If you are anything like I was, you were feeling a bit daunted by the prospect of your child/children beginning preschool for the first time. Now that your little ones have likely experienced their first day by now, you should have everything figured out, right? Not necessarily! Here are a few things that I learned along the way (sometimes the hard way) as my kids and I began this cool new stage in their lives.
- Dealing with PDH (Preschool Drop-off Hysteria). Your kids have full tummies and a great night sleep behind them. They have donned their favorite clothes and are looking fly. Everybody’s happy in the car on the way to school and Mama, you sashay into that school with a big grin on your face because you are going to the gym for the first time in over two years! Suddenly, as you approach the classroom, you notice a change: your previously jolly child has morphed into a red-faced, wailing leech who has attached himself to you with never before seen freakish strength. You may be inclined to scoop your tyke up and hold him until he is miraculously transformed into that Perfect Preschool Kid who gleefully skips into the classroom. Please, please, please do not give into your instincts! Peel your child off your leg. Hand him over to his teacher with a quick kiss and promise to come back in a few hours. Prolonging your departure will typically NOT make your child any less distraught and will VERY likely result in full-blown PDH. Katie Hurley has written a terrific article on the topic of preschoolers and separation anxiety. She suggests a “goodbye ritual,” such as developing your own handshake or hug/kiss/high-five combo. http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2015/09/helping-preschoolers-cope-separation-anxiety/. I totally love this, knowing how much little ones find comfort in routines. It also gives parents and kids the opportunity to share something together that is special and exclusive to just them.
- Give your child’s teacher the lowdown early on. Is your child dealing with insomnia? Family stressors? Did your newly potty trained, undiapered child not do her count-on-it-like-clockwork morning poopy? This week, I explained in great deal to my children’s teachers their phobia of tiny school potties. I have been known to covertly hustle my children into the back of my van to use their portable potties when perfectly acceptable bathrooms with pint-size potties are available. Needless to say, I felt compelled to give our teachers my blessing to handle potty emergencies as they see fit. Logic tells me not to make special trips to the school just so my children can relieve themselves in my van.
- Invite “full disclosure” when it comes to teacher/parent communication. If you REALLY want to help your kid maximize his preschool experience, you gotta know what is happening when you are not around. How does your child interact with other kids and are there any concerns your teachers have about your child? Is there anything you can do at home to help your child in problem areas? If you have a true partnership with the teachers, you can work together to help your child grow and flourish!
What have YOU learned along the way to make your child’s easing in to preschool experience go more smoothly? Check back on Monday for more tips!