Friday, May 9, 2014

Preparing for preschool: 9 steps to make the first day less scary

The first day of preschool often heralds the first time your child is away from you and is one of the first steps in 'letting go' of your little one. We help you ease your worries with 9 great tips on how to prepare for that all-important day. Read on to find out how to turn those first-day-of-preschool tears into sunny smiles!
Take some of the anxiety away from preparing for preschool for the first time with these tips.

Preparing for the first day of preschool: it’s a big event in your child’s life and one that you might have even been worrying about for some time. Going to preschool for the first time is often your child’s first experience away from you. So it can be quite scary for your child and even you. Here are 9 steps to banish those fears and prepare your child (and yourself!) for a positive first day at preschool.

1. Bring your child to visit the preschool
Even if you have decided on the preschool, it’s a good idea to bring your child to visit the preschool and get familiarised with the environment and the teachers. By preparing for preschool in this way and watching how your child reacts, you’ll have a better idea whether she will have issues adapting to the new environment later on. End the visit with a sense of anticipation for the child. “Do you like the school? Would you want to come here again?”

2. Engage your child in preschool-related activities
To prepare her mentally for life in preschool, engage her in activities or discussion related to preschool. Read her a book on ‘My First Day in School’. Try out some fun ‘pretend preschool’ activities at home like getting her involved in preparing a healthy lunchbox, or role play where she is the teacher and you are the student. Do this at least 3 days before her first day at preschool.
Make preparing for preschool fun!

3. Involve your child
One day before the big day, let your child pack her own bag and lunchbox. Ask for a copy of the class timetable, and go through the sequence of events while you pack the bag with your child. “You will need this when you take your nap. When you wake up, you are going to need that…” When you get her involved in the whole process of preparing for preschool, she is likely to be well mentally prepared of what to expect in school.

4. Don’t rush the morning
On the day! Arrange to wake up your child early, so that you don’t have to rush through the morning. Go through the usual morning routine such as breakfast in a leisurely manner. You don’t want to let your child start her first day of preschool feeling stressed, rushed and anxious.

5. Arrive early in schoolArrive early at the preschool to allow more time for you to settle down your child. Avoid a situation when you have to rush off for your morning meeting the moment you drop your child at the preschool.

6. Bring a comfort object
A favourite toy will help your child feel comforted on her first day of preschool

Pack along her favourite item that would offer her a sense of comfort and reassurance should she feel anxious or upset at any time. This could be her teddy bear, blanket, or pillow. Let your child know that the comfort object will keep her company while you are not by her side.

7. Preparing for preschool is fun!
Put on a happy face (even though you might feel like crying yourself – your baby’s growing up!), and sing songs with your child while on the way to preschool. This will make the journey to preschool fun, enjoyable and happy. Once you set these happy moments as routine, the child will perceive the preschool to be as enjoyable as the journey to get there.

8. I will be back for you
Make a promise to her that you will pick her up after a certain activity at school (if she doesn’t know how to read the clock yet) – like when the children finish their afternoon tea snacks or when the teacher reads the last book of the day. Be very sure to keep to your promise and the promised timing of pick up.

9. Keep good-byes short and sweet
Your child’s preschool teacher is well-trained in handling those first day tears!

When it’s time for drop-off, keep your goodbyes short and sweet. Give her a quick hug, tell her how much you love her, and leave her in the hands of the capable teacher. Even if she’s crying hysterically, she will likely only cry for a few minutes once you’re out of sight. But if you linger, the crying will probably last longer, and you will only make it tougher for the teacher to help your child settle in. Some centres allow parents to stay in the centre during the first few days, and observe their child from an obscured location. You should refrain from stepping into the classroom every now and then to check on your child as this could upset her again once she settles.

We hope this article is useful to you as you prepare to ‘let go’ of your little one for perhaps the first time in your life. It’s a big day for you and your child so make it a memorable one. Leave a comment and let us know if you know about any other ways of preparing a child for the first day of preschool. We’d love to hear from you!

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