Helping Your Child to Adjust to Preschool
There are plenty of benefits of preschool – it can be a great place for your child to interact with peers and to learn valuable life lessons such as how to share, take turns, be companionate and kind towards others. Preschool can also prepare children for kindergarten and beyond.
But going to preschool does come with its fair share of emotions, for both the parent and the child. For a child, entering a new preschool environment filled with unfamiliar children and teacher can cause both anxiety and anticipation. For parents, there may be mixed emotions over whether your child is ready for preschool. The more comfortable you are about your decision to place your child in preschool and the more familiar the setting can be made for your child, the fewer problems you – and your little one – will encounter.
EASING YOUR CHILD’S FEAR
Spend time talking with your child about preschool even before it starts. Before the first day, gradually introduce your child to activities that often take place in a classroom. A child accustomed to scribbling with paper and crayons at home, for example, will find it comforting to discover the same crayons and paper in his or her classroom.
Visiting Creative Play Preschool a few times before school starts can also ease the entrance into unfamiliar territory. This offers you the opportunity to not only get familiar with me as your child’s teacher and ask about routines and common activities, but to then introduce some of those routines and activities to your child at home. While you’re in the classroom, let your child explore and observe the class in his or her own way and choose whether to interact with other children. The idea is to familiarize your child with the classroom and to let him or her get comfortable.
Although it’s necessary for you to acknowledge the important step your child is taking and to provide support, too much emphasis on the change may just make your child’s anxiety worse. Young children can pick up on their parents’ nonverbal cues. If you feel guilty or worried about leaving your child at school, he or she will probably sense that. The more calm and assured you are about your choice to send your child to preschool, the more confident your child will be.
THE FIRST DAY
When you enter the classroom on the first day, I will be there to welcome your child warmly and I will then encourage you to step back and let him or her set the tone. This will allow me to begin forming a relationship with your child. Your endorsement of me will show your child that he or she will be happy and safe in the teacher’s care.
If your child clings to you or refuses to participate in the class, don’t get upset – this may only upset your child more. Follow the guidelines described by me, and go at your child’s pace.
Suggestions for leaving your child at preschool are simple but can be hard on a parent. Always say a loving good – bye to your child, but once you do, you should leave promptly. Never sneak out. As tempting as it may be, leaving without saying good – bye may make your child feel abandoned, whereas a long farewell scene might only serve to reinforce a child’s sense that preschool is a bad place.
A consistent and predictable farewell ritual can make leaving easier. Some parents may choose to wave from an outside window or make a funny good – bye face, whereas others may read a short book before parting. Transitional objects – a family picture, a special doll, or a favorite blanket – can also help comfort your child.
Regardless of whether your child is eager or reluctant to go to preschool, I as your child’s teacher I will be ready to help with the transfer from your care to the classroom when you arrive in the morning. Some children may jump right in with their classmates, whereas others might want a private cuddle and a story from me before joining the group.
- Also keep in mind that most children do well once their parents leave.