If you missed PART I of the Tips & Tricks to Help Your Child (and You!) Prepare for the First Day of Preschool, read it here.
I can’t be there for the first day so my sitter is taking my child. Is that bad?
The way you’d prepare yourself to take your child is the way you prepare your sitter. Figure out how your child will get to school and how he or she will come home. Talk to your child about the morning and afternoon routine so that she understands that she will be okay and cared for, even if mom or dad isn’t the one doing the drop off. If the relationship is new, make sure your child meets their before- and/or after-school caregiver before school begins.
What do I do if my child doesn’t separate well?
When possible, keep the goodbyes short and sweet. If your child has a challenging time separating, staying for 15-30 minutes on that first morning can help ease the transition. Together, the two of you can explore the classroom, meet other children, and play with a few toys. When you see that your child is comfortable, it is time to leave. Say a quick, upbeat good-bye and reassure your child that all will be well.
Even though your heart may be telling you one thing, listen to your head and try not to run back in the classroom if you hear your child crying, as upsetting as this can be. If you do, it sends the message that he or she is only okay if you are there and it is likely to prolong your child’s distress and make it harder for them to adapt. Just remember, many kids have meltdowns when it’s time to separate. Even if your child is howling, there’s a good chance he’ll be fine five minutes after you walk out the door, and if not, your teacher will probably know it’s time to come out and get you! No one wants to traumatize your child OR you! If it’s taking a while for your little one to adjust, rest assured. Teachers have many years of experience helping families acclimate to preschool. Your child will adjust before you know it!
What do I say (or not say) after the school day?
If you child expresses any worries, listen to and address them. Although it’s tempting to quickly reassure your child and move on, it’s important to let your child know that their worries have been heard. No matter what they are, big or small, children’s worries about preschool can significantly influence their experience.
Let your child know it’s normal to feel happy, sad, excited, scared, or worried. Explain that starting something new can feel scary and that lots of people feel that way. It can be helpful to share a time when you started something new and how you felt. When you allow your child to share their worries, you can help them, think through how to deal with them.
I’m anxious about my child starting school! What if it shows?
Turn that frown upside down. Nerves may be eating you up inside, but don’t let that on to your child. If your tone’s upbeat and you seem confident, your child will sense it and there’s a much better chance that he’ll respond that way, too.
My whole life revolves around my kids. What do I do with my new-found time?
Dive into work: For working parents, sometimes the advent of preschool affords an opportunity to shift gears and focus back onto your career. The summer was awesome, you’re energized and now ready to throw yourself back into that project that was put on the backburner.
Designate the first week of preschool as a “reclamation week”: Plan to spend an hour or two a day cleaning up your home and clearing out the clutter. Having this alone time is an amazing opportunity to organize your abode, creating a calm environment for your preschooler to come home to
Treat yourself: A day at the spa, either in the home or out, can work wonders! Indulging in special lunch (even if it’s a bit higher on the caloric front than usual), buying yourself a small gift (as a job well-done) or taking a favorite exercise class can help create a zen-infused parent who’s ready to take on the rest of the day’s challenges once the school day ends. Parents need pampering too!
Be productive: Sometimes it’s easy to find yourself with the newfound freedom and time once preschool begins, but try to avoid plopping down on the couch and wasting the three-to-five hours of free time by checking Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Pay your bills, plan the dinner menu for the week, bring in the dry cleaning that’s been sitting on your table for days, read a book for pleasure and knowledge. Feel a sense of accomplishment by having made wise use of your child’s time at school.