“The best way to make children good is to make them happy.”
Preschool can be a huge milestone for a toddler, leaving the comfort of the home and venturing out into the big world for the first time. For both parent and child, this might seem like a daunting prospect. You can never tell if and when your child is ready for preschool, but as parents, there is a lot that can be done to prepare the child to make the transition with ease.
Toddlers can be a bit of a handful and all their excess energy might seem best put to use at a preschool. Yet for all their excitement and enthusiasm, the first day of preschool will not be easily welcomed; expect active unwillingness, nervousness, and tears. It is important for parents to know that this is natural and, to an extent, necessary. Communication is key here. Talk to your child about preschool and what he will do there. Do not overwhelm your little ones with unnecessary details. Instead, have casual, upbeat conversations with them about all the fun they are going to have with their new friends and teachers. This lets your child know what to expect and gives them something to look forward to.
Once children have been enrolled, parents can take them on a tour of the preschool. Let them get to know the environment and meet their teachers and caregivers in advance to make them comfortable and confident. If possible, organize a play date or two with children who will be in your child’s preschool class. This will save your child from all the unfamiliarity and isolation that he might face otherwise. Socialising is a tool that will only be learned gradually, but parents can always point children in the right direction. Pretend play is an excellent way to teach your child some basic social skills. Act out going to school, greeting each other, playing games and let your child become the teacher or the parent in turn. By reassuring children that preschool is a fun and exciting place, parents can help reduce their anxiety.
Make sure your toddler is well-equipped to handle themselves even without parents by their side. This involves learning basic self-help skills like managing their belongings – backpack, lunchbox, books, etc., potty training, feeding themselves and pre-writing and crafting skills. A certain level of motor skills is expected from children, which will develop naturally as they play with toys, play-dough, paper and other small objects that put their tiny hands to work.
Getting into an organized routine, at least a week or two before starting preschool, is crucial for both parent and child. If children are accustomed to a consistent schedule at home, it will make the transition to a structured school-setting smoother. Routines provide opportunities to learn about order, sequencing, and concepts of time. Morning and bedtime routines, especially, make life easier by ensuring stress-free and time-efficient alternatives to dreadful situations like the chaos of getting your child dressed and ready in time.
When the first day of preschool finally comes around, be cheerful and positive since kids pick up on the reactions of trusted adults. When it’s time to go, offer a hug and keep the goodbye short but make sure your child is comfortable before you leave. Developing a goodbye ritual, even something as simple as a kiss or a sweet phrase will make them feel special and raise their spirits. The possibility and extent of separation anxiety vary from child to child, with some children being able to separate easily from parents while others need extra support. If your toddler belongs to the latter group, enlist the help of staff who have many years of experience with helping families make the shift to preschool. Reassure your toddlers that they will be safe and that you will come back for them. As parents, it can be scary and upsetting to let go of your child but trust the other adults, staff, and teachers to do the rest.
At Trins ELC we ensure that this transition is easy for your child.