Are you planning to put your child into preschool and want a smooth home to preschool transition?
Worried about separation anxiety?
Worried if he will adjust to his new place and routines?
Here are the 12 parenting guidelines to help your child settle in preschool, day care or school.
The vacations have set in and many parents are getting ready to put their toddlers to a play group or a preschool.
Transition from home to a crèche, a pre school or a play group can be easy for some kids and difficult for some. Every child is different and his or her ability to adjust in a new environment differs. So some would be excited and happy whereas another bunch would be nervous and scared.
To make this transition easy, I pen down some tips and tricks, some of them from my own personal experience.
12 Tips for easy home to preschool transition:
It is always good to start practicing certain things beforehand at home as your child will need time to adjust to preschool routines. Also helping him to cope with separation anxiety is also a must.
So let us go through a few tips for preschool parents that can help their kids settle in a nursery.
#1. Build an interest
Before starting preschool, give an idea of what her preschool days will be like. Build an interest in them by talking about the activities and the play time that they are going to have. Assure them that its going to be a party all through; making new friends and new toys and plenty of activities.
Show them how other kids/siblings go to school everyday. Talk about how much fun they are having in school.
Try to build an interest in her to join the school just like her elder sibling or other older kids.
#2. Visit the preschool
Before you start sending them to the preschool, its better to make a visit to the preschool along with your kid. Familiarize her with the new environment. Do as much positive talk about the new place as possible.
Give her opportunity to meet the teacher or caretaker and be familiar with her.
#3. Read preschool stories or do pretend plays
Once I decided to put my LO in preschool, my stories, games etc. all revolved around what she would be doing in her new environment. That pretty much seemed to keep her excitement levels high.
Pretend plays are good to give them an idea of what their preschool days will be like. You can take turns being the teacher, parent and child. Practice saying good-byes, eating tiffin from a lunch box etc. Sing rhymes or read stories together as a part of this preschool pretend play. You can even invite some of his friends and play together.
Story books about starting preschools are also good.
You can buy some and read it to your child if she is interested.
For example – Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experiences Book, The Night Before Preschool and Going to Playschool are some recommended books.
#4. Set the routine
Everyone is rebellious to sudden changes and kids are no exceptions to it. So one of the most important things is to slowly set their routine beforehand.
For example , if your LO has to be in school from 9 am to 12 pm and if he or she is used to taking a nap during this period that definitely needs to change.
Adjust your breakfast / brunch at home as per school routine so that they can adjust to the new meal timings at school in a much easier way.
Also if the waking up time doesn’t match with the school time, gradually change that too.
Practice the change in routine at home for a week or so before the preschool starts. It will be much easy and stress free for the child once he actually starts the school.
#5. Dealing with separation anxiety
Children tend to cry when they start their schooling. Its not really because they don’t like the new place, its more because you are leaving them. Separation anxiety is what makes them emotional most of the times.
My LO still cries to school if she happens to go after a break of few days. But the moment she enters school she is pretty normal and plays around. First few days or weeks of the settling period, there would be a lot of crying which is quite normal.
When the child cries, you shouldn’t show tension or stress. When you show tension, kids will also feel tensed. Instead give the an assurance that they are safe in preschool and you will be coming to pick them up soon.
#6. Keep goodbyes short and sweet
The longer the goodbye, the longer the settling period. Keep it short and simple. Assure them that you will be back soon to pick them from school or he will be home soon to be with his parents.
A good bye kiss or a hug is enough with a happy face is enough.
#7. Try practicing separation
If your child has never stayed away from you, it is time you leave your child for an hour or so with a trusted person like his grandparents or your friends or a trusted baby sitter.
Before you go tell him that grandpa/his baby sitter and he will have a great time together while you are away.
See how the child handles himself when you are not around. Ask the baby sitter if he was comfortable or scared. Talk to him in a positive way about how he felt when you were not around.
#8. Teach the child his real name
If your child has a pet name and is not accustomed to be called out by his ‘school name‘, time to start practicing at home.
There have been instance at preschools where child does not respond to his name simply because he doesn’t know that’s his name 😛
Though a simple thing, this can cause confusions and lead to tantrums if not looked into.
