Preparing for the First Day of School

Preparing for the First Day of School

Counting Down to the Big Day

By Amanda Rock, Guide

You wouldn’t move to a new neighborhood without checking it out first. You wouldn’t start a new job without going to orientation. You wouldn’t buy a new car without test driving it. Any monumental occasion in our lives usually has some sort of preparation period preceding it. It’s the same with your child and preschool. The first step on your child’s educational journey, preschool is the beginning of an amazing adventure of learning and discovery. To help make the transition as easy as possible, take some steps ahead of time to prepare your child.

Help Your Child Do His Research

Many children experience anxiety1 about starting school and it’s mainly because they aren’t quite sure what it is. Talk about what she’ll be learning at school, why it’s important and how much fun she’s going to have. Talk about how she’ll be playing games, making crafts, singing songs and meeting lots of new friends. Be sure to tell her that you will be there (or name the person who will be) to pick her up as soon as school is over.

Playing “school” is a great way to help your child understand how preschool works and what will go on while he is there. Try to cover every little thing -- even stuff like hanging up her coat and backpack. You can even review basic “academics” -- colors, shapes, the alphabet and numbers 1-10. Make sure she knows his first and last name. If she bristles at all -- stop. These things aren’t important yet and you don’t want to add any extra apprehension.

If your child will be riding the bus to school, find out if the school will arrange for a test run. If not, be sure to point buses out whenever you see them. It’s not the same, but if you can, try taking your child a public bus ride just so they get the idea. When school starts make a point of introducing your child to the bus driver, making sure your child knows the driver’s name and bus number.

Check Out the Library

The library or your local bookstore offers a wealth of knowledge. Books are a great way to teach your child about what will be awaiting her. There are plenty of great books2 designed to help your preschooler get ready for the first day. Ask your local librarian or your child’s preschool teacher to recommend some titles. Good starts include My First Day at Nursery School (Bloomsbury) by Becky Edwards, illustrated by Anthony Flintoft, and What to Expect at Preschool (HarperFestival) by Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff, illustrated by Laura Rader.

Choose titles that are about school but also touch on separation3. Talk about the characters and how they must be feeling and what your child would do if he was in their place. If your child wants to keep rereading the same book, indulge him. This is how youngsters tend to work through aniexity.

Your local library may also host special programs designed to get your child ready. Ask at the children’s desk for more information.

Be Proactive

How comfortable do you feel walking into a room of strangers? Probably not at all. This is how your child feels. But with a little mom or dad networking you may be able to help them to seek out a friendly face by finding out who will be in your child’s class. Make a couple of phone calls to parents you know and find out if they or anyone else they know will have children at your child’s preschool. Once you have some names, see if you can arrange for a play date. This way, he won’t feel so alone when he walks into that great big classroom on the first day.

If you aren’t able to find any children that will be in your child’s class, don’t worry. Talk to your child and relay stories of your own youth and how you made friends when you went to school. Explain how that’s one of the best parts of going to school. Hearing a parent share an experience often helps children get over their fear if they realize that you once felt just like they did.



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