Tip 1: Don’t rush through the morning: No one likes to race through the school morning routine — especially on the first day. So get everyone up at a reasonable hour. That way, you won’t have to hurry your child as he munches through his morning meal — or risk being late because you had to tame your frazzled tot’s tantrum.
Tip 2: Arrive fashionably early: This way, your little one can slowly settle in before the real action starts. He’ll also get more face time with the teacher, too, which will be tougher to do once all the other kids are there to vie for her attention.
Tip 3: Bring a comfort object: Let your child bring along his favorite stuffed animal (or blanket, or whatever object does the trick) so the new setting doesn’t feel so scary. And once your teddy-toting tot feels comfortable with his surroundings, he’ll let go of his lovey — or at least leave it when he plays.
Tip 4: Put on a happy face: Anxiety may be eating you up inside, but don’t let on — nerves are highly contagious. If your tone’s upbeat and you seem confident that your child will have a good time, there’s a better chance that he’ll be upbeat, too.
Tip 5: Hang around, but don’t hover: We sometimes allow parents stay in the classroom for all or part of the first few days, so if you can swing it, stick around. Knowing that you’re within clinging distance will give your kid the courage to explore his new digs. Then, as your child feels more secure, gradually melt into the background. Your goal is to let the teacher take over so you can get on with your day.
Tip 6: Keep good-byes short and sweet: When it’s your cue to make an exit, hold back your tears a little longer (smiling helps unscrunch those furrows in your worried brow), give your new preschooler a hug, and let him know when you’ll be back (“I’ll pick you up after lunch”). Then head out — don’t linger (he can’t get on with his day until you do). And no matter how tempting, never sneak out when your preschooler is looking the other way. It’ll make him feel insecure and less trusting.
Just remember, it’s normal for kids to have a meltdown when it’s time to separate (though many don’t). But even if your child is crying a lot, chances are he’ll be fine five minutes after you walk out the door. If it’s taking a while for your little one to adjust, don’t panic — our teachers (and their assistants) have seen it all and they know just what to do, so ask his teacher for help. Just don’t be surprised if your child’s too happy to say hello to you (or talk about his day) once preschool pick up rolls around!
Note: The author is Founder-Director of Gyankriti. The views expressed here are personal.