Editor's note: The following back to preschool tips were provided by Center Director Cori Warnke at .
Back to Preschool Tips:
As a Center Director at KinderCare Learning Centers, I know how exciting the beginning of a new school year can be, but I also see how tough the separation process can be when mom or dad says goodbye to their little one.
The anxieties a child may feel at drop-off time are completely normal….and so are the parents! It’s encouraging for parents to know that there are many positive ways to say goodbye at school that will help build a child’s confidence.
Be an Early Bird. One way to ease the transition is to arrive at school 15 minutes early to give preschoolers enough time to adjust to the transition and say goodbye. Parents need to plan ahead and make sure they have enough time on the first day and even on the days that follow for a special goodbye. At drop-off time, parents should take the time to focus their attention on their child – this can help children relax and ease their anxieties about separating.
Develop a Routine. It’s important for parents to develop and maintain a consistent morning routine, including a consistent drop-off routine at school. Because young children cannot tell time and/or are learning to recall day-to-day events, their sense of security comes from predictable routines – knowing what to expect next or what will happen next gives them confidence. Something as simple as establishing a consistent routine can set children up for an easier home-to-school transition.
Talk it Out and Read Out Loud. When saying goodbye, let your child know that you’re leaving. Slipping away is not the solution and can make a child more anxious when they can’t find you. Let your child know that you are leaving and that you will be picking him/her up at a certain time. For example, you might say, “I’m going to leave in five minutes and go to work. I’ll come back and pick you up after snack time.” You can also review the classroom schedule with your child so he/she knows what to expect. You might say something like, “I know you’re sad to see me leave. I will miss you too and I’ll be back to pick you up after recess this afternoon.”
Remember, children show emotion through crying and it’s normal for them to do so. By acknowledging their emotions, parents are playing an important part of helping their children cope with separation anxiety.
In addition to talking with your child about preschool, reading with your child about preschool can be just as important. Books such as Llama, Llama Misses Mama (by Anna Dewdney), The Night Before Preschool (by Natasha Wing and Amy Wummer) and Preschool Day Hooray! (by Linda Leopold Strauss), help children understand what might happen and what to expect on their first day of school.
Editor's note: What back to preschool tips do you have? Share your tips in comments!