Getting Ready for the First Day of Preschool

August 23, 2019

The first day of school is a major milestone, whether it’s a child’s first year of preschool, or their last year of high school! For those entering preschool, the first day of the school year often feels overwhelming, and can lead to feelings of excitement and anticipation, or even anxiety and fear of the unknown. Here are a few ways to help get your child ready for this new adventure.

Pretend Play. Take advantage of your child’s natural desire to make believe, and prentend to be in a classroom. Act out a drop-off routine, having a group learning time, reading stories, singing songs, having a lunch and nap time. This helps them see the classroom as a fun place, where they can learn and make friends. Be patient and answer any questions that they may have as they play.

Read. Spend some time reading through books about going to preschool. Some popular ones are “The Night Before Preschool” by Natasha Wing, “Llama Llama Misses Mama” by Anna Dewdney, “Maisy Goes to Preschool” by Lucy Cousins, “What to Expect at Preschool” by Heidi Murkoff. Talk about how they think the characters might feel, then talk about how they are feeling.

Self-help skills. Give them opportunities to practice some everyday skills they will need during the day. Some of these skills may include unzipping a backpack, placing items such as folders or lunch boxes in bins where they belong, fastening shoes, Unbuttoning/buttoning and working zippers on clothing, opening their lunch box and trying to open any food packaging, sitting criss cross for circle or story time. Having confidence in some of these skills may help them have more confidence throughout their day.

Visit before the first day. Take advantage of opportunities to visit the school when they come up. One great opportunitiy offered by most preschools is Open House/Meet the Teacher. These are good times to visit because the child gets to meet their teacher in the classroom where they will be. They get to see some of the toys they may get to use for centers, the tables where they will sit, and usually some of their fellow classmates too. They may even get to see where their specific chair will be, and where their things will need to go when they walk into the classroom. All of this can buld confidence and relieve some anxiety.

As a parent, the time just before and after starting a new school year is a very important time to be extra sensitive to questions or concers that your child may have about the school year. Try not to just reassure them quickly and move on. Assure them that you have heard them, and take time to talk with them, even when the question or concern seems small to you, or it’s something you have addressed several times already. Some questions or concerns they may have are things like Will I make friends?, Will my teacher be nice?, Will you remember to pick me up?.

It’s also important to let them know that how they are feeling is normal, whether it’s happy, scared, worried, excited or sad. Maybe try to share a time when you started something new, and how you felt about it before you started, and after you had been doing it for a while. This gives you a chance to talk through how they feel, and make a plan for how to deal with those feelings. Maybe they could wear a special bracelet you have given them to help them feel closer to you, or putting a picture of the family in their lunch box that they can see at lunch time.

Another thing that can happen, especially if a child is too young or otherwise unable to fully express their feelings verbally, may be regression, or “acting out” in some way. Sometimes a fully potty trained child may begin having accidents, or a very independent child may start asking you to dress or feed them again. It can be very frustrating when these behaviors arise, but try to remember that they are delaing with a big change, and quite often these issues resolve quickly with a little extra patience and support from parents.

Open House!!First Day of CPA 2019/2020 Take 1