Having your child go to school for the first time ever can be very exciting and yet very stressful for both you and your child. I wanted to give you some suggestions for an easier transition that I have picked up from having been a preschool parent as well as witnessing 8 years worth of first days as a preschool teacher, assistant director and director. I hope that you find these helpful as you approach your child’s first day at school. This article isn’t meant to be comprehensive of everything you could do but just things I have noticed over the years…
- Be positive and happy! Even if you are a mess on the inside, don’t let it show on the outside. Your child will pick up on your mood and non-verbal queues and if they feel like you are sad or nervous, then they will be too. Put on your best smile and let them know what a great day they will have.
- Establish a drop-off routine that is quick and easily to replicate each morning. You can remind them of the items that they need to do before enterring the classroom and then give them a kiss before saying goodbye. You can have a funny wave that you do or a cute saying that you both take part in each morning – something that makes them feel secure in the knowledge that you love and care for them. When you have the same routine each day it reassures and comforts your child.
- Don’t linger! Even if your child is crying and won’t let you go, the quicker you can leave, the quicker the teacher can start to comfort them and involve them in the activities going on in the classroom. Trust me when I tell you that the teachers have been here before and they will do their very best to calm your child and make sure that they have a great day at school. If you are having a hard time leaving them at school, go out and wait in the parking lot or go to a nearby coffee shop in case the school calls. Maybe introduce yourself to another new parent and get a coffee with them – you can commiserate with them about the first day blues.
- Plan something special for after their first day and let them know what it is before dropping them off. It
can be a picnic on the playground at school or at their favorite park or any other activity where they can have some of your undivided attention. You can talk about what you did during their first day and ask about what they did at school. You may not get many answers but it is important to reassure them that you care about their day. You will both appreciate having some alone time together after your first morning apart from each other.
Hopefully these tips will help your first day or first week go smoothly. Even if there are tears at dropoff for a week or two, they normally stop after you leave and eventually will stop altogether. There are also a few things you can do past the first day to help you both get through the seperation anxiety.
- Keep the same schedule each school day.
- Try not to be late. Plan for enough time each morning to get through your routine without being stressed about having enough time. If you are stressed, they will be too.
- The 2nd week is usually worse than the first! I feel like this is one of the most important things to remember. Even if your child has a great first week at school, you may see tears on the 2nd week. Your child now knows what’s coming and that you will be leaving them at school. Keep faith – the next week is usually great!
I hope you and your children all have a great school year! I know I am looking forward to my third year at Epiphany Lutheran Nursery School.
Jessica Hendricks – Director