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Preschool Prep!

After researching, pick a school with confidence that this is the right one for your child and your family and know that no school is perfect. Talk to your child about all the positive features and what would interest them. Talk about the teachers, use their names and let your child know that the teachers are there for them. Communicate other special features like field trips the kids will go on, animals in the classroom, etc. Keep it simple and positive.

Starting preschool is a huge milestone for your child – and you! You will both have mixed emotions and this is very normal. Your child is venturing into the world for the first time and this is the start of many, many years of school. They will feel excited about a new “big kid” accomplishment, but nervous to leave your side and the comforts of home.

Don’t forgot to ask them if they have any questions!

Simple excitements like making new friends, packing a lunchbox or using the fun playground equipment are a lot of fun, so don’t worry too much. This is a normal progression and your child should not feel like it is such a big deal or else they may feel stressed. Prepare them well and lead them in calmly with these tips…

Visit Preschool Together

Schedule a visit for your family. Some schools will let your child sit in on an activity or lunch. This way they will feel comfortable once school starts since they have already been there and seen kids interacting and having fun.

Visit The Library

Your library or bookstore has tons of resources for children going through transitions. You can pick up some books on preschool lessons and activities and try some out at home. Start a few weeks before doing lunchtime at the same time as school. Let them eat their lunch out of a lunchbox. Do an activity like painting, play cooking, or washing baby dolls – something typical at a preschool.

Read Books

Look at some books about children going to school. Ask your child how the kid in the book could be feeling when saying bye to mommy or daddy. Ask them what looks like fun about preschool or what may be a little different than their usual day. This is a nice way for your child to understand the feelings that may come up and you can show them ways to work through them (like drawing a photo of your family dog or your house when they are missing you).

Send Them With Love

Send your child with some comforts of home. A blanket that smells like dad, a favorite sippy cup, a family photo, a stuffy, etc. Pack lunch together so he has some favorite foods. Go early on the first day so you have a bit of time to help ease the transition. You can hang out to see how they feel and encourage them to visit with other students. Once they are involved in an activity, then it is time for you to go. Don’t show any emotion you don’t want your child to feel. They WILL be able to tell!

Get them involved in getting ready to attend preschool. Have them help you pick out a lunch box or some play clothes.  Making them apart of it, this will give them some power and help with anxiety if there is some.

Be Honest

Talk to them about their routine. After breakfast it will be time to go to preschool and mommy or daddy will pick you up after nap (or whenever it is). Don’t lie! Yes, you will be leaving them but ensure them you WILL be back in no time to pick them up. Sneaking out is never a good option, it will add more stress for your child. Always say goodbye!

Overall: Minimize stress!

This doesn’t mean running back to them if you see them crying. If you go back, your child may be more stressed. The teacher should know how to handle these situations.

Remember: the more okay you are, the more okay your child will be. You have to make it okay for them. They will feel your stress, so mask it well. This will probably be harder for you than your child. Your child may cry for 5 minutes and will be playing happily in no time, you however may be crying all morning!! 🙂

A typical reaction to a big transition like starting preschool is reverting back to old bad habits or issues you thought you were already finished with. For example, maybe your child hasn’t had a “potty” accident in months. Starting this new transition could bring this back. This is very NORMAL so don’t worry. It won’t last once they feel comfortable going to school.

The transition could cause your child to cling to you when they weren’t interested before. Yes, they want so desperately to be a “big kid” but it inevitably will be hard for them. They may start asking for a paci or blanket more often. Nurture them if they need it. It too will pass.

Don’t forget to have a special place at home to hang their projects!

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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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