My little guy is starting preschool this week! I’ve had a lot of people asking me if I am sad about it, but I am so excited! As a recovering preschool teacher, I have seen first hand the amazing experiences that kiddos have when they go to preschool. Sure, there will be tears (maybe a lot) but in the end they just have this confidence that you didn’t even expect.
Now, that doesn’t mean I’m not anxious. It is a BIG transition for any kid and as his Mom I want to do anything I can to ease it for him. In the end, of course, I have to step back and let him be the big kid he is but that doesn’t mean I can’t “set him up for success” in some small ways.
Below are some resources I collected from around the web (and my own experiences) I hope they are helpful for you too.
Social Stories about School: If you have an idea of what the schedule will be like every day (even generally) you and your child can write a story about it. Social Stories are great in lots of situations (dealing with difficult behaviors, new situations etc.) and can be a resource you go back to whenever it is needed.
Make a schedule of the day/week: If you have a schedule posted somewhere it can be a reference point when your child is feeling like they don’t know if it is a “school day” or a “home day.” It can also take some pressure off YOU because you can just refer to the schedule when you get a pout about going to school…it isn’t you it is on the schedule!
Read Books: For some kids this can be a great way to get comfortable with a new situation. Like a social story, it gets them used to the routine of what is happening. Since it is about “other” people it can also be a safe way to explore some of their questions, concerns and fears. The questions can be about the character, giving them a little distance from it.
There are many, many, books about starting school so if your child has a favorite character you can probably find a book about it! Here are just a few that I’ve either used or had highly recommended.
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
- David Goes to School by David Shannon
- Will I Have a Friend? by Miriam Cohen
- First Day of School by Anne Rockwell
- When I Miss You by Cornelia Maude Spelman
- Take a Kiss to School by Angela McAllister
- It’s Time for Preschool by Esme Raj Codell
- A Pocketful of Kisses by Audrey Penn
- Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
- Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee
- How Do Dinosaurs Go to School by Jane Yolen
- Franklin Goes to School by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark
- Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin
- I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child
You can also use school situations that come up in your family life (older siblings?) or on TV to help you talk about it. My son doesn’t have a lot of frame of reference for school…but he loves Sid the Science Kid! We talked about how Sid goes to school and he will get to also and pointed out the teacher, the classroom and saying goodbye to Mom.
Practice your goodbye routine! Whatever you are planning to do (two kisses and a big hug by the door, 1 book then a kiss etc.) practice it and STICK to it. Don’t get pulled into TWO books one day, trust me. (Thank you Krista for reminding me of this important point)
If your child is struggling with saying goodbye, they might benefit from some sort of transition object. Maybe there is a family picture in their cubby so they can give it a kiss if they are sad, or a small toy/book that they can bring in to “show” their teacher when they get to school. This works great for some kids, and would make the whole thing harder for others. Talk to the teacher about what they allow and encourage in school and think about how easy or hard it is for your child to put something down when you leave home/park/friend’s house.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children is a great resource for parents. They’ve put out a number of different articles about getting ready for school. A simple “round up” article is 13 Tips for Starting School
As a parent, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed yourself! Like any profession, education has its own jargon and sometimes teachers don’t realize they are throwing it around without explanation! Here are a few Teacher Terms Demystified…but of course you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for clarification!
Also, if you are still trying to navigate the relationship between you and your child’s teacher, this article gives you a few tips on Talking to Teachers. The biggest thing to remember is that they are regular people and that they care fiercely about your child thriving.
One last article that has been making the rounds online is about Asking about school…without asking about school. It isn’t a perfect list (the author freely admits that) but it could give you a starting point. I had one family that would ask their daughter to tell them 3 things that happened that day, sometimes a specific conversation “goal” can be helpful!
Best of luck with the transition for you…and your kiddo!