Like it or not, it’s time to start thinking about going back to school. Here are some thoughts from my friend Dianne Miller on sending your little one to preschool.
Preschool is a big step for every child, whether or not they have had the experience of day care outside the home. School is different from home care or even day care.
Although your child has already learned social skills at day care or with mommy-and-me play dates, school requires greater skills of cooperation and participation. School requires more structured transitions. The day is often very regulated with emphasis on lining up, taking turns and completing tasks. And for the first time, academics are the main emphasis and have consequences. Previously in a preschooler’s life if they weren’t ready for an introduction to the alphabet, it didn’t matter. Now it is a goal of the program.
Heading off to preschool for a three or four year old can be as stressful as heading off to college for a young adult.
But there is plenty you can do to prepare your child. If possible, try to take your child to the school they will be attending. Some schools have an open house where your child can meet their teacher and see the classroom. Definitely attend if you can. But if you can’t, or in addition to an open house, stop by the school on a weekend morning to play on the playground and walk around the building. The more familiar your child is with the location the more comfortable they will be.
Try to find opportunities for your child to interact and play with many different children. Visit a playground where your child doesn’t usually play. Go to a children’s program at a museum or a parks and recreation event for kids, most often they are free. Your child’s preschool class will be full of new people on the first day. And even if your child has a playmate they already know in the class, it will be a big adjustment to learn to deal with so many new people. Having experienced new children on a regular basis before school starts will help your child feel less anxious and more comfortable making new friends.
And one of the best things you can do with your child to prepare for preschool is attend story hour at your local library or bookstore. It has all the elements of school: new playmates, structure and learning, but in a tiny dose. Just enough for a first introduction. As you and your child go back week after week, you will notice your child becoming stronger at sitting still, paying attention and following directions as well as learning from the books and enjoying the other children.
Each child acts differently on the first days of preschool, some may cry, others act out and still others may become quiet and withdrawn. Hopefully with the help of a good teacher, the anxiety of the first few days will pass quickly. A little introduction to what is to come in the form of school tours, recreation programs and story hours will go a long way to prepare your child and make their adjustment to school quick and easy.
Here are a few books perfect for preparing your child for preschool:
The Night Before Preschool, by Natasha Wing
Kevin Goes to School, by Liesbet Slegers
The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn
Kangaroo Goes to School, by Sonia Levitin
Llama Llama Misses Mama, by Anna Dewdney
Wemberly Worried, by Kevin Hendes
I Like Myself, by Karen Beaumont
Splat the Cat, by Rob Scotton
Little Rabbit Goes to School, by Harry Horse
Dianne and I have similar ideas about the best way to prepare for new beginnings. I ALWAYS turn to a book when confront with a new situation; how about you?
Another thing Dianne have in common is the belief that sending your little one off to preschool or college is equally stressful. I’ve already sent one toddler off to college and very very soon will send another one off. I wanted to share with you a few pics of my little one just as Dianne has shared her little with us.
My Pumpkin went from dolls:
to Diplomas (this is her high school senior photo)
When did she grow up?
So tell me, what books do you turn to to prepare for back to school (any school)?
Dianne Miller is a landscape painter who lives in Virginia with her husband and two daughters. Her work includes the Little Bunny series written for her children when they were preschoolers. The simply written and illustrated books gently guide Little Bunny through the challenges of life. You can find tons of original, free printables and the Little Bunny series.