Your preschooler is entering the first and biggest transition in his/her little life. Preschools across the country handle the separation of children from their parents in myriad ways. Regardless of your school’s particular approach, there are very concrete, helpful things you can do as parents with your little one to make this transition an easier one. It is important to start early (though not too early!) in preparing your preschooler for their first day of school.
Know and describe what a “typical day in the life” looks like. If your school does not have a pre-entry meeting with parents, call/visit the school so that you know what a “typical day in the life” looks like and talk through concretely with your child what it is they will be doing each day to build a sense of excitement and to lessen anxiety. Some schools allow you to bring your preschooler there ahead of time. That is a wonderful way for them to start to understand this new place to which they will be going.
Don’t make it a surprise. Start talking to your child about heading off to preschool about a week before his/her first day; you don’t want to spring this new experience upon them the night before, but you also don’t want to start talking about it too far in advance.
Read books that explore going to school. There are some wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated books that help your little one understand that school is a natural process and that even though Mommy or Daddy may not be there, their love still is. One of our favorite ones is The Kissing Hand. One word of warning, have tissues near by!
Talk about being apart, but most importantly talk concretely about your coming back. One of the biggest challenges for children is not in understanding that parents will leave, but that they will, in fact, come back. Again, if you are able to tell a child when in the day you will return that will be very helpful (e.g. after circle time, just after lunch, etc.).
– Our Friends at SavvySource.com
Starting School: The First Few Weeks