“How can you prepare a child for preschool?” This question was posed to me so I have spent some time thinking about this. Thinking about the skills a child needs, and how you, as a parent, can help your child to be successful in preschool. Well, the reality is you can’t. Preschool should meet the needs of children, not the other way around. Your child already has a desire to learn, explore and play. That is what preschool should be about.
I answered that question pretty quickly. So now what? Well, the first day of school is right around the corner, and I thought now would be a great time to talk about how to prepare your little one for the first day of preschool. What can you do as a Mom to prepare your child for that first day when you walk him into the classroom and say, “OK, have fun. Mommy will be back in a little while.” Many children have no problem at all. From the very first day of school they give you a kiss and a hug and run off to play. For others it is a different story. You might have to pry him off you as you jet out the door.
I am sitting at the computer, my mind racing, trying to come up with the best advice for all you Moms out there who will be sending your child to preschool next week. I have worked in childcare for 13 years and I have two boys of my own, ages 13 and 9. One of them absolutely loved school, the other not so much. Surely, I know all the tricks by now. Well, the truth is, I am at a loss. I cannot tell you how to prepare your child for the first day of school. I do not know your child. Each child is different and you, as the Mom, know how he will react on that first day. If only he were a bit older, you could talk to him about school and how much fun he will have. He will tell you why he is nervous and you can find a way to make it all go away. Well, that doesn’t work with a preschooler.
So, now you are reading this and saying to yourself “Well, this is helpful advice. Some experienced preschool director we have here.” Please keep reading because I do have advice for you, and it is really, really good advice. I am ready to share with you the secret. The best advice I have to give on how to prepare your child for the first day of preschool. Are you ready? Here it comes…
You have to prepare yourself!
OK, say it with me now, “I have to prepare myself.”
You are your child’s entire world. He looks at you to know if he is happy, sad, angry, or scared. You are the key to your child’s level of comfort. So, when you walk in to the school feeling conflicted and nervous and just really don’t want to leave, how do you think he will feel? You got it ~ conflicted and nervous. If you get upset saying goodbye, he will too! Even worse, is when you try to sneak out of the room so he won’t cry. Guess what, he will cry. You won’t hear it, but he will. To top it off, every time you walk into another room, out of sight, he will freak out and think you left him.
What if you have a child like the first child I described, that runs right in happy as a clam from the very first day? You also need to be prepared for the fact that he might not cry. I know that sounds silly, but I have seen many Moms who are saddened by the fact that her child is happy at school and doesn’t mind that she is leaving.
You have to make sure that you are ready to take your child to preschool. You have to know that he might cry when you leave, but he is safe and well taken care of. You have to know that if he doesn’t cry when you leave he still loves to be with you more than anyone else (until he is a teenager anyway). You have to know for yourself the benefits of preschool (and there are so many, but that is an article for another day). You have to know that this is only going to help him grow. You have to be sure that you are comfortable with the school you selected. Actually, you should be more than comfortable. You should love the school you selected. Talk to the director and the teachers. Pop in for an unexpected visit to the school (don’t tell anyone I said that, some directors don’t like unscheduled tours, but the unannounced pop in is a good way for you to know for yourself what goes on at any given moment). Talk to your friends and family about their schools. Once you have done this and you are truly ready for your child to go to preschool, everything will be just fine! He may still cry for a couple of weeks or he may not, but believe me, he will have a great time and learn so much from the experience. I am also willing to bet you will too!
Thanks, Angela for your Smarty insight! You can find Angela Copperwheat and her team at:
Carmel Presbyterian Weekday School
2048 Carmel Rd., Charlotte, NC 28226