By: Angy Talbot – ECFE Blog Writer
I was nervous when my daughter began preschool. I was worried that the teacher wouldn’t give her attention she needed or that she would be scared or maybe even cry. When I dropped her off that first day, she latched on so tight to me. I wasn’t sure she would ever let go. Deep down inside I wanted to stay with her; I was afraid what would happen when I left. The teacher sweetly came over to us and began to talk to my daughter, showing her a few things in the room while also introducing her to some other girls standing near by. My daughter took the teacher’s hand, tearfully giving me the opportunity to say, “Good-bye” and run out the door (wanting to carry her out the door with me). Even as I drove off, I was wondering how she was getting on and if she was scared or sad. My heart was breaking because she was on her own. Also on this day, I began my 12th year of teaching preschool. You would think with my experience that I would not have these types of feelings or concerns.
As a teacher, I have seen many children having a hard time separating from their parents those first couple of weeks or even months that they begin preschool. All of which is normal behavior. I have learned from personal and professional experience that when you drop off your child at school, it is best to say your good-byes outside the classroom door and let your child walk into the room alone. The longer you stay, the harder it is. One of the main concepts of preschool is to help your child become more independent. I remember once when my daughter cried and the teacher had to come over to us at the door to help her come into the classroom. My daughter became upset and did not want to be there. I stayed near the door, smiled at her, waved, and said, “I love you and I will pick you up after school today. Have fun!” and I left. I wanted to hold her and comfort her, but I knew no matter how difficult it was for me, I needed to leave because it was the best thing to do for her. When I drove to work, I couldn’t get the image of her sad little face out of my mind. About 20 minutes later, her teacher called to tell me my daughter was doing wonderful and was coloring with the girls at the table. Each drop off got easier, and I made sure I said my good-byes and let her go off into her new world without me. My daughter since has not cried when I dropped her off at school. She loves school and cries if she has to miss it. So parents, when your child is upset at drop off time, a teacher can help guide and console him/her if needed. But remember as you say, “good-bye” or “I’ll be back to get you after school” to leave no matter how hard it may be, and usually about five minutes after you walk out the door, they’re just fine and often having fun! Most children, after a few months of school will walk into the classroom on their own, self-reliant and confidant. I’ve heard the voice of the parent‘s saying to their child, “Aren’t you going to say goodbye?”
Below are a few suggested tips to help your child prepare for their first day of preschool:
• Drive by the school and point out, “There’s your new school!”
• Meet the teachers and have a tour of the classroom before school starts (often schools will have an Open House).
• Read stories to your child about school and separation from parents. My daughter’s favorite book was, I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas.
Other Helpful Books:
What to Expect at Preschool (What to Expect Kids) by Heidi Murkoff
Preschool Day Hooray! by Linda Leopold Strauss
Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experience by Lucy Cousins
Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
• Learn the teachers’ names and something about them to tell your child.
• Have conversations about the kinds of things they will do at preschool (playing on the playground, playing with new friends, doing art projects, playing with blocks, etc.) and ask your child if they have any questions about preschool.
• Take pictures of the school, classroom, teachers, and make a little book just for your child.
• Share with your child some fun preschool memories you have of your first day at preschool.
• Tell your child often how much fun school is!!!