Set your alarm clock, it’s back to school time!
Whether this is your child’s very first time attending preschool or they are returning for another year, getting ready for the first day can be both exciting and scary. We want to help ease the overwhelming feeling, turn this into a fun and positive experience for you and your child, and prepare you for this wonderful new adventure.
These 7 back-to-school tips for parents of preschoolers will make the transition smoother and help kids ace their first day. Get ready to make some great preschool memories!
TIP 1 – Talk & Read About Going to School
Build up the experience by talking about the exciting aspects of going back to school. The thought of new school supplies and fun preschool adventures will help your little one look forward to the new school year. Ask questions about anticipated classmates, teachers, activities, hopes, and even classroom decor. Share your own sweet, adventurous back to school tales whiles making a countdown to preschool craft. Whatever you choose to talk about, the weeks leading up to that first day offers us meaningful opportunities to connect with our kids. It also gives us the chance to discuss any worries our children might have, as well as build enthusiasm. Listen to your preschooler and answer any questions she might have. Share insights into when you were in school and all the fun you had there.
Read books about school with your child – it’s a great bonding time, and often the books will spark a great discussion. Books are wonderful opportunities to create dialogue, address children’s fears, and establish some normalcy around going to school. There are plenty of books about the first day of school and being away from parents. Be sure to add some of them to your current reading material.
Or, you can make a book at home about the new preschool experience your child is about to begin! Get creative, take photos of the school or of your child in front of school and add text like: “This is Olivia at school. This is her favorite t-shirt. This is Mommy picking up Olivia when school is over.” Make it personal, relatable and fun.
TIP 2 – Get a School Routine Going Early
Summertime schedules are often different than school year schedules, and that’s okay- it’s vacation time! School days, however, will require early wake up times and set meal times, so establishing a school routine early is important. Nobody likes to be rushed or unprepared, and getting used to getting up earlier will make everyone more comfortable on the big day. Letting kids pick out their clothes, pack their lunches with things they look forward to eating, and having their backpacks ready the night before will help the morning flow and usually builds anticipation. Start easing preschoolers into their new routine in the weeks and days leading up to the first day of preschool to get their little bodies used to the altered eating and sleeping schedules. This will definitely help everyone have a smoother day! If you don’t, you may end up with one very cranky kid on the first day of school.
TIP 3 – Check Out the Preschool & Meet the Teacher
Of all the back to school tips, this is one of the most important!
Even if your child has been attending preschool for years, they will likely have a new teacher and a new classroom. It is essential to check out the new classroom and meet the new teacher ahead of time since change can be hard for kids to accept. If there is an orientation or school visiting day, make sure you and your child participate. A child familiarizing themselves with the space and the teachers ahead of time goes a long way towards easing beginning-of-the-year anxieties. You can also ask how the teacher handles the first tear-filled days. How will the first week be structured to make the transition smooth for your child?
TIP 4 – Encourage independence
While no one expects a 4-year old to do everything on her own, age-appropriate independence is important. Real tasks allow children to learn to take care of themselves. They also give kiddos a sense of true accomplishment. Some suggestions – cleaning up after themselves after meals, choosing clothes for the day, getting themselves dressed, etc. While perfection isn’t necessary, working towards independence is the goal. Resist doing for your child what they can do themself. While it may be quicker and easier to do it yourself, it won’t help to make your child more self-sufficient.
Putting your preschooler in charge of a regular, simple task will build their confidence and sense of competency. Let them solve simple problems. If you see your child trying to assemble a toy or get a book from a shelf that they can reach if they stands on their stepstool, pause before racing over to help. Assign a chore. A child who is entrusted to water the plants or empty the clothes dryer is likely to believe they can also get themselves dressed or pour their own cereal. Just be sure the chore you assign is manageable and that it’s real work, not busywork, since even preschoolers know the difference. The goal is to make your child feel like a capable, contributing member of the family.
TIP 5 – Prepare for Separation Anxiety
Sometimes young children deal with separation anxiety when back to school time rolls around. Honestly, some parents have trouble separating from their children too. In both cases, those feelings are totally normal! You’ve spent the whole summer together, and now it’s time to go your separate ways to work and school. Of course, it’s only for a few hours a day, but for a preschooler, this can seem like a lifetime. To make things easier on both of you, talk to your little one ahead of time. Let them know that you will be back to pick them up in just a few hours and remind them of all the fun they’re going to have with their friends and teachers.
It’s usually best to make the first day transition quick so children can move on to their first day of school. In the event that your child still holds some anxiety about school, and even if you have a crier, rest assured that preschool staff have helped many a kid through this time. They have spent years training and preparing for all kinds of challenges, and they are likely pros at handling this too. Of course, comfort and love on your little one (and yourself) gracefully, but then move on quickly. Remember, while these steps kids take without us can be scary, going to preschool is one of many stepping stones to our little people growing into who they are going to be.
For more info on how to ease separation anxiety in toddlers, CLICK HERE and revisit our earlier blog post “Tips for Stress-Free Daycare Drop Offs“:
TIP 6 – Purchase Special School Items Together
Going to the store and picking out school items is fun and creates a sense of excitement for what’s to come. There are a ton of super cute and fun school supplies out there. Have a blast picking out a backpack they love, snacks, whatever supplies are on the list you may have received from the school. Supplying your child with school gear they can enjoy will help get them excited about heading back to the classroom. Talk about the items at home and what they will get to do with them at school.
You may have also received a list of items not to bring to school. Make sure you read the list thoroughly and adhere to any and all classroom rules.
TIP 7 – Keep Communication Open & Pack a Comfort Item
It is a lovely idea to leave notes, drawings, and even little painted rocks in random places for your children to find. Sometimes in their lunches, and sometimes in their backpacks. This isn’t something to do just at the beginning of the year, and it’s not necessarily an everyday thing. But make a point to give them little personal surprise trinkets to let them know your heart is always there with them.
If your child has a beloved teddy bear, blanket or “lovie” that they use for sleep and comfort, it may be worth packing in case of an emergency. Comfort items can help reassure them during hard times. You could also give your child a personal belonging of yours like a favorite scarf or bandana so they know you will come back to get it.
Remember that separation is a process. Expect that your child (or yourself) will need time to feel comfortable with the new situation. Enjoy this year with your child. Make it as fun and exciting as possible. Our children already grow up too fast, so let’s make preschool one of the best years of their lives!
To learn more about our child care center in Eden Prairie and programs, contact us at 952-777-3606. We look forward to meeting you!
Or for more info about our programs click the button below and we’ll send you an email: