I'm feeling pretty nostalgic that my baby is going to preschool come September. My son and I have spent that past 3 years together, so going to school will be a big change for him. I'm excited for him to socialize with other toddlers, and I'm equally giddy about having a few hours to myself!
In the hopes of making school a positive experience, I've done research to educate and prepare myself for this new adventure. There will most likely be tears and resistance from my son given that he's extremely strong willed.
Picture Credit: Pixaby
Katrina Green, a certified early childhood special education teacher said,
"For children, the main source of anxiety around entering preschool is that they have absolutely no idea what to expect. They have spent the first three to four years learning the rules and routines of their family life and they are completely unfamiliar with the new rules and routines they will encounter."
So after reading that quote I'm feeling anxious for my son and want to help him prepare for the coming changes. Here are some tips:
Give Your Child Time to Adjust
Give your child time to adjust. My son's preschool teacher was upfront and let us know that it could take 6-8 weeks for our son to feel comfortable going to school. It's helpful to have a timeline so that when my son potentially resists going, we know to push through and do our best to maintain consistency.
Help Your Child's Teacher Learn
Our teacher gave us her email and told us that we can send her some information about our son to help her get to know him. I really loved this idea because it allows his teacher to "get to know him" before actually beginning school. I think this is a great idea to propose to teachers if they seem open to the process. Suggested info includes: favorite toys/characters, coping mechanisms when your child is upset, and favorite things he/she likes to do.
Pack a Comfort Item
My son has a beloved teddy "lovie" that he uses for sleep and comfort. I'm not sure if preschool allows items like this, but I think it may be worth packing in case of an emergency. My hope is that he will outgrow his teddy, but I know it reassures him during hard times.
Get to Know the Lay of the Land
Most preschools have a park, so we love to go to my son's "special school park" to play. I like to use these opportunities to tell him about school and how much fun it will be. This way when we drive to school, I can tell him that part of his school day is playing at the special park.
Have Your Child Watch Drop Off or Pick Up
Now I realize this may sound strange, but hear me out! My son is interested in what other children are doing – so one day we happened to be at the park when school was getting out. He was fascinated by the process, so I've taken him a few times to teach him how kids leave their parents and then get to see them in a little bit. We just watch from afar and talk about how preschool works.
Picture Credit: Pixaby
Purchase Special School Only Items
Going to the store and picking out school items is fun and creates a sense of excitement for what's to come. Let your child pick out their own backpack, snacks, and school supplies. Talk about the items at home and what they will get to do with them at school. My personal favorite is letting them pick out a special snack they don't usually get to have for school only!
I know that my entire family will probably shed tears during the first few days of school, but I'm taking comfort in knowing that this is what's best for my son. His teacher will send a text letting us know he's doing OK (OK as in not screaming for more than a few minutes). Needless to say, she will be getting some awesome gifts throughout the year.