never been to daycare and have spent all their time with mom at home. Reassure your child, but don’t give in to his demands to go home. With time, you’ll both get used to the process, he’ll learn to love preschool and you’ll learn to function without your precious angel by your side all day.
Do you dread your child’s first day of preschool? I’ve done it three times and it isn’t easy, but it does improve with time. You’ll learn to treasure your time together even more, but kids need preschool to get them ready for kindergarten. How will you cope on the first day?