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Preparing Your Child for Preschool

Jan 9, 2008
For most children the prospect of preschool is exciting. They can't wait to get there and play with the other children. There are some however who aren't emotionally ready for the transition from full-time with mom to being with strangers part of the day. If you have a child who is unsure and not looking forward to this new challenge, there are some things that you can do to help prepare your little one for the adventure that lies ahead.

Despite what you feel about the fact your "baby" is about to try his wings without you, you need to present a happy and enthusiastic attitude when talking about preschool. This is important because whatever you feel you're child will pick up on. Many moms cry as they wave their child off into the classroom on that first day, but until that day comes, you've got to turn in an Oscar winning performance that preschool is better than Santa and the Easter Bunny combined!

Enthusiasm is contagious and so if you are positive about the idea of your child going to preschool, your child is going to slowly come around to the idea that maybe it's not such a bad thing after all!

Talk to your child about why they don't want to go. What are they afraid of? Listen to them without interrupting, and then validate their fears. It's OK to feel that way. Yes it does sound scary to go into a room where you don't know anyone. But then reassure them that although they don't know the other children when they go into the class, by the time recess come, they will have made some new friends. Explain also that most of the other children will be feeling a bit scared because they won't know anyone either.

Start a routine that you will follow when your child goes to preschool. This should be from getting up in the morning and what you will do -- such as bathroom activities, breakfast, dressing etc. If you can, you could even drive/walk to the preschool your child will attend so that they get into the habit of going there and on the day they start it will be familiar to them. Let your child see the kind of things you'll be doing while they're gone, such as laundry and other chores. Again, if your schedule allows, at the right time of day return to the preschool so that your child can see the other children at the school returning to their moms. This will reinforce the fact that you will come back and eliminate any fear they have of being abandoned.

If there are children of a similar age in the neighborhood who will be attending the same preschool, see if you can set up a play date so that they get to know each other. Contact the other mom and suggest that it might be an idea for them to get to know each other so that there's someone else that they know starting on the same day -- her child is probably having the same anxiety issues and so it's a win-win situation for all of you.

There's nothing wrong in having some first day separation and/or anxiety tears of your own on the first day, but your award winning positive performance must be convincing right up until the time you return alone to your car or home after leaving your child in his new environment. Any sign of weakness on your part will undo any of the work you've done in building his confidence up about this new part of his life.

Preschool is an exciting time but that first day, or even the first week in some instances, is a big hurdle to cross but the preparation you do beforehand can make a big difference in how they react when they actually get into the classroom and you walk away. Once your child settles however, you'll find that the anxiety issues they had will disappear and they'll start to chatter about their daily experiences and be eager to go back the next day.
About the Author
Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at http://www.aimhightutors.com/blog
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