Tips for the first day of preschool
First-day jitters: We’ve all had them, so don’t be surprised if you and your child feel a few butterflies before the first day of preschool. It’s a big transition, and as exciting as it is, it can also feel scary.
Talk it out: You’ve probably been communicating with your child about what to expect in preschool for some time now, but the night before and/or on the way to school the first day, make a particular effort to ask your child to express how he is feeling, as much as she can. Ask if she’s excited. Ask if she’s nervous. If she says she is, probe a little deeper and ask why. You may be able to allay some of her fears and build her sense of confidence. Reiterate what your child can expect the first day and what things you don’t yet know but will find out. Don’t be afraid to talk about your own feelings. If you’re feeling excited and nervous, tell her. Or if you remember a first day of school of your own, share your stories. It will help her feel less alone.
Give your child a sense of control: Starting something new and unknown can challenge your child’s sense of order and control. Combat this by allowing her to control everything she can: Let her pick her own outfit for the first day. Let her pick her own lunchbox. Maybe even let her decide what route she wants to take walking to school with you.
Set a bedtime and breakfast routine: Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep before the first day of preschool and that she eats a healthy breakfast. And make sure you get up early enough to get out the door with time to spare. There’s no reason to add to your stress level.
Be supportive but don’t linger too long: Once you’re in the preschool classroom door, allow the teacher to set the tone. Stay as long as parents are welcome or as long as your child needs you there to make a solid transition, but when it’s time to go, say goodbye warmly, gently and firmly. Let your child know you’re proud of her and confident in her. Give her a hug and a kiss, tell her to have a good day and that you love her, let her know that you’ll return at the end of the school day to pick her up and then leave. She’ll have an easier time separating if you give her a clear, attentive, firm goodbye.
Ask about the day: After you pick her up, ask her about her day. You may have better luck getting answers to specific questions – Who did you sit next to at lunch? What did you pick at choice time? – than vague ones. But try not to be too disappointed if you still don’t get much in the way of detail. Your child may still be sorting it all out, acclimating to a new sense of independence, and will tell you what she needs to tell you at her own pace. And if you have any specific concerns, you can always discuss them with the teacher.