The First Day of Preschool
The first day of preschool is an exciting milestone for children and parents alike. While preschool offers many benefits for your child’s development and education, the new experience can also cause anxiety and uncertainty. With some advance preparation, you can help ease the transition and set your child up for success on their first day.
In this blog post, we will share tips and techniques on how to prepare children for the first day of school. With these steps and your support and encouragement, your child can approach the first day with confidence.
How to Prepare Your Child for the First Day of Preschool
1. Ease Anxiety by Discussing Preschool
One of the best ways to diminish first-day fears is to talk about what preschool entails. Describe what the classroom looks like and the types of activities they will do, like circle time, arts and crafts, and playground time. Use books, pictures, and videos to illustrate what preschool will be like.
Drive by the school and play on the playground to help familiarize them with the new environment. Highlight all the new friends they will meet and how much fun they will have learning and playing.
2. Establish a Comfort Item or Drop-off Routine
Allowing your child to bring a special stuffed animal or blanket can provide continuity between home and school. This comfort item gives them a sense of security in this new place.
You may also want to develop a consistent drop-off routine, like walking to the cubby area together or reading a short book before saying goodbye. Having a predictable ritual and transition item makes the separation easier once the first day arrives.
3. Practice Preschool Skills
In the weeks leading up to the first day, work on skills that will prime them for preschool success. Practice taking turns, sharing toys, and working independently during playtime. Read books together and ask questions to build listening and comprehension abilities.
Work on self-care tasks like using the bathroom, washing hands properly, and feeding themselves. Even simple things like packing and carrying their own backpack will make them feel capable on day one.
4. Set a Reasonable Bedtime
The new schedule of preschool means an earlier wake-up call. Begin adjusting your child’s bedtime at least two weeks before school starts so they don’t feel exhausted on their first day.
Aim to have them asleep between 6:30-8 p.m. depending on their age. Sticking to a consistent bedtime routine of bath, brushing teeth, storytime, and lights out will ensure they get enough restful sleep to take on the day.
5. Lay Out the Outfit and Gather Supplies
Allow your child to pick out special “first day clothes” so they feel excited about their outfit. Make sure it adheres to any preschool dress code but also allows them to move around comfortably.
Have them practice putting it on themselves. Additionally, gather any other supplies on your school’s list such as extra clothes, wipes, diapers or pull-ups, a water bottle, and healthy snacks and lunch. Check their backpack the night before to ensure everything is ready to go.
6. Visit the school together before the first day
Touring the school ahead of time helps familiarize your child with the new environment. Allow them to meet their teacher and explore the classroom. Walk through the daily routine so they know what to expect. Check out the playground, cafeteria, and other areas. This makes the first day less overwhelming.
7. Talk to your child about what to expect on the first day
Have open conversations about what will happen on the first day. Explain how you will get them there, who will be in the classroom, and what activities they will do. Highlight fun things like playground time, music, and art. Knowing the schedule and routines will ease anxiety.
8. Read books about preschool
There are many great picture books that illustrate a preschool day. Reading these together gives your child a visual preview of what their own experience will be like. It opens up discussions about exciting things like making new friends, participating in circle time, doing arts and crafts projects, and playing on the playground.
9. Play school at home
Set up a pretend classroom at home with their stuffed animals as students. Take turns being the teacher and student. Practice school skills like counting, writing names, sharing, taking turns, and listening. Role-playing builds familiarity with common preschool activities.
10. Be positive and excited about preschool
Your attitude can impact how your child views this transition. Be enthusiastic as you talk about all the fun of preschool. Share how proud you are of them for being a big kid ready for school. Highlight all the new learning adventures ahead. Your confidence in them will make them eager to take on their first day.
The first day of preschool marks an important milestone in your child’s development. While letting go can feel difficult for parents, proper preparation helps ease worries and empowers your little one to take on this new challenge.
Talking about preschool, establishing routines, practicing key skills, ensuring proper rest, laying out supplies, and offering encouragement are all great ways to get your child ready. With your support, their first day will be one of excitement, wonder, and joy as they take the first steps down their educational path. Learn here more about preschool care and growth.
What should I put in my child’s backpack for the first day of preschool?
Include an extra set of clothes, socks, and underwear in case of accidents, alongside any personal care items like diapers or wipes if needed. Pack a water bottle and healthy snacks/lunch. You may also want to include a comfort item like a small stuffed animal or family photo.
What time should I arrive for drop-off on the first day?
Check with your specific preschool for recommended arrival times, but plan to arrive 10-15 minutes before class starts. This gives you time to walk in with your child, assist with putting away items, and allows for a smooth transition.
How long should I stay on the first day?
It’s best to keep your goodbye short and sweet on day one. Lingering can increase separation anxiety. Give a hug, remind them you love them and will be back soon, and assure them their teacher will take good care of them.
What is the best way to say goodbye on the first day?
When it’s time for goodbye, keep things upbeat. Give a high five, blow kisses, do a silly handshake, or say a positive phrase like “Have a great time!” This helps avoid escalating an anxious reaction.
What should my child wear on the first day of preschool?
Dress your child in play clothes that are weather-appropriate, comfortable, and washable. Let your child pick out a fun first-day outfit so they feel excited. Check if the school has a specific dress code.
Should I prepare any paperwork for my child’s first day?
Gather important documents like birth certificates, physical records, and immunization forms. Confirm if you need to bring any signed paperwork related to pickup permissions, photo releases, or medications.
What if my child cries at drop-off? How should I handle it?
Reassure them you understand they’re sad but they will have fun soon. Remind them of pick-up plans, and highlight a fun preschool activity coming up like playground time. Keep goodbyes brief but loving. The teachers can comfort crying children.
How can I ease my own separation anxiety about my child starting preschool?
Remember this is an adjustment for you too. Focus on the positive impact school will have on their development. Share concerns with the teacher and get their feedback. Arrange for updates or photos during the day. Plan something special after pickup on day one!