PREPARING YOUR CHILD, AND YOURSELF, FOR PRESCHOOL
If you're counting down the days until you have to enroll your child in preschool, you have most likely felt separation anxiety. Also, you're probably wondering if your child will make friends or be able to learn in a new place.
Separation anxiety is a very normal aspect of development for all people. Two ways to combat this common obstacle: Resist the urge to "sneak out" of the classroom after drop-off, and give plenty of positive reinforcement.
All parents dread seeing their children walk through the door crying because no one would play with them. Fortunately, there are many easy ways you can encourage and help your child to make new friends. Introducing your child to relaxed social situations before school starts can be helpful. For example, consider looking for an age-appropriate playgroup that meets at the local library.
When you think of school, you automatically think of teaching. Your child has learned many things with you, but how can you be sure that he or she will excel in this new environment, with a new teacher? One of the most important aspects of preschool is the emotional and social development. With positive reinforcement and working a little extra on each of these areas at home, your child is sure to learn and grow.
Need more positive reinforcement yourself? Here are seven tips to make the first day (and every day after) painless:
- Talk about preschool frequently, and get your child excited to start this new chapter in his or her life.
- Remember how fun it was to shop for school supplies and clothes? Let your child be a part of the prep for this yearly adventure.
- Children need to be reminded that everything is OK. No matter how many times your child needs you to ease a fear, be supportive and use a pleasant tone of voice.
- Drop-offs can be hard for you, too. Even if you feel choked up, give your child the confidence he or she needs through the tone of your voice.
- Feel free to take a little extra time in the classroom to make sure your child is comfortable (and to make sure you're comfortable, too).
- Don't intrude in the classroom experience on the first day. You may feel your child needs you, but he or she needs to learn that the teacher is an adult to be trusted, too.
- Keep the positive feelings about school going strong by asking your child what the best part of each day was. By helping your child learn to focus on the positives, even the most bothersome things will only matter half as much.
Keeping up to date with your child's progress will help you feel at ease throughout the school year. Ask the teacher questions about your child's educational and social milestones occasionally to ensure he or she is adapting well to the new learning environment. Eventually, you and your child will both be adjusted to the new structure and routine of going to school, and you'll have so many wonderful things to talk about. You never know, you may learn new, amazing and exciting things about your child — and yourself — in the process.
Additional reading: "Preschool Builds An Important Foundation for Your Child"