By: Angela Peters Murphy, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid
It’s back-to-school season, which is equal parts exciting and overwhelming, especially for preschool parents. We get it! Starting school for the first time is a big deal, but there’s no need to worry. Darcy Aksamitowski, an Evanston resident and the Head of Early Childhood at Roycemore School, says, “An early childhood program will provide a positive, safe, and nurturing environment where children are able to gain confidence in their skills.”
Here are some of our favorite practices to create an easy and intentional transition to preschool:
Read and talk about school
Reading and talking about what to expect in preschool is a great way to introduce new routines and ideas to your child. Build up anticipation for the school environment by sharing fun stories from your own school experience and asking questions about your what your child imagines preschool to be like! You can also create your own story about all of the fun things that are going to happen on the first day of school and make your child the main character.
Establish a school routine
We all love a relaxed summertime schedule. However, an abrupt change in routine might lead to the first-day-of-school anxiety that every parent wants to avoid. Make the transition easier by introducing elements of your school routine 2-4 weeks out from the start of school. Waking up and going to bed at the same time, packing lunches, and picking out fun outfits can make school seem like an adventure.
Meet the teacher and See the classroom
The most important thing you can do to prepare your child for starting school to meet the teacher and see the classroom. This can happen during an orientation or a back-to-school day and goes a long way toward demystifying the classroom environment and the people they will be interacting with. This is also an opportunity for you to ask your teacher questions about their expectations and how they handle the back-to-school transition on their end.
Offer them support on their first day
On the first day, allow your child practice independence while offering them support. For example, you could tuck a note into their lunch box, pack a special comfort object as a “back-to-school buddy,” or write a message of love on a piece of paper they can carry close to them. This way, while they are making friends, meeting their teachers, and doing activities, they know that their family is with them.
Don’t rush it
Allow your child time to adjust to their school environment. Going to school is entirely new for them and it’s normal to have big feelings come up, for both parents and children alike! Encourage them to share what they’re feeling about becoming students, but don’t push it. It can take months for this to feel “normal,” and it’s important to remember that every child has unique needs. Open conversations about how you are feeling can encourage them to share their own experiences and create healthy dialogue.
No matter how you choose to prepare for your first day of school, remember that it’s all about creating a safe and fun environment for you child to experience this first taste of independence. Good luck, and have a happy and healthy school year!