With the excitement of the first day of preschool comes anxiety. It’s a big step in independence, and a major milestone for the whole family. Your home, family life, and routines have played a major role in shaping your child’s developing identity. If this is their first classroom experience, it will feel completely unknown. For you, you’ll be dropping your child off in a new environment; they’ll be a part of a community that only includes you peripherally.
Ways to prepare a few weeks beforehand:
Ask for the daily classroom schedule and do what you can at home to shift your child’s lunch, snack, and nap time schedules to match those of the classroom. Oftentimes, nap time is earlier in the classroom than it is at home. You may also need to adjust their bedtime so that they are waking up in the morning with plenty of time to get ready. Adjust their daily schedule gradually, 10-15 minutes at a time every day or two until you’re maintaining the classroom schedule.
Ask your child to help put on their own clothes, pick up their own toys, feed themselves (even if they make a mess), pour their own water from a small pitcher, wash their hands, and throw away their own trash. At the playground, avoid lifting your child onto platforms and play structures. Encourage them to solve problems, climb, reach for things on their own, and to do what feels safe to do alone.
Walk with your child when possible, avoid carrying them or chasing them. This will help them get accustomed to staying with a group for the first day of preschool.
Give them a general idea of the day. You can talk them through it, and some kids love it when you make it into a picture chart. “When you get to school, you will put your backpack in your cubby, and go to the rug for free play. Then you’ll eat snack. Next, there will be circle time when you will sing some songs and read a story with all the kids…then Mom/Dad/Nanny/Grandma will pick you up!”
Read books about preschool and school to give an idea of what to expect. Play ‘school’ with stuffed animals or a doll house. Additionally, if you can find a time to visit the classroom, or join the class at recess, that will help familiarize your child with the environment.
Go shopping for special school supplies together: backpack, lunchbox, water bottle, etc. Let your child pick out a new outfit for the first day of preschool. You can give them choices if that makes you feel more comfortable. Maybe they can even pick out a special snack to pack in their new lunchbox.
Practice talking through taking turns and waiting for things. Red lights in the car are a great opportunity for this, especially for vehicle lovers. “That car has the green light now, so its’s their turn to go. Our turn is next.”
Come up with a goodbye ritual and practice it before the first day. It might be fun to make a secret handshake. If you are able to give it a go on a weekend with a babysitter or grandparents. Perhaps meet at the school playground, go through your goodbye ritual, and then leave them in the care of someone else for 30-60 minutes at the playground.
On the First Day of Preschool
Take time getting ready on the first day; do not rush, this will only make the transition more stressful. Prep as many things as you can the night before.
- Offer to let your child choose their own outfit. This can really boost a child’s confidence!
- Some schools don’t allow you to bring toys or stuffed animals but may let a child leave it in their cubby. You could instead have your child bring a lovey or favorite toy for the car ride. Tell them it will be waiting in their car seat for pick up time!
- If you pack lunch or snack, pack familiar favorites.
- Put a picture of your family in their backpack if they need a little extra love while you are not there.
- At drop off don’t linger. Offer to do your goodbye ritual. They may completely ignore you, and that’s okay. They might cry or cling to you, but do your best to maintain a calm, confident and cheerful demeanor.
The first day of preschool will be here before you know it. Get excited with your child! Tears will pass and your child will become and independent preschooler with new friends in the blink of an eye. If you are looking for a nanny to help out during the school year, reach out today! Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny is offering a summer promotion of 20% off if you sign with a nanny before 9/03/2023.
About The Author
Claire Sherba is a nanny recruitment specialist. She finds and interviews highly qualified nanny candidates for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny. Claire has worked with young children and their families for nearly two decades, both as a private nanny and as a classroom teacher. She studied early childhood education at City College of San Francisco, and holds an MFA in writing and literature from Bennington College. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her family, reading, cooking & photography.