My oldest daughter Nyah started preschool when she was 18 months old. Since she was our first child, my husband and I were terrified. So many questions ran through our head: Are we doing the right thing? Is she old enough? What if something happens to her? It didn’t help that we had heard all of these horror stories about kids starting school. They were sick all the time, or they were being bit or hit by other kids constantly. Since we were already uneasy about making the decision these things just made it worse. All kinds of scenarios about what could happen to our child ran through our head.
I am sure it is safe to say that some of you are feeling the same way. In all honesty though, it ended up being the BEST decision we ever made. Since this is such a big decision, my best advice is to start researching schools way before you plan on enrolling your child. This will give you time to visit many different schools and find the one that fits your and your child’s needs the best. The last thing you want to do when you are already nervous about the situation, is feel rushed into making a decision.
I had to learn the HARD way about letting go, but hopefully these tips will help you prepare yourself and your child for the rough transition ahead. There will be many tears on both sides, but just know it will get easier. Eventually your child will love it, and you will get that affirming feeling that you made the right decision.
- Once you have chosen the right school for your child, make it a point to meet with the teacher(s) in their classroom. Share your child’s schedule with them and give any tips you may have on tough situations that occur consistently. This will help the teachers feel more prepared for their new student and it will give you a peace of mind. No one knows your child better than you do so don’t be afraid to educate their teachers. For example, if your child has a comfort toy or blanket let them know. If your child sleeps better a certain way, let them know. If your child likes certain food better than others, let them know.
- The best thing you can do is prepare your child, don’t keep school a secret. Start the morning by telling your child that they will get to see their teacher and all their friends today. Make it as exciting as possible. Kids can read us, and will feed off of our feelings. The more positive you are about the new situation, the quicker your child will become excited about their new adventure. It also doesn’t hurt to give your child the reassurance that you or your spouse will be picking them up later.
- Once you get to the school, take a deep breath. Again, your child will be able to read you. If they can tell you are apprehensive, they will be too. Try to save your tears for after the drop off because trust me your child will have plenty, but again I promise you this will go away. Reiterate to your child that they are going to have a great day and they will.
- Don’t linger!! This is ok on the first day, but don’t make it a habit. On the opposite side, it is also important to remember not to sneak out because this can cause issues as well. Say your goodbye with a hug and a kiss and walk out. It will be hard to do for the first couple weeks, but like I said earlier the tears will eventually fade away.
- Keep reminding yourself that you are doing the right thing. Your child is going to be just fine. It is such a proud moment as a parent watching your child learn and excel so much. I had my doubts when I put my daughter in school, but after the first few weeks I already saw such a difference in her. She was much more confidant in herself and eventually loved going to school.
- Thanks to technology a big plus with a lot of preschools these days is that they have webcams in the classrooms. You can check on your child throughout the day so you don’t feel like you are missing out on their day-to-day activities. Try not to get hooked (I know easier said than done) because this isn’t healthy for you. Trust that your child is in good hands.
I hope you will find these tips helpful. Like I said before, I wish I had someone to give me advice when I started my child in school. I don’t want to give you a jaded view of how it’s going to be because honestly it’s one of the tougher things you will do as a parent. Everyone involved is going to be emotional, but it’s how you control and deal with those emotions that will determine the outcome. Know that your decision will be worth it in the end because you are setting your child up for a successful future.