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Starting preschool is fun if you approach it the right way PDF Print E-mail
Written by Teacher Lee   
Monday, 29 July 2013 02:35

Teacher Lee BlissWith the new school year starting soon, it is time to think about how you will introduce your child to this wonderful new environment with the minimum of separation anxiety, tears and tantrums. After 30 years in the classroom I have 14 great ideas for you that will make the first day of school a breeze.

  1. Start Early
    Long before the first day of school, talk about preschool, read books about preschool, discuss how exciting it is going to be and be really positive about what lies ahead.

  2. Use Play-To-Learn as a resource
    If you have the opportunity to attend a Teacher Lee Play-To-Learn class, do it before school begins. This is a fun, FREE developmental preschool environment that children love. Because moms, dads or caregivers come along for the class, it is a wonderful way to prepare your child for a room full of children and a teacher figure in attendance. Having fun and learning to play and explore with other children in a non-threatening environment quickly makes preschool something your children will look forward to. When the time comes for you to leave the room and leave your child with the teacher the transition should be seamless.

  3. Take an outing to the School
    Visit the school with your child beforehand. It is a good idea to look at the toys and games. Spend some time playing together with the puppets, puzzles, blocks and books. The idea is to familiarize the child with class and then have loads to talk about and look forward to.

  4. Prepare
    Start school the night before. Give your child two or three choices of clothing you would be comfortable with them wearing to school. Let them know that the clothes they will be wearing can get dirty - that way they will not be concerned if they spill paint or get wet. When you wake up in the morning, there should be as little stress as possible. Just get up, wash up, help your child dress in the clothes he or she picked out, have a fun breakfast and then head for school laughing, singing, chattering about what to do first and generally feed the expectation.

  5. Get a routine down
    You might find it helpful to have a goodbye routine that could include a few minutes of play or reading a short story. Ask the teacher if she is on board with that first.

  6. Lingering longer doesn't help
    Don't linger. When you say goodbye, say it once and mean it. When children see worried or stressed parents lingering at the perimeters of the classroom, they may want to cry and come to your arms. The right teacher is a caring professional who knows how to deal with children and has made your child's well-being her life's work. Part of what we do is figure out how to settle children and bring them into the group where they will quickly start having fun and forget the anxiety. The idea is to choose the right school and place your trust in the teacher.

  7. Don't ask to go
    When the time has come to leave your child in the good hands of the teacher, don't ask your child for permission to leave. Tell the child you are leaving and go, even though leaving is often harder for parents than for the children.

  8. When you go ... go
    Once you have left, you may hear your child crying behind you. Resist the urge to turn and go back. The teacher has everything under control and knows just what to do to settle and engage your child. Its hard to do, but being able to walk away is probably the most important thing you can do to settle your child. Coming back will prolong the agony and some children never stop crying if they know mom or dad will turn around and come running back.

  9. Leave the toys at home
    It's a good idea to set a precedent that you don't allow your child to take toys from home to school. This creates all sorts of sharing issues when other children want to play with those toys and often lands up in tears. Some schools allow it, but I prefer to warn against it.

  10. Is your child ready?
    Make sure your child is ready for the experience. Get the opinion of a professional if you need to, but sometimes a child needs a bonus year before they are ready to enter the classroom. Children who are not ready to leave mom or dad may have a harder time adjusting to preschool than others who are a little more mature. If you want some great pointers on the subject, join Teacher Lee in Los Angeles on August 24 for a hands on seminar covering this topic. We will have a fully equipped Play-To-Learn classroom set up where parents or caregivers will learn how to play with their child in a developmental way, pick out the signs that their child is ready for preschool and know what to look for in the perfect preschool.

  11. Be social
    Set up as many play dates with other children of a similar age as possible. Children who show signs of stress on the first day of school will quickly start having fun and settling down when they have a familiar friend to spend time with in the class.

  12. Your teacher is your best friend
    Get to know the teacher and take her good advice. Most teachers will have great ideas to share if you are willing to listen. She is trying to make your adjustment easy and the child's experience of preschool great, so be open to what she has to say. If you have chosen the right school your teacher will set you on the right path and is a fantastic resource for those open to it.

  13. What is bored?
    Telling a teacher your child is bored easily is not helpful. Boredom is an adult perception and most children do not understand the concept. When your child enters the preschool classroom they will be excited by all the wonderful things there are to do. Some parents think their child loses interest and is bored quickly, this is just not the case. Very often we feel compelled to overstimulate children with gizmos, gadgets and flashing noisemakers like iPads and computers. What your child really needs right now, is to play with the physical world. Every child, if supervised by an attentive adult, will find great joy in playing with just about anything. The trick is to learn how to find that joy yourself and join your child in play. Once you learn to play, you will understand that your child finds wonder everywhere and wants to manipulate everything.

  14. Going to preschool is like going to Disneyland
    Preparing to go to school should be fun and filled with excitement. Talk to your child about how much fun it will be. Show your excitement while getting dressed, at the breakfast table, and in the car on the way. Talk about the toys your child will choose to play with first. If you are excited for the adventure, your child will be too and that is a great start.

The bottom line is that children love familiarity and don't enjoy upheaval. If you can make going to preschool fun; visit the class beforehand to establish a level of familiarity with the teacher and school; find friendly faces in the class; and leave quickly, without a fuss; your child should settle in quickly and have a wonderful preschool experience.

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