When my daughter started to attend preschool a year ago, I had mixed emotions. While I wanted her to explore and learn outside the comforts of home, there was still a part of me that worried too much. So when I drove her to school that fateful day, I was nursing a broken heart while she was didn’t have a clear idea why she had to attend preschool. The weeks after school began went by so slowly. It was a struggle to get her to school because she was unhappy being without me, and she also didn’t relish the idea of being around new people in a completely different environment. All she wanted to do was to stay at home.
Starting preschool is definitely a milestone, but for parents and young kids, the transition is not at all easy. For kids, the transition can be frightening, and the demands of the new routine can definitely make things more complicated. For parents, getting a child to school can be the hardest, knowing that tantrums or emotional outbursts can sometimes be associated with goodbyes. Here are some ways on how you can help your child adjust with preschool:
1. Establish a goodbye ritual.
Goodbyes are definitely not easy, but preschoolers thrive with structure so forego with emotional goodbyes, and create an ultra cool one instead. It may be a secret handshake, a high five, or anything you fancy. Getting your child into school mode need not be upsetting, so create a fun ritual together.
2. Show readiness even if you’re not.
Many parents admit to feeling separation anxiety too. But no matter how heartbreaking it is to see your little one venture into a new world, you have to take control of your emotions. Your child can easily absorb how you’re feeling, so if he sees that you are too stressed and sad about the whole thing, he may end up feeling the same. Share positive and fun experiences so that he will look forward to attending class. You can have all the time in the world to bawl later, so try to compose yourself.
3. Give your child time to adjust.
You can never expect your child to immediately feel so excited about going to school. Expect the first few weeks to be tough especially when your preschooler is still getting used to the idea of being around new people. So even if goodbyes are difficult, get it over with. Be comforted with the fact that after tearful goodbyes, kids can easily forget about it and proceed with the business of being a preschooler. You can expect goodbyes to be easier after a while so avoid offering bribes and other strategies that don’t offer long term results.
4. Work closely with your child’s teacher.
Teachers are trained and skilled in handling these kinds of situations, and you can trust them in terms of giving the best advice. Starting preschool is a big adjustment and you definitely need all the help that you can get.
5. Avoid being late.
Picking up your child on time means that you are keeping your promise of being there after class. If for some reason you can’t make it, make arrangements with other family members and be very particular about not being late. If you are late, expect goodbyes to be harder the next time around.
6. Prepare for regression.
Expect instances when your child will suddenly declare that he does not want to go to school anymore. This is perfectly normal so don’t be too upset about it. Provide plenty of support and keep the routine. Be comforted with the fact that your child will be back to his normal element in no time.
7. Keep communication lines open.
You can appease you child’s fears and address his issues if you explore his thoughts. Explain the reason why he needs to attend preschool, and provide lots of reassurance. Your child is going through a tough time, and the best way that you can help him through is by making sure that he has someone to talk to.
Attending preschool is a huge milestone. And although we can only do so much for our kids, there are things that they really have to experience for themselves. Provide a loving and supportive environment at home, and help your child through the transition. Although goodbyes are challenging, it will certainly get better each day.