Tips to Settling your Child into Preschool
Every parent wants a strong foundation for their children’s education. Therefore, starting preschool is a milestone as it is the first step of your child’s education away from home. However, it is moment of mixed emotions with excitement, joy, uncertainty and anxiousness for both children and parents!
Many parents doubt whether the child will welcome the new experience and on the other hand it is quite normal for the children to feel uneasy in an unfamiliar territory. Therefore, emotional readiness is important for both parents and children to go through this important transition as calmly and happily as possible. As a parent, it is your responsibility to prepare your child for this big step.
Below are some simple strategies that you can adopt to ensure a smooth transition.
Talk - Reading and telling stories about preschool to your child prepares them mentally for the transition. Tell him/her that he/she will be going to a preschool soon and talk about the fun activities and the excitement of meeting new friends. Try books with lot of pictures with happy children and try to give him/her a glimpse of his/her preschool life. However, it is not a good idea to begin talking about preschool and building it up too far ahead of time as it may be overwhelming to your child.
Visit – It’s a good idea to visit the preschool with your child before the start of his/her first day of enrollment. These prior visits will make the surrounding and the teachers/caregivers of the preschool familiar to the child and he/she is more likely to welcome them when he/she comes on the first day. Also, this offers an opportunity for you to familiarize yourself with your child’s teachers and ask them about routines and common activities done during the preschool time. You can do these activities with your child at home and they will find it comforting to discover similar activities in his/her preschool classroom. The more familiar your child is with her new environment, the happier he/she will be at the preschool.
Use Transitional Objects - Using transitional objects is an effective strategy to ease the anxieties of your child during the first few weeks (or even months!) of the preschool. Allow your child to take an object (a soft toy, special doll, a family picture or anything that makes him/her feel secure) from home to the preschool. Make your child’s caregivers aware of this comfort object, so that they can show it to your child when he/she is upset. This will help him/her feel at home.
Give Some Control - Preschool is something over which your child has only a very limited control. Your child is not the one who chooses the teachers/caregivers, start and end time or the activities and routines of the preschool. Therefore, giving them some control over certain things will help them feel more accepting of the things that they can’t control. Let your child make small choices such as deciding what to wear to the preschool and what stickers to paste on the books.
Develop A Goodbye Ritual - It's natural for your child to feel anxious when you say goodbye. Always say a warm and loving goodbye to your child and leave promptly without dragging it out. A long farewell scene makes the separation more painful and makes your child feel that preschool is a bad place. Also, don’t sneak out without bidding farewell as it will make your child feel abandoned. Kids are capable of picking up on their parent’s nonverbal cues even at a young age. When you feel guilty or worried about leaving them at preschool, they will probably sense it and may resist separation. It’s a good idea to establish a goodbye ritual such as a special wave through the window or a warm goodbye kiss. A consistent and predictable farewell ritual will help your child cope better with the separation anxiety.
Maintain Good Relationship – Always remember to maintain a good relationship with the teachers and caregivers of the preschool. When your child sees that you have trust in the teachers/caregivers, he/she is more likely to feel safe and secure with them while you are away.
A warm and loving preschool will be naturally appealing to most children. However, each child is unique and they learn things at their own pace. With time, they will understand that preschool is part of their daily lives and have a more receptive attitude. As a parent, our job is to prepare them adequately for a wonderful preschool experience, which is their first big step on their lifelong educational journey!