Starting preschool is a tough time for children and parents. For children, everything is new. With their parents, toys and familiar settings out of sight and new faces and activities in front of them, it’s a lot to get used to. For parents, it’s the worry that they won’t be happy without you, but with the right preparation and with a little persistence, starting preschool can be just that bit easier than expected.
For tips on how to make your child’s first day at preschool a successful one, read on!
What age do children start preschool?
Between the ages of two and three is when you might look to send your child to preschool. At this age they’re growing in curiosity and wanting to learn, explore and make friends.
To help them on their educational journey, preschool is the best place to start. Being surrounded by children of similar ages, lots of toys and activities, your child’s development will come on in leap and bounds.
Visit the preschool with your child
Preschools welcome parents and children alike to view the premises before sending your child off. It’s an important part of the transition and helps both you and your child to feel at ease when starting preschool.
When you visit, let your child explore their preschool classroom whilst you get to know the preschool’s teachers better. Now is a great time to ask about what their day will look like, what activities they will be doing and how they will deal with separation anxiety in the first few weeks of starting preschool.
Pack a transitional object
Starting preschool doesn’t have to be all-new, send your child off with their favourite toy, blanket or a picture of the family for them to look at whenever they feel separation anxiety. A transitional object offers your child the support they need when everything has changed, this little bit of normality will help them to feel comforted and allow them to carry on with their preschool activities.
Before starting preschool, there are some activities that you can familiarise your child with. Simple things such as reading to them or with them, drawing and colouring, and playing outdoors are all things they can embrace before doing this for the first time in a different setting.
A child who is somewhat familiar with these activities before preschool will feel much more comfortable getting stuck in when they start.
Ask your child how they feel about starting preschool
No matter how big or small your child’s concerns, let them voice them. It might be that they’re worried about missing you when they’re at preschool, if that’s the case pop a picture of the family in their bag and remind them that you will be back to pick them up later on that day.
Let them know that their feelings are valid and that it’s OK to feel sad, happy, excited or worried, and that grown-ups feel those emotions too. You might want to share a time that you did something new, express how you felt and what you did to overcome these feelings.
Keep goodbyes short
Separating from your child on their first day at preschool is never going to be easy but here are some things you can do to help ease the transition.
- Stay for 10-15 minutes
- Remain upbeat and positive
- Make up a special goodbye
- Don’t be tempted to go back to the classroom
Once you and your little one reach the classroom, stay only a little while but enough to help ease their transition. Explore the classroom with them, meet the other preschoolers and have them sit down with a couple of toys. Once your child has familiarised themselves with the classroom, it’s time to say goodbye.
Keep tears at bay if possible, otherwise, you might have your child crying too and not wanting you to leave. Go through your short goodbye routine, whether that’s a big hug or a secret handshake. Do this to initiate your parting and to comfort them before you go. If you are at all worried that your child is having a hard time feeling engaged or excited about starting preschool, ask their teacher if they can stay with your child when you say goodbye so that they can support them when you leave.
As you walk away, keep going, even if you hear your child cry. If you come running back in, your child will keep doing it, so to help them grow their independence, don’t be fooled by their tears. In the next 10 minutes, it’s likely that they will be socialising with another child.
It can take preschoolers between two and four weeks to feel comfortable in their new classroom, so give them the time they need, it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Connect with Three Little Birds Children’s Nurseries
At Three Little Birds Children’s Nurseries, your children are at the centre of everything we do. We’re passionate about making preschool a safe space where children can expand their knowledge and make friends in the process.
Three Little Birds Children’s Nurseries follow the Early Years Foundation Stage framework (EYFS), which supports children in all aspects of learning and development up to five years of age.
If you’d like to know more about Three Little Birds Children’s Nurseries, you can contact us via telephone, email or by filling out our enquiry form for more information.