Preschool offers several benefits to your child. It provides an avenue for learning new things, social interaction with other kids, and teaches life lessons such as sharing, following rules, and respecting each other.
While it can be exciting to embark your child into a new journey, it is also frustrating because your child finds it hard to adjust to a new situation and environment. For a child, going to preschool can trigger their anxiety because of unfamiliar faces and places. For a parent, they are worried because they are unsure if their child is ready to go to preschool.
Here are 5 helpful tips to lessen a child’s separation anxiety and to full prepare them to go to preschool.
Ease Your Child’s Fears
Condition your child about how preschool would be like. Spend time talking to them about preschool and how enjoyable learning is. Gradually introduce them to some materials used in class, such as paper, crayons, pencil, coloring books, etc. Also, engaging your child to certain games or activities that often take place in the classroom is helpful so that it would not be difficult for them to adjust on the first day of class.
You may bring your child to their classroom months or weeks before the school year starts and take a tour around their school. You can also play with your child at the school playground so that they can always look forward to going to school. While you are in the classroom, let your child explore and interact with the other kids. Visiting the classroom prior to the first day of classes familiarizes the child with their surroundings and it also helps lessen their anxiety.
Remain Calm and Confident
Not only the child must be conditioned, you as a parent must also be conditioned that everything will be fine when you take your child to school. Kids can easily pick up nonverbal clues, and they will pick up your anxiety and uneasiness which leads to their separation anxiety as well. Remind yourself that preschool is beneficial for your child and this will be their opportunity to learn more, discover their skills, create new relationships, and develop his character outside their homes.
Have A Consistent Routine
Kids must know what to do next. According to a PBS article, each family must have a certain type of routine that would help the child lessen the fears of going to preschool. Have a consistent routine with your child, such as eating breakfast together, dressing them up, packing their lunch, driving them off to school, saying hello and goodbye to their teacher. Keeping this routine will help the child get used to what happens every single day in their lives.
Other ways of routines may include:
- “Special ways of saying goodbye” with certain gestures, hugs, or words
- helping your child take off his or her coat before giving a goodbye hug
- teaching your child that “goodbye” is really another way of saying, “I’ll be back later.”
Promptly Leave Your Child
Now that you helped your child relieve his anxiety during the first few days of preschool, it’s time for you to make a prompt departure. Being around more often to comfort your child makes it harder for them to say goodbye to you or it may worsen their separation anxiety. Here are some ideas on making a “good goodbye”:
- Keep your tone light, positive, and upbeat. Kids pick up their mood based on the tone of their parent’s voices and mood. Do not try to look sad or worried when you talk to your child. Say an upbeat goodbye and assure them that all will be well.
- Do not turn back. Do not attempt to return to your child if you hear them cry. It will be harder for them to adapt if you keep going back to your child and comfort them. Teachers are there to help take care of your child while you are away. Besides, they have many years of training and experience on how to handle this kind of situation.
- Do not sneak out. Leaving without saying goodbye can make your child’s separation anxiety worse. This act will make your child feel they are abandoned. Always include a loving goodbye to your child.
Involve The Preschool Teachers
Kids become the best versions of themselves when they are surrounded by their loved ones. They also gain confidence when they have friendly and warm interactions from the most important people in their lives, such as their parents and teachers. Teachers are known to be the child’s second parents, and the school is considered to be their second home. Good communication with your child’s teacher will help you share relevant information about your child so that they know how to respond to your child’s needs. After all, we all want what’s best for our child, right?
Talk to your child’s teacher about their reluctance to go to school because of separation anxiety. Preschool teachers provide different effective strategies on how to help your child adjust faster when saying goodbye to you.
Bring Along A Loving Object
A teddy bear, a doll, a picture of you and your child, and a blanket are some of the transitional objects that you can let your child bring to school. These loving objects bring comfort to your child while you are away. Make sure that it is allowed by your child’s teacher to bring to class.
Sending your child to preschool and being away from them is a challenging phase between both of you. It is important to note that every child has their own pace of overcoming separation anxiety, in which parents are required to have a lot of patience, reassurance, and consistency. With the help of Baby Steps Daycare/Preschool, your child will be able to adjust wholly to this situation and will receive quality education from experienced preschool teachers.
Baby Steps provide services such as Infant Care Facility and Universal Pre-Kindergarten. They have three different locations around New York, and should you wish to know more, you may contact them here.