By Angela Copperwheat
Director of Carmel Presbyterian Weekday School
Here we are again. The summer just seems to fly right by, and now here we are at the beginning of another school year. This can be both an exciting and stressful time, especially if you are sending your little one to preschool. Whether this is the very first school experience, or just a move into a new class, your preschooler may be feeling a little nervous. So what can you do to calm the nerves (yours and your child’s) and prepare for the first day of preschool?
The first thing you can do is talk it up and be positive. Talk often with your child about school and how much fun it will be. You know your child. Point out the things he will do at school that will be the most fun for him. Refer to the teacher by name. If there are other children in the class that your child knows, talk about that. Talk, talk, talk.
Second, take your child to visit the school. Most schools have visitation days right before school starts. Be sure you attend the visitation day. If you think that your child will have a difficult transition into preschool, discuss this with the director and try to arrange some extra visitation days. Some schools open their playgrounds to the public if school is not in session. If this is the case, you could go play on the school playground.
Buy your child’s new school supplies together. Even the little ones get excited over their new backpack or lunch box. If they go with you to the store and get to pick out their new accessories and supplies they will be much more excited to use them.
Have a definitive plan for dropping your child off for the first day. If you think there may be some tears, discuss this with the teacher. Decide together the best exit strategy. More often than not, the teacher will tell you to be quick. Do not linger at drop off time. Come in, help your child hang up his backpack and say goodbye. You may think that if you stay for a while he will transition better, but this is usually not the case. No matter how long you stay, there will still be a transition when you leave. It is better if you do not draw it out. Go in knowing your child is in capable hands and the school will call you if they need you. Make sure that you are prepared for drop off too. The last thing your child needs is to see you upset.
Preschool is one of the greatest gifts you can give both you and your child! Your child needs to learn to interact with his peers and other adults on his own. And you need time on your own to be you, not mom. So relax, enjoy this time, and know that in the end, preschool is a great experience for the whole family!