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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Preparing Your Little One for Preschool

By Guest Blogger Susan Stephens, Teacher at Knollwood Baptist Church Preschool's that time of year again!! It doesn't matter if this is your first child to go to preschool or your third child, going to preschool can be both exciting and tearful all at the same time.

Read below to find some helpful tips for you and your preschooler as the start of the year gets closer:

1) Be sure to attend your child's Open House or Orientation with his or her teacher. Most of the time, this is scheduled as a one-on-one (or even a small group) time with the teacher and the assistant right in your child's classroom. The teachers typically want you to bring your child with you -- this gives both you and the child an opportunity to see their new classroom and get acquainted with all the new sights they will be seeing each day this year.

If your child's Open House or Orientation is a one-on-one opportunity, take this time to tell the teacher and assistant about your child. It is always best to be as honest as possible -- the teacher would rather you let her know ahead of time that Julie sometimes tends to bite other children now, so they can go ahead and be prepared. Believe me -- most teachers have seen most everything and nothing will come as much of a be honest and tell them all the great things about your child as well as any potential issues that might arise.

Finally, be mindful of your assigned time slot for your child's Open House or Orientation. The teachers have assigned these times so that they can spend equal time with all the parents and children, so please arrive on time and be aware of when your time slot is coming to a close.

2) Take your child over to the preschool and walk around before the first day of school. Go out on the playground and let them play. The more they are familiar with the preschool building and setting, the more comfortable they will be once preschool begins. Ask your child's teacher for a class list so you can make plans to invite some other classmates over to the preschool playground to play.

3) More than likely...there will be tears!! It doesn't matter if you are dropping off a 2-year-old or a 5-year-old, children will cry and parents will cry!! The teachers are ready and prepared for this and they are more than OK with you leaving your crying child with them. The longer you stay around, the harder it is to leave (for both you and your child!!) Make plans to say good-bye and leave them in the capable hands of their teacher. If it makes you feel better, most preschools will be glad for you to call back and have someone go check on your child to see if they are OK (and most often -- they are fine!!)

If your child's preschool offers a drop-off option, take advantage of it. Everyone understands walking your child in on the first day of school (I certainly plan to walk my 3rd grader and my kindergartner in on their first day!!), but after that, make plans to use the drop-off line. It may be hard at first and there may be a few tears and struggles, but like saying good-bye, it will quickly pass and you'll be so thankful that your child is gaining independence and growing up!!

4)Finally, if you do have any questions or concerns or just want to check in on your child with their teacher, be sure to e-mail them or give them a call. Generally speaking, drop-off and pick-up times are not always conducive for having a parent-teacher meeting. Every teacher would be love to speak to you about your child and address any concerns you might be having, but they can give you much more personal attention if they are not trying to load or unload children at the same time they are trying to talk to you. Just ask your child's teacher what method of communication they prefer and then drop them a message or give them a call.

Most of all, remember these wonderful days of preschool will be over before you know it!!! Have fun and your child will have fun as well!!


Gretchen said...

I like the idea of taking the child to the playground ahead of time. I think we may need to do that this week!

Allison T said...

Great tips, Susan! I wish I had thought of taking my children to the preschool playground before they started.

Anonymous said...

This was a great article. My son is two and starts pre-school and I am a little like a fish out of water, not knowing what to expect. Thank you.

Amy said...

I am glad it is acceptable to leave a crying child at school. This happens to me every year and I always feel like I terrible parent when I leave. I guess this is one instance where tough love comes into play. My kids always seem to be perfectly fine by the second day.

Anonymous said...

Susan, these are all great suggestions for everybody!!I appreciate all of them as a mother and a preschool teacher.Marla

Helen said...

We are so excited for preschool to start! Thanks for all the comforting tips.

Kelly G. said...

Susan, I especially like the tip about orientation, and I would stress that parents be unafraid to ask questions—and WRITE THEM DOWN beforehand. Orientation goes so quickly and there is always something I forget to ask.

Leah Crowley said...

These are wonderful suggestions! All these ideas help move our children toward independence - a great self-esteem builder for both the children and the moms! Leah

Debra said...

You are a smarty! These are great suggestions. Too bad everyone doesn't read this site, it would sure be helpful.

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