September marks the start of the school year and many parents will be sending their kids off to nursery for the first time. It’s an exciting and scary time for both parents and children, but there’s a lot you can do to help prep your child (and yourself!) for this new transition.
Get to Know the Teacher
This is someone you’ll be handing your child over to for the whole day, and who oftentimes can spend more time with kids than parents do during the week.. It’s important that you feel comfortable that you are leaving your child with that person. Discuss your worries and concerns. Let the teacher know about issues that are important to you and how you would like them to handle them such as discipline and eating. You’ll feel more comfortable knowing that you’ve communicated your thoughts to the teacher before the year starts and they get to know your family better as well. You can also consider these questions and topics for your child’s new teacher.
Prepare Your Child
With very young children under 3 years old it can be a bit challenging preparing them verbally for a whole new setting. Visiting the preschool for a few hours in the weeks before and letting them explore is always a good idea so that the setting is familiar on the first day. You can start reading books about preschool and the activities your child will get to do there. Continue reading these books and referring back to your child’s activities one they’ve started preschool. Take your child to pick a special lunch bag just for preschool so that it’s an exciting item on the first day. Even if your child is older and returning to preschool, these tips will help as well to get them in the back to school spirit. You can also make a photo collage of summer break for your child to present on their first day back.
Plan Your Morning
Try to plan your first morning (and as many after that as possible) so that things go smoothly and you are not rushed. Make lunch the night before and help your child pack their bag with all they need, like an extra set of clothes etc. This will help your child feel less anxious and more excited. It will also help you to feel less stressed and rushed when it comes to getting out the door.
The first day of preschool can be especially heartbreaking for many parents. There are feelings of guilt and fear as well as separation anxiety on the side of the parent. I’ve personally had to give many comfort hugs to parents on their child’s first day. Remind yourself that a good preschool is a lot of fun for kids and a great opportunity for socializing with others, as well as all the fun experiences they’ll get like crafts, outdoor play and everyday activities. You also need time for yourself whether you are a working or stay at home parent. Go grab a coffee with a close friend who can offer comfort or have them ready for a call if you need it during your day.
Allow Time for Settling In
Usually day one is emotional but short. Children take time to settle in and most preschools do this gradually. Starting from an hour sometimes accompanied or unaccompanied by the parent and slowly build up to a full day according to how the child responds. On arrival, make sure you introduce your child to their teacher, who will be his new source of security in this new place. When leaving your child there are a few points that can help:
- give your child a reminder when you arrive that you will be leaving to go to work or on an errand soon,
- try to choose a location other than home as that can be emotional for little kids
- Give them a heads up before the time comes for you to leave “once you finish breakfast I have to go get some things from the supermarket and I’ll be right back, Mrs Sarah will take care of you”.
- When it’s time to leave have a phrase you repeat daily “Mommy is going now, let me give you a hug and a kiss. I’ll see you in a little bit”.
- Be firm, gentle and quick and do not hesitate. It can be tough but remember their teacher will always call you if they are upset.
As time progresses know that things will get easier and before you know it most kids are waving goodbye at the gates and can’t wait to play.
We hope these tips help you start your school year, and good luck to us all!