Countdown to the First Day of Preschool
Starting preschool is a big step for a young child, and it can be both exciting and scary at the same time. On one hand, going to nursery school means doing fun activities and becoming a “big kid.” On the other hand, it also means being in an unfamiliar setting with a new set of people and rules. This can be especially frightening for children who aren’t used to being away from home.
Every child is different, and it’s hard to predict exactly how your child will react on the first day. But there are steps you can take to help address his fears and smooth the transition (for you as well as for your child) as much as possible. Let beginning preschool become a process that takes place over a few weeks rather than in one day when everything changes.
DURING THE SUMMER
You’ll be receiving plenty of forms to read and fill out before school starts, like updating your contact information, a list of people who are approved to sign your child in and out, and immunization records from your pediatrician. The school will also let you know whether there will be any opportunities to visit the school or meet other families before the school year begins.
Hold on to your brochures and admissions paperwork on other preschools for now. All that research may come in handy for future reference. You might need it if you have another child who will be entering preschool or decide to send your child to a different school later on.
Review School Policies and Schedule
Many preschools send home a parent handbook full of policies and procedures, staff contact information, the classroom schedule, a list of what to bring on the first day, and more. Learn what the phase-in procedure is and how the teachers will help your child transition to the new classroom. Be sure that you understand the school’s policies about meals, drop-off and pickup, discipline, and so on.
Review the School Calendar
Note when school is closed for holidays, vacations, parent-teacher conferences, and other days so that you can plan ahead for child care. Many families plan vacations to coincide with preschool breaks. You’ll also want to figure out drop-off and pickup logistics, such as which parent will drop off on which days, what time class starts, and where you can park. Allow enough time in your schedule, especially for the first few weeks, so that drop-off won’t be too rushed.
Make the Most of the Summer
Summer is the time to get your child ready for preschool. If you think it would help your child get comfortable in group settings and used to being away from you, sign him up for a weekly art class or a weeklong day camp. Find out whether a community or parenting center has a class designed to help children get used to being in a preschool environment. If the school has a summer program (and your child meets the age requirement), that can also be a great way to meet future classmates and ease into the preschool environment. Or use this time to just be together as a family or take a family vacation. Before you know it, your child will have a schedule, and it will be harder to do things spontaneously.
Excerpted from How to Choose the Best Preschool For Your Child.
Used by permission.