Preschool offers many benefits — it can be a great place for kids to learn valuable life lessons such as how to share, socialize, follow rules, interact with other children and adults. It also prepares them for future school steps and beyond!
The foundation that preschool provides is invaluable - ,, A landmark study of the benefits of preschool by the Carnegie Foundation concluded that children who began education in early childhood got more out of school in every grade and were more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. The children who participated in early education programs were also healthier and wealthier than their peers who did not ,,
But going to preschool does come with its fair share of emotions, for both the parent and the child. For a kid, entering a new preschool environment filled with unfamiliar teachers and kids can cause both anxiety and anticipation. Parents might have mixed emotions about whether their child is ready for preschool.
The more comfortable and prepared you and your baby is about this decision - the fewer problems you - and your little one - will encounter.
Below are tips on preparing children for their first day in child care that will help them settle more easily and take less time to adjust when day care starts.
1. It starts with you...
Some parents may face anxiety when it comes to hand their baby over to someone else. These emotions are normal. When parents feel guilty or worried about leaving their child at day care, the kids will probably sense that too. The more calm and confident you are about your choice to send your child to preschool, the more assured your child will be. Focusing on the benefits of attending the nursery, friends he/she'll make and the fun he/she'll have will make both of you feel better about this fantastic experience!
2. Talk about...
Talking positively with your child about the new environment, friends, carers and activities will help both you and your child feel positive. Introducing a playful way to talk about it can be a great way for your child to explore positive emotions and understand new events - read or tell funny stories about the experience (you could try picture books or even animations about starting child care or making new friends. The right books give you fantastic quality time with your child, and help them to understand what going to daycare or preschool means, and understand that these partings are temporary. Your local library might have some suggestions), role play the daycare setting with stuffed animals or with their favourite toys, make up stories to share with your child or draw pictures about daycare with your child to prepare your child mentally and get him/her familiar with the new experience.
While acknowledging this important step your child is taking and providing support, too much emphasis on the change could make any anxiety worse, so take a baby steps if needed and be careful not to over hype the upcoming new adventure.
3. Visit the nursery with your little one...
Going together to the nursery before the first day will help your child get acquainted with the new environment, toys, sounds, new faces and give you a point of reference when you talk about where he or she will be staying. You can subtly encourage your child to play with the toys and do some activities while you’re there to increase your child’s comfort and confidence in this new setting. If your child knows who will be looking after him/her and talk about the person by name, this person will become more familiar to your child which will make things much easier.
4. Explain the Schedule
Making your child aware of his or her schedule during the day at day care is important. Talk to your little one about the daily schedule. Tell them what to expect for circle time, rest, snacks, and indoor/outdoor play. Let your child know it’s normal to feel happy, sad, excited, scared, or worried. Explain that starting something new can feel scary and that lots of people feel that way. Reassure your child that day care is a good place where she will have fun and learn new exciting things. It can be helpful to share a time when you started something new and how you felt. When you allow your child to share her worries, you can teach him/her how to deal with them.
Purchase a backpack together with your child. If possible, let your child choose it himself. This gives him/her a sense of control and emphasizes the fact that he/she is a''big kid'' starting a new and fun adventure! Play with your child by practicing self-help skills, such as unzipping her coat, hanging her coat on a hook, putting on her backpack or fastening the shoes. You can start making every now and then lunch packs at home which will give him/her a chance to practice unzipping the lunch box and unwrapping its content - important skills for the first day!