The big day is almost here. The first day of preschool.
Inviting reading nooks. Cubbies brightly labeled with each student’s name. Learning centers stocked with colorful art supplies, puzzles, blocks and more.
As parents approach the door on the first day of preschool with cameras ready, smiling teachers and cheerful classrooms wait, ready to welcome a new class,.
The first day of school is an occasion worth celebrating every year. But for students starting school for the first time ever, it’s an exciting – and maybe overwhelming – milestone. While you may look forward to the friendships, independence and discoveries that await your future scholar, enrolling in school also means leaving the comforts of home and adjusting to different routines.
Teachers know families often struggle with conflicting emotions as their kids embark on new adventures in prekindergarten. A little preparation ahead of time can help the first first day and the days following run smoothly. Corbett Prep teachers offer their top 5 tips to help families make a positive transition to student life.
First Day of Preschool: Separation anxiety is temporary.
Sometimes it’s gone in minutes, sometimes it takes a few days.
“Separation anxiety is normal,” says Corbett Prep PreK3 teacher Lauren Fopp. “Trust your teacher, and they will handle it.”
Parents want to walk their children to their classrooms on the first day of preschool. . But long goodbyes at the door can make those first few mornings difficult.
Give your child a hug and a kiss, and then make your exit. Most of the time, even a sobbing child will calm down quickly once he or she can focus on new friends or interactive learning centers and will mimic other students who are adjusting more easily.
And if you are tempted to sneak a peek in the classroom window, try to stay hidden. A glimpse of mom or dad can start the waterworks again.
Read all about it.
Many books today help children process complicated feelings. Scholastic’s online list “14 Books to Get Kids Excited About the First Day of Kindergarten” offers recommendations appropriate for younger children. Fopp loves Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand with its sweet message of a raccoon mother who reassures her nervous kit with a kiss. The raccoon tells her son he can hold that kiss in his hand and press it on his cheek when he needs a reminder of her love.
To introduce themselves and ease the transition before the start of school, the Corbett Prep’s kindergarten team shares The Night Before Kindergarten, a takeoff of the classic Christmas poem with their incoming students via video before the start of school. The kindergarten teachers read the re-imagined story together and email the video to families.
Make a “hug button.”
A mom in England shared online a clever idea to give a child an instant connection to home: draw a “hug button” on your child’s hand. She drew matching hearts on her hand and her 4-year-old son’s hand and told him he could press the heart to send a hug to her anytime during the day, and she would do the same.
The idea went viral, and for good reason. Like the Kissing Hand, a thoughtful reminder such as the “hug button” gives kids a tangible way to feel connected when they are away. Fopp also suggests students pack a family photo in their tote bag to peek at if needed.
Practice your schedule.
A relaxed summer routine is great until you have to get out the door on time in the morning. A few weeks before school begins, gradually shift your schedule to mirror school days. If your family is used to leisurely mornings, your adjustment to the school year will go better if you start waking up at a set time and having breakfast right away.
Students in Corbett Prep’s Early Primary classes – PreK3, PreK4 and kindergarten – have busy days packed with learning, play, arts and physical education and are often famished by the time their snack break rolls around. It’s important for students to arrive at school having eaten something because they will be burning a lot of energy during the day. Spending some weeks in advance of school helping kids acclimate to eating at a certain time of day will help when that school day alarm clock goes off. Find out when snack and lunch time are, too, and move toward that schedule as well.
Prepare for the second day.
Occasionally, the second day may pose more of a challenge than the first, says Kindergarten teacher Marla Vildostegui. Excitement and special first-day-of-school activities can carry students through day one. But new students may be surprised to find out they are returning every day! If your first dropoff was great and the second a struggle, just give it time. Stick to your routine, make sure your kids head to bed early and be ready to offer extra hugs and reassurance. Before you know it, you will all feel like school is a natural part of your family’s week.
It’s also possible that your child is more than ready to begin his or her school career. You may be the one who needs help coping with the transition. “It’s almost always harder for the parents than the kids,” Vildostegui says. If that’s the case, try to remember that you chose this school for a reason.
Your child is in great hands, surrounded by teachers who value them in an environment that introduces them to the wonders of learning.