“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” ~ Dr Seuss
The day is finally here. The very first day of embarking on a learning journey. The first mountain to climb and conquer. Congratulations and welcome to preschool education. The first step forward is usually the toughest. You may probably be overwhelmed with so many emotions running through your head. You may feel elated and grateful that your child has been offered a place at the preschool that you have waited a year for; but you feel the little tugging in your heart and you can’t bear with the thought of your baby going on the adventure without you. Rest assure that you are not alone.
First things first.
Preparing for school
Introduce your child to the concept of school early. Reading books in relation to the first days of school would help him/her to better identify with the concept of school. You may also want to enact scenarios or do pretend play to help your child have a clearer understanding of what going to school is all about.
Bring your child along for a centre visit/orientation. It would be helpful for your child and you (yes, you parents) to be oriented to the new centre environment and be acquainted with the class teachers. After all, these teachers are going to be your child’s primary caregivers for the entire school year.
Adjust your child’s habits and routines. Routines give children a sense of security and let them develop self-discipline so do find out the time schedule of the preschool (nap and lunchtime especially) and some of the routines they practice, i.e. using shower-heads. Gradually adjust your child’s routine to suit the school’s routine. If you have yet to set a routine, it would be best to establish one.
Be involved in preparing for school. Find out what your child needs for school and bring him/her along for the selection and purchase of items needed for school – from picking out a school bag to buying a new blanket.
Pack the school bag early. It would be best to pack it before the first day so you would not miss anything out. Let your child assist you in putting in the things into the new bag where he/she learns to take ownership of his/her own belonging. You can even pick out an outfit for a very important day together.
First day of school
Brace yourself. You may be dealing with anxiety internally but please stay calm. Otherwise, pretend to be calm.
Talk to your child while preparing for school together. Keep the excitement and momentum upbeat about going to school. It would be good to arrive before the core hour starts as it gives your child time to settle down.
Typical preschools allow you to accompany your child for the first few days so don’t be so eager to say goodbye. It would be great if you could participate in the activities planned, especially in the toddler class. Do join in the fun – dance, paint, run, and more. You are a role model to your child. Also, please say hello to the rest of the children.
Do interact with the teachers. Your child would be observing and taking cues from you on how to react to the new environment. Chances are if you trust the teachers, your child would feel more at ease too. If in doubt, ask. It would be best to clarify with the teachers on your queries but, ask at appropriate times, not when the teachers are engaging with the children.
Don’t do the disappearing act. You are not a magician. Your child needs to feel safe in the environment. If you do need to go off, say goodbye to your child. Your child may cry and it may tug at your heartstrings but it is better for your child to be informed and expect what is to come. Nobody likes to be caught unaware. If your child cries, please try to resist the temptation to run back. Trust that the teachers would do their job to calm your child down. You can always call the school to get an update subsequently.
The mountain is waiting, so let’s get on our way.