Preparing Your Child for Preschool Part II
So, you’ve decided your child is ready for preschool! How exciting! If you haven’t read Preparing Your Child for Preschool Part One, that will give you the foundation for getting ready, including knowing if your child is ready and overcoming fears. However, if you’ve been getting your child emotionally and mentally ready, let’s talk about actually making the step to preschool from gearing up to settling in.
Establishing a Routine
It’s easy when children are little to “play it by ear” with a routine and schedule. After all, if there’s no place to be early in the morning, there’s no need to wake up early or go to bed early. Same with snacks and dinner - there doesn’t need to be a set time when there’s no place to be.
However, having a schedule and routine established before preschool will make the transition so much easier. Preschool is pretty heavily structured around times, not to mention it starts early in the day. To avoid a total shock to your preschooler (and you!), start implementing a more structured routine about two weeks before preschool starts.
Most importantly, establishing a set bedtime will make mornings easier for your little one to get up and start his or her day. Aim for your three to four-year old to get around 11 to12 hours of sleep each night as that’s the recommended amount. Of course, you know your child and can adjust accordingly, take naps into consideration, and so forth.
During the day, start setting more specific times for doing things, like eating, playing outside, and quiet time or nap. Again, this will help your child get used to the specific schedules of preschool while shifting usual meals and rest times to correspond to snack time and naptime at preschool. This will make the transition so much easier for you, your child, and his or her teacher. To help your child be more aware of the schedule, a visual schedule can help a lot, like this picture card schedule for toddlers and preschoolers.
A week or so before your child’s start date, start getting his or her stuff together. You’ll need a backpack, lunch box (preferably one that is insulated for keeping stuff cold), and various supplies as specified by the school. For example, if your child is going to all-day preschool and they have a naptime, you may need a sleeping bag and pillow, while other schools supply cots.
Anything that you have to buy for your child, have them help pick those items out. Picking out their backpack and lunchbox gives them a feeling of control during what may be a scary time, plus they’ll feel their stuff is more special, having picked it out themselves. If they are excited to use their new stuff, that excitement can edge out any worry or nervousness.
Here are some other things that you’ll want to prepare to bring:
Extra change of clothing (including socks and underwear)
Baby wipes and pull-ups or diapers if your child needs them during naptime
A preferred stuffed animal or toy. If your child is nervous about starting school, a comfort item can be a huge help toward him or her making that transition. This could also be a favorite book, an action figure, or blanket.
Also, make sure everything that belongs to your child, from extra clothes and naptime apparatus to his or her backpack is clearly labeled with his or her name or initials, and if it’s a large preschool, try to include the teacher’s name, too.
Check Medical Requirements
Before preschool starts, check to see what vaccination requirements the school has, if any. If the school does have requirements, you may need to show proof of immunization. Fortunately, you can either pick up records or see if they can email them to you to print out, so it’s a pretty simple step. It’s just not one you want to put off until the last minute.
Also, if your child takes any medication, has allergies, or has any type of special medical concerns, don’t wait until the first day of school to let the teacher know. Preschools have specific protocols for giving medication and such. Contact the school’s nurse or medical practitioner and copy the teacher on any medical needs and make sure you get a response, even if it’s just an acknowledgement that your email has been read.
The Night Before Preschool
The night before preschool may be a bit nerve-wracking for you and your child, and he or she may require some reassuring, and that’s perfectly normal. For a calmer morning, follow these steps:
Ask your child his or her feelings about preschool in a calm, matter-of-fact way - if he or she is excited, you don’t want to give him or her doubts by asking, “Are you scared to go to school?” Instead, try asking, “How do you feel about preschool tomorrow?” and let him or her lead the conversation. But don’t focus too much unless your child wants to.
Have your child help pick out tomorrow’s outfit and pack up his or her backpack
Read a positive preschool story if you need help calming any worries.
After your child goes to bed, double check to make sure everything you need to take with you is ready to go and clearly labeled.
The First Day of Preschool
The day has arrived! I’d highly recommend waking up a few minutes early so you can take your time and not rush. If you are rushed, that may cause stress in your child, which is the last thing you want. Follow your usual morning routine of getting ready, packing lunch, and eating breakfast (unless your child will eat at school), and take a few moments to let your child know what the day will be like and when he or she will be home. Also, if your child is riding the bus, explain that, too, in order to prevent confusion.
Once you’re at school, don’t linger and don’t cry. I know that sounds harsh because you’re dropping your baby off but delaying a good-bye can make it that much harder for you and your child. Also, keeping positive and upbeat reassures your child. A hug and quick reassurance will allow them to move forward, and any tears will dry up quickly.
And don’t worry - millions of children go to preschool everyday, and they love it! Your child will make new friends, learn tons of information, and will have fun doing it. Be sure to send your child to school in comfortable style with clothes from Piper Jade Kids - our clothes are a delightful blend of function and style with unique designs and fun prints. Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest updates on sales, new arrivals, and parenting news!