You might be feeling a mixture of pride, excitement, loss and anxiety as your child becomes more independent, particularly if you’re considering preschool for the first or last time.
Here are some TIPS to get you through the emotions about your child starting preschool soon.
STARTING PRESCHOOL: WHAT TO EXPECT
Your child is probably feeling excited as well as a bit nervous about starting preschool.
He or she might have already been to child care or playgroup and feels comfortable about joining a new group. Or preschool might be your child’s first experience of being away from family.
You can start getting your child ready for preschool in the months and weeks before the first day.
• Visit the Preschool
• Talk about Preschool
• Read Books about Preschool
When your child starts preschool:
Start gradually Many preschools invite parents to stay for a while during the day in the early days. Speak with the preschool teacher and work out a plan that works for you, your child and the preschool. It’s a good idea to tell your child how long you’re staying, so she doesn’t get a surprise when you leave.
Establish some routines Routines can help your child feel safe and secure, particularly when new things are happening. You could set up a routine for preschool mornings – for example, get up, have breakfast, clean teeth, get dressed, put on sunscreen, pack lunchbox and go. You could even make a chart with pictures showing the different steps in your routine.
Develop a routine for saying Goodbye Say goodbye to your child so that he knows you’re going, and tell him that you’ll pick him up at the end of the day. You could choose a special place to say goodbye, or an activity to do before you go. For example, ‘If you wave to me from that window, I’ll be able to see you’, or ‘Which book will we read before I go?’
Say goodbye once and leave. Lots of goodbyes can be stressful for both you and your child.
YOUR CHILD IS WORRIED ABOUT PRESCHOOL: WHAT DO YOU DO?
Starting preschool can be exciting for your child. But anxiety and tiredness are normal too – there’s so much for your child to get used to. You might notice that your child isn’t eating as much, or wants to sleep more. She or he might even seem less happy than normal.
Your child might be worried about finding friends, knowing what to do or being separated from family. He or she might get upset when you leave.
Your child might also worry about what you’ll be doing while he or she’s at preschool. Will you be doing something special, and will be missing out?
Tips to handle worries about starting preschool
- Let your child know what you’ll be doing while he’s at preschool. This can help reassure him that he’s not missing out, especially if you try to save his favourite activities for when he’s with you.
- Talk with your child about preschool routines. Toby Forward’s book The first day of school is a good discussion starter if it’s hard to get your child talking.
- Talk to the teacher if your child gets upset when you leave her. Preschool teachers are experienced at helping children through separation and will have ideas to help you and your child.
- Ask the teacher about what might be worrying your child. The teacher can tell you what happens during the preschool day. Your child might be worried about using the toilets, eating the food the preschool provides, or finding his things.
- Talk with the teacher about strategies to handle specific worries. For example, if your child is worried about food, you might be able to pack some familiar food. If using the toilets seems to be the problem, the teacher can help your child get used to them. Labeling your child’s things can help her keep track of them.
Developing good communication with the preschool teachers can also help you overcome the normal worries of preschool.