It’s that time of the year – in the next several weeks, children big and small will start back to school. If you’re the mom of a new preschooler, both you and your child may be experiencing a bit of apprehension about the new school year.
Preschool can be a great opportunity for both you and your child. It’s a wonderful socialization process as your little one meets new friends, learns how to work in a group, experiences new activities, new crafts, routines, and let’s face it – fun! As a mom, it also gives you time to turn your focus to other things – perhaps another child, your job, your house or just yourself. Why not experience the thrill of going to the grocery store by yourself? Or, having coffee with a friend, or cleaning up the house without someone hanging on your leg?
This is also a chance for you to see, firsthand, how your child applies what you have been teaching him at home. Our whole focus as parents is love, nurture, and prepare our child for the world. And preschool is a wonderful, safe, risk-free environment to see your child’s strengths and areas of improvement.
However great preschool might be, this is still your baby. So, what can you do to make a smooth transition for both your child and yourself?
- Preview the show: When you chose the preschool and registered your child, you may have toured the school, met with administration or teachers, or viewed a few of the classes. Regardless, it’s good to revisit the school with your child. Most schools will have an Open House Day when everyone can come and meet the teacher, but if your child tends to be shy, it can be overwhelming. See if you and your child can make an appointment to visit individually before that time. Most administrators understand that initial apprehension and will welcome the chance to put you both at ease. Make driving by your school a part of your weekly routine, so your child can get excited! Visit the website, show online picture so that your little one will recognize the school on the first day. And, when the time comes for Open House, make plans to attend. This is a great time to see the class, meet a few other little friends and let your child get acquainted with the teacher.
- Be Prepared: Take this Boy Scout motto to heart as you get your child ready for school. Find out from your school exactly what your child will need – and then let your little one be involved! Picking out book bags, lunch boxes, snacks for lunches is a necessary – and can be a very fun – part of back-to-school. Bring your child with you, let him have some say in the school supplies and clothes you buy. After all, if he’s excited about his Ninja Turtle backpack, he’ll be excited the first day he gets to use it! Also, being prepared and buying school supplies ahead of time – everything from snack cups to extra diapers to nap mats – will help you rest easy the night before the big day.
- Practice makes perfect: You’ve probably spent many an hour playing with your child. Devote a little of this time to playing school. Let your child pretend to come to class. Do Circle Time, Story Hour, Music, Arts & Crafts and Snack. Not only is fun for your both, it gets your child in the mindset of a school routine. Remind him that school is going to be similar to your play and how much fun he’ll have doing it with other friends. Don’t forget to mention that Mommy won’t be in his classroom, but that you’ll want to hear all about it when you pick your little one up.
- Schedule It: To help your child prepare for the start of school, mark it on the calendar and count it down, just like any other monumental holiday. This will help your child build up to the big day, rather than quickly switching from jammies and blankets to book bags and lunch sacks. Additionally, mark “school days” on the schedule so your child can see what days he attends. Children respond to routine, so if he knows Mondays and Wednesdays are Mommy Days and Tuesdays and Thursdays are school days, he’ll be better prepared, both mentally and physically.
- “Because I’m Happy . . .”: Yes, this is from the infectious Pharrell Williams song that has been sweeping the airwaves, but as your child gets ready to start school, this should be your mantra – even if it’s not! Babies and children can sense our emotions, both good and bad. If you’re nervous and stressed, your child will be as well. Be excited for your child, talk about the fun and friends he will have. If you approach it as a positive change, it will be. And, you’d better believe that the first time your child comes home beaming from school about a great experience that happened, you will beam too – just like singing along with the song, you can’t help it!
As a parent, part of our job is to prepare our children for life and the changes and milestones that will come. By taking a few extra steps, you’ll not only ensure your child is ready but you’ll give yourself an opportunity to transition as well. Parenthood is a journey, and this is just one of the stops along the way. Take a deep breath, sit back and watch it unfold!
Happy Parenting – The Baby Pibu™ Team
- “Helping your Child Adjust to Preschool.” KidsHealth from Nemours. August 2013. http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/learning/adjust_to_preschool.html
- Skolnick, Deborah. “Getting your Kid Ready for Preschool.” Parenting.com. http://www.parenting.com/article/getting-ready-start-preschool