Miss Kirsten gives her 10 tips on making the transition to playschool happy, empowering, and smooth.
Read about it! Reading about characters going to school for the first time helps children relate to the unknown. Talking to your child about what looks fun, friendly, or scary can help work out feelings before you even enter the classroom. Also, if you have memory books of your first days of school, bring those out. Looking at picturess of Mommy and Daddy in school when you were their age is special.
Do a practice run. If you are planning to start playschool, visiting the classroom – even just the building – can make the drop-off feel more familiar to your child.
When dropping off, try to resist the urge to linger if your child is upset. Most often, a clean break ends up being easier for the child, who can then be distracted by being engaged in an activity, and comforted by a teacher. Drawing out the impending break from a parent can sometimes be worse. You can always stick around outside the classroom out of sight to make sure they settle in.
Send in the lovey for comfort. Having something familiar from home to comfort them is an easy way to help then feel safe.
Dress them for success. Wearing a favorite superhero shirt, a locket with a family picture, or new light-up sneakers can act as the feather to Dumbo’s flight. Let them choose – the more choices they have, the more in control they will feel.
Tell them what to expect and build in a routine. Going over the plan for the day every morning at breakfast gives toddlers a feeling of control. Talking about what will happen during the day so they know what day they have playschool, and what they do before and after it helps them emotionally prepare for it. A simple picture board, like the magnetic Schkidules one, can make it fun.
Set up a playdate with friends they will be joining in class. Friendly faces in the classroom always helps.
Send them with a full belly. Resist the urge to celebrate with sugary donuts and instead make the healthiest breakfast they will eat. Maybe dress it up with fun shapes for the special day, but keep it healthy so they aren’t going into class on a sugar high – with the impending low looming over the teacher.
Plan a celebration after the first day. The promise of a trip to the ice cream shop or the playground after school can make the start of playschool more exciting. It is especially useful if you use their trip to playschool as a bonus: “Now that you are a big play schooler, I bet you’ll be super at helping me bake your cake!”
Tell them you are proud of them. Tell them they are big, strong, smart, independent, and ready to learn like a big kid. Use empowering language to build them up. If you can present it that they are going to school because they are eager instead of you are forcing them to go is incredibly empowering for them.