Transitioning to school can be an emotional time for many. As parents, you may feel conflicting emotions about this milestone. You are probably excited about all the fun and learning that your child will have and the new friends that he or she will make, but you may also be a little sad that your baby is venturing out into the world without you. These feelings are all normal and likely these are many of the same emotions that your child is going through as well.
There are things you can do to help your child prepare for school, but it is important to keep your efforts low-key. If you make too big of a deal out of this milestone, your child may end up being more worried than excited. Here are a few ideas that you can do at home, to prepare for the transition to school:
USE PRETEND PLAY TO EXPLORE THE CONCEPT OF PRESCHOOL
Take turns being the child and the teacher. Role play what that looks like including saying good-bye, sitting at circle time, singing songs and reading stories. Add props such as white boards, dry erase markers, pointers and a calendar to make these experiences more fun and authentic.
READ BOOKS ABOUT PRESCHOOL
Some stories such as “Preschool Day Hooray!” by Linda Strauss and “Mouse’s First Day of School” by Lauren Thompson, help introduce children to the things they will see and play with at school. Other books like “I Love You All Day Long” by Francesca Rusackas and “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn, help children deal with being away from Mommy and Daddy. Another book entitled, “My Teacher’s My Friend” by P.K. Hallinan, explains the role of the preschool teacher and how she helps kids learn a lot of important things while having fun. As you read these books, talk about how the characters are feeling and ask your child how they are feeling.
SELECT SCHOOL SUPPLIES TOGETHER
Allowing your child to be part of this process can help ease them into this transition. As students select all of the items that they will need at their new school, they build self-esteem and empowerment. These traits will be useful and necessary when school begins. Having familiar items like a notebook or folder with a favorite character on them can also be comforting to children when they are away from parents.
Putting their name on their items can also help with building these skills and will allow an opportunity to talk about and count the letters in your child’s name (which will be an initial activity at school as well).
TALK ABOUT ROUTINES
Discuss with your child how you will be going to school (car, walk, etc). What time will you need to leave? What steps do they need to accomplish in the morning before you leave? It is a good idea to have a visual chart for your child depicting these things such as eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, go to car or whatever else might be part of your normal day. If your child is only going three days, provide a calendar that marks the days that they will be attending school and cross off each day so that they can be prepared.
Routines are important for children as they help establish comfort in knowing what to expect. It is a good idea to talk with your child and develop a routine for drop-off. Perhaps this is giving them a kiss on their palm to hold all day long or singing a special song together before you leave the classroom. Whatever your routine is, it is important that your child is instrumental in selecting it and that you keep it consistent.