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Preschool is a significant step in your child’s life — it’s the first stage of formal learning and also the first time they’ll be spending time away from you. Here are some tips to make the transition easier for you and your little one
Kate watched her sister Lara leave for school every day on a school bus. She and her mom would drop Lara off at the gate and Kate would wave till the bus turned the corner. The 2-year-old tried to imagine what school must be like, maybe it had a huge play area where you could play all day, or a room full of toys and chocolates! The possibilities were endless. She dreamed of riding on the school bus too — it must be so special, she thought.
Curious, she asked her mom: “Ma, what is school?”
“It’s a place where you learn and discover new things every day!” her mother replied.
“When can I go to school?”
“Soon, my dear.”
“So, will you wave goodbye to me as you do for Lara?”
Her mother, noticing a look of sudden worry on Kate’s face, hugged her and said: “I’ll drop you off at school and pick you up every day. I used to do the same for Lara until she was old enough to take the school bus.”
Starting preschool is a huge step for children and parents. It’s not only the first step in your child’s education, but it’s also the beginning of a journey of self-realization and discovery for your child. Preschool is exciting, as it comes with wonderful learning experiences. The experiences might also be intimidating for your child as they learn to spend time in a new environment without you. Here are some tips to ease the transition for you and your child.
Check with your child’s preschool and see if you can take them for a visit before the date of joining. During this time, they can meet other children and teachers, see what they do, and even make a few friends. This way, when your child starts attending on day one, the school will already be a familiar place.
To reduce separation anxiety, talk to your child about the routine you both can follow when they start going to preschool. Decide on a bedtime and wake-up time such that your child gets enough rest before school. You can also create new routines like picking out the clothes to wear the night before school and planning the lunch menu. Explain how you’ll drop them off at school every morning and be back on time to pick them up after school.
Role-play with your child to help them get used to the idea of what happens in a preschool. You can play the role of the parent and the teacher. Let your child and their toys be the students in your class. Practice all the routines when you play the parent role — dropping your child off at the school, saying goodbye, and picking them up again. When you play the teacher’s role, talk to your child about what you’ll be doing during the time at school. You can also switch roles — let your child be the teacher and you the student.
Talk to your child about your school experiences – how you felt on the first day, the friends you made, your favorite teacher, and the games you were good at. If you have any photographs of your school days, show them to your child. Stick to positive experiences and memories.
Start the new routine with your child from day one of preschool. Sticking to a routine in the morning will help your child feel confident. As they become familiar with the routine, they’ll look forward to each step in the routine. Keep it simple so that it doesn’t overwhelm your child. You can even call it the “getting ready game” so that your child looks forward to it every morning.
This is a crucial part of the day — saying goodbye at the preschool. Try to keep your goodbye short and positive. You can even come up with a goodbye ritual to make your preschooler feel better — a fist bump, a hug, or a special handshake will do. Remind your child that you’ll be back to pick them up soon. Keep it short, but don’t sneak away either. In case your child is very anxious, ask the preschool if your child can bring any comfort toys with them till they settle in. Don’t compare your kid with other children who seem to handle the situation better.
Talking to your child’s teachers can help ease your stress. Talk to them about who takes them to class once you drop them off, what classes your child will attend, what they do if a child asks for the parents and anything else you’d like to know. Ask the teachers if your child is upset after you leave, and regularly check on their progress. Inform the teachers about any allergies your child may have.
When you meet your child after school, ask them what they feel about it, what they learned, if they made any new friends, or if they felt upset about something. Appreciate your child for all the little “big” achievements — trying something new, meeting new people, or overcoming their fears.
The transition to preschool can take time for your child — days, weeks, or even months. Have patience and remind yourself that children will overcome separation anxiety gradually. Your child learns from you, so positively motivate them that preschool will get better. Remember that preschool is a life lesson for your child and you, so make the best of it.
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