All summer long you've prepped your child for the big day -- the first day of preschool. You and your preschooler have taken a tour, ridden the bus, read some books all about preschool and even set up a few playdates with some of the children who will be in the class. Now, as the countdown clock ticks down and the first day of preschool is nearly here, there are some final steps you can take the night before to help make sure your little one is truly ready.
Talk it Out
What you do the night before the first day can help set the tone. Whether she's feeling nervous or not about the first day of preschool, it's a good idea to talk to your child and get a read on what she's thinking. It's possible that she's feeling completely happy about the situation and isn't at all worried. Or, she may be a little bit scared but doesn't want to tell you. You don't have to turn it into the second inquisition, but it is OK to probe a little bit to make sure she's ready. Draw on your own experiences with preschool -- kids this age love to hear stories about their parents and their youth, so talk about what you remember -- what did you play with? Did you eat lunch? Did you make friends?
Talk to your preschooler about what is going to happen and about what their expectations are for the day. Do they think you are going to stay? Who do they want to bring them to school? These are important questions that needed to be worked out. If your child has an idea in his head of how the day is going to go, but reality is different, there could be a problem.
Do Some Prep Work
Spend some time packing a backpack if your child has one. You can put in a photo of yourself or other family members if you think that might help. If the school allows it, it’s OK to pack in a special lovey toy that’s important to your child, but double-check the school’s policy.
Together, pick out a special outfit and really listen to what your child wants to wear. It might not be possible to let him wear his Superman cape, but you could compromise and let him wear his Superman t-shirt, saving the cape for when he gets home.
Talk about what she’ll do in the morning before school in terms of wake up time, what she wants for breakfast, when she’ll brush her teeth, etc. Setting a routine will appeal to your preschooler’s sense of habit and will make her feel more comfortable. Make sure you get up early enough to allow enough time for everything on your to-do list. If you are rushing around, it will only increase your child’s anxiety level.
Get a Good Night's Rest
Or at least your child should. Follow his bedtime routine (hopefully it's something you've been doing for a while now), or at the very least, try to get him to bed early, after a relaxing bath and bedtime story. Keep the mood calm and laid back and try to avoid anything that's likely to rile your child up. Serve up a healthy snack and spend the evening doing things your child enjoys -- maybe a family board game or a walk around the block if the weather is nice enough.
Take a Look At Yourself
How do you feel about your little one heading off to preschool? Whether you realize it or not, your child is very adept at reading your moods. If you are sad or have anxiety about the first day of preschool, it's likely that your child will pick up on it and transfer those feelings to herself. Do your best to stay positive and set a happy, excited tone for the day. Sure, it's a bittersweet moment, but your child is growing up and this is just one of a series of important milestones. Be proud and supportive and enjoy the first step on this sure to be successful academic journey.