If you talk to other parents on the first day of preschool or take a peek on social media, you’ll find parents talking about how hard it is to drop your child off for preschool on the first day. The interesting thing is that it almost always is harder for the parents than it is for the child! This is because children are adaptable, open-minded, and eager to socialize with other kids their age.
Regardless of this reassurance, many parents are nervous about dropping off their child for the first day! Will your child have fun? Will they get along with other kids? What happens if they need to use the restroom–or worse, have an accident? What if they don’t like the teacher or the activities? Or what if they’re just plain scared to be away from mommy and daddy all day?
Your fears are completely valid–and completely normal! Luckily, the educators and staff at Kids Village have been helping children transition during their first day of preschool for years. With the help of these sweet, patient, and loving teachers–and with some preparation on your end–the first day of preschool can go flawlessly.
6 Tips for Helping Your Child Adjust to Preschool
Below are six tips for helping your child adjust to preschool, taken from years of experience as early childhood educators.
1. Give Your Child Information Upfront
Nothing can throw a wrench in the first day of preschool like your child having no idea what’s going on. Preparing your child helps them know what to expect and gives you a chance to calm and alleviate their fears by talking about them ahead of time (instead of trying to head off a tantrum at the front doors).
- Take a tour of the school before the first day and let your child meet the teacher. If they’re old enough, encourage them to come up with some questions they’d like to ask the teacher about school, their activities, or even themselves.
- Read books about preschool. There are many children’s books available for this exact purpose. It helps children find words for their concerns–and also see that everything ends up being okay in the end. This can be a good method for getting your child to open up about any worries they may have ahead of time and providing a model for things turning out positively.
- Talk about what it will be like. Give them information about what drop-off will look like, what they can expect during class, what they can do if they feel nervous or have a problem, and what time they will go home (or indicators that it’s almost time to go home, like hanging up their apron and getting their book bag ready).
2. Use The Kids Village Valet Service
We know that for parents of some first-time parents the valet line can seem intimidating or like an impersonal way to drop off your student, but we promise, the kids love it! It’s a simple, quick, and SAFE way to get your child into and out of school. There are a few reasons the valet line can help your child adjust to preschool:
- It provides routine. Your child will become accustomed to being unbuckled, saying “good-bye” to mom or dad, taking the Kids Village staff member’s hand, and being guided inside. This will start to signal to them that their day is about to begin! It also eliminates unpredictable factors like distractions in the parking lot or entryway, wanting to show mom or dad something in the classroom, or even mom or dad unintentionally extending the goodbye.
- It provides a sense of independence. This can be a hard one for parents to accept, but the small amount of independence your child gets by having a routine drop-off instead of being walked into their classroom by mom or dad gives your child the opportunity to feel more independence over going to school. It shows them they can do things that make them feel a little nervous or excited even without mom or dad holding their hands. Don’t worry–the caregivers at Kids Village do a GREAT job every single day to help get your child excited about starting a new day at school to help translate any nervousness into excitement!
3. Asked Positively-Worded Questions
At the end of your child’s first day of preschool (and every following day), avoid asking questions like “Did you cry?” “Did you miss me?” “Were you nervous?” This could lead your child to think “Am I supposed to cry?” or “Does mommy/daddy expect me to be nervous?”
Ask positively-worded questions like:
- “Did you have so much fun at school today?”
- “Did you get to play with lots of friends today?”
- “What was your favorite part of school today?”
4. Ask Interactive Questions with your Child
Your child is probably as excited to tell you about their day as you are to hear about it, but sometimes their mind draws a blank—which is why you get a lot of “I don’t knows” or one-word answers. Get creative with your questions! Ask things that don’t require yes or no answers, like:
- What was your favorite part of school today?
- Was there anything at school that made you smile today?
- Tell me about something you did with a friend at school today!
- What did you wish you did more of at school today?
Your child may give you “I don’t remember…” the first couple times, but if you get into a routine of asking fun, engaging questions after school, they’ll get into the routine of expecting them.
5. Don’t Forget to Let Them Drive the Conversation Too!
It can be easy to get caught up in asking question after question, but don’t forget the most important question of all:
“Is there anything you’re excited to tell me about school today?”
6. Have a “Go to School” Routine
Having a “Go to School” routine can help smooth your mornings (or afternoons) and prevent the battle to get ready. If you have morning school, have a scheduled time to wake up and a routine for eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing teeth, and any other morning inclusions you’d like to add (like morning snuggles or story time).
If you have an afternoon student, try a routine like taking the dogs on a walk, having lunch, brushing teeth, and singing a song while your child puts on his or her shoes. Whatever routine you choose, consistency is a key. The patterned event signals to your child that it’s almost school time so they have time to emotionally prepare and gear-up for the day.
Another tip is to make sure this routine includes time to connect one-on-one with your child. Sometimes the battle to get them through the door can occur because they feel disconnected with you and aren’t ready to go away until they feel that safe connection again.
If your child is having trouble adjusting to school, let us help! Our Kids Village teachers and staff are pros at helping students adjust to the school environment. Call or stop by to speak with the Education Director to discuss strategies for helping make your child’s experience a positive one.