#9. Encourage making friends
If there are any kids around your neighborhood who are going to the same preschool, try to introduce him/her to your child.
Let the two of them have play dates together so that they will become friends. This can help when they join the preschool together. It will be a great relief for them to see familiar faces at a new place.
#10. Shop for the school stationary together
When you shop for her new bag, tiffin box, or other essentials for school, take her too. Shop together and use this opportunity to explain to her how she will be carrying her brand new backpack or how she will be eating food from a tiffin box as big kids do.
#11. Ask her about the new school
After your girl is back from preschool ask her how her day was. Encourage her to share her doubts, excitement, worries or fears. Talk about the activities they did at school and about the new friends she made.
Take time to listen to what your preschooler has to say. Reply with lot of positivity and excitement.
#12. Try to enroll in a fresh batch
My LO started mid of the year, the second session, so there weren’t too many new joinees. This made her the minority and she often felt left out amidst kids who were already adjusted to the preschool. This made the transition even more difficult.
So from my experience, I would say that it is best to enroll your child with a fresh batch so that you are a part of the crowd and not a minority.
FAQ by parents when their kid starts preschool
Even if you prepare your child for a smooth transition, once they start schooling, there will be lot many questions that you as a parent will have. I had them too and some of them are listed here.
#1. How many days should I accompany her to school ?
Since most preschools allow parents during the settling period, its advisable to stay around for at least a week or two depending upon how your LO reacts being at school. The caregivers usually let you know if you need to be around for more duration.
For my LO, I was around ( waiting outside the school) for 2 weeks. However she took about a month to settle in completely to the school.
# 2. What if my child cries after I leave?
Most of the time children cry after the parent leaves. Even if they cry, that’s quite normal. The caregivers know how to distract them by involving them in their favorite activity. If needed, (that is if they are not able to handle your child) they will give you a call.
In most cases, the child tends to settle in once busy in some activity.
#3. What if the school doesn’t allow parents to accompany the child?
Some schools doesn’t allow you to be around your kid during the settling period. In such cases don’t be tensed. The school people know how to handle the kids and they will intimate you if needed. After all they have been in the business and have handled a lot more kids.
If the school doesn’t allow or if you are not able to make it to be in school with your child during the settling period, always make it a point to call the caregiver and get an update about your childs progress in getting adjusted to the school.
#4. What if my LO doesn’t eat anything at school?
Well, there is a possibility that your LO doesn’t know how to eat on her own. In this case, let the caregiver know to help feed her. Also send some ‘easy to eat ‘ snack in the tiffin box. Try packing their favorite snacks. It works.
Also it is quiet normal during the settlement time that most kids don’t eat much. Ensure that they have had something before they go to school and once they are back.
Also when they are back home, open the snack box in front of them. Appreciate for whatever they have eaten. Encourage them by saying things like – “Mamma is very happy you ate the snack. Would be more happy if you finish the entire snack”.
#5. My child is not potty trained. Can it be a problem?
If your child is not potty trained or is in the middle of potty training, let the teacher/caregiver know about it. Some preschools give potty training too. Preschools always have frequent toilet breaks and some even change the nappies and all if needed. Talk to your preschool staffs about this.
If you haven’t started potty training at home, it is time to start.
#6. Even after settling at preschool, my LO still cries while going to school. Is this normal?
My LO has been going to school for over 5 months now. But there are days when she cries and doesn’t want to go. On such days after she reaches school, I check with her caregivers if she is normal and playing around and the response is always positive. Its just that moment of anxiety when they are leaving.
#7. When do I need to worry?
If you observe a sudden change in the behavior of your child or if a happy child has turned gloomy and not playful at home, there would be something wrong.
Talk to your child. Get details about what worries them. Talk to the caregiver and find out if something at school is bothering them. This is the time you might need help or might need to check if the particular school is the right choice for your LO or not.
The above pointers are from my personal experiences.
Remember every child is different and so would be your experience with your LO when he or she starts school. This is definitely a great milestone for your child.
Hope the tips to help child settle in preschool that I have shared will help you too.
How long did it take for your kid to settle down in playschool?
How was your child’s transition from home to preschool – smooth/difficult?
Do you have any pointers to help parents to get their kids ready for preschool?
Do share in the comments.