PARENTING   |  9.1.15  |  Julie Rhodins

Happy boy in preschool - don't be nervous about your child starting preschool

Photo: Sergey Novikov

This time of year is a transition time, from easy summer days to a more structured school schedule.  If your child is attending a preschool for the first time and you have been fortunate enough to be mostly a stay-at-home mom during the lead-up formative years, you might feel torn about sending your child off to school.  Most parents focus on the big question — ‘is my child ready for preschool?’  But, many parents forget about themselves.  Are you nervous about your child starting preschool?  Do you feel sad and anxious about this transition?  Don’t worry.  Here are some steps you can take so that you’re just as prepared as your little one.  After all, these transitions should be filled with joy and love.  Let’s make it a good time for all!

5 Steps to Not Be Nervous About Your Child Starting Preschool 

5 Steps to Not Be Nervous About Your Child Starting Preschool

  1. Show Confidence.  Mighty Scholars Preschool Founder and Owner Angela Yap says that many parents get overly emotional on the big first day of preschool.  This can convey that you aren’t confident that your child will succeed.  Instead, prepare yourself to feel joyful and confident in your child’s next steps.  Make it a new routine.  And keep the tears at bay.  Says Yap —

When it comes to the big day, try not to make a big production out of saying goodbye, and keep your emotions at bay. Start the routine on the first day, and it will become a habit for the both of you. Plus, it will teach your child that they are able to handle it, without mommy or daddy at their side.

  1. Get a Routine Going.  Before the first day of preschool, start the get-ready morning routine going a week before preschool starts.  Find reasons to get up early together for special tasks or adventures — like breakfast in the park, an early morning visit to the zoo (see our tips on choosing a better zoo here), an A.M. grocery shopping trip.  Make it purposeful so that you and your child have to get up, get showered, and are ready to face the day.  This way, the routine will already have taken root when the preschool day comes and won’t be so jarring for the child and you.  And as school starts, make sure you’re on time for both drop off and pick up to instill further confidence in your child (and interestingly, yourself) that all is well is the world and that you both know what you’re doing.
  1. Talk and Walk Thru What to Expect.  If the preschool offers an open house before the big day, take advantage of it.  Take your child and explore the preschool space together.  Talk with your child during and after the event on what to expect, like ‘this is where I will drop you off and pick you up,’ ‘look how fun this will be to build with these blocks and paint with these colors,’ ‘do you see that clock? we have to be here when the small hand is on the 8.’  Visualizing success and the routine makes it a much easier transition.
This home based preschool is a great example of the types of things you want to look for when choosing a preschool.

Photo: Mighty Scholars Preschool in Mesa, Arizona.

  1. Stay a While On The First Day.  In a First 5 LA article, La Petite Academy Director Judith Carrasco says to ask the school if you can hang around with your child on the first day of school for 10 minutes or so, like at the activity table.  It help to calm separation anxiety for both the parents and the child.  “One of the problems I have is when a parent just leaves and the child turns around and they are gone,” Carrasco said. “The first thing the child is going to do is panic.”
  1. Infuse Yourself with Joyful Thoughts.  If you’re anxious and sad, acknowledge it.  But then, look to replace those feelings with joyful thoughts.  If you don’t feed yourself with replacement behaviors and ideas, then you’ll keep on dwelling on anxiety about the transition.  Write down what makes you happy about seeing your child succeed — maybe even post those thoughts on your mirror, in a journal, on the refrigerator.  Then, make a list of the things you’ll do and get done while your child is away.  Perhaps that list will include more attention given to younger siblings, a house project, a work task, service at your church, or anything that has been looming but you haven’t had the time for until now.  Make the time count for both the child and yourself so that everyone succeeds, feels confident, and has joy.

How have you dealt with missing your young child during a preschool transition?

Let us know in the comments below 

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