Preparing Your Little One For Starting Preschoolby Jo Townsend
Everyone talks about hard it is to see your baby go through those school gates on their first day of school. But their first day of nursery/preschool is pretty tough as well! For us, our little one had been home with us all the way through until she was 3 so it felt nerve-racking sending her to a place where she would have to go to on her own and we had to put our trust in strangers. Let's face it, parenthood is a whole worry-fest! But we also knew she was now ready and would enjoy all the different activities as well as making new friendships. I talked in my previous blog about picking the right place. For us, we found a great setting for our daughter to go to and once it was all secured we waited for the big day to arrive. The week prior was filled with dread; we worried she would cry and not leave us when we got to the door. Due to covid, we were unable to take her inside so that caused more worry. Thankfully, we had initially been inside when we chose the nursery so we knew what it would be like for our daughter. But I think pre-covid we would have originally taken her in then sneaked off when she was playing. So it felt in a way like we were pulling off the plaster in one go having to say farewell at the door. I spoke to friends and family who reassured us it would be fine when we got there and if it wasn't, she would soon settle in. Here are a few things we did to prepare our little one for the big day so she settled in well.
Organise a settle in session
Our child's preschool offered us two settle in sessions before she started at nursery. For us, we found this was a great way for her to go and experience preschool. Just an hour and a half, it whizzed by (for her anyway!) and she had a great time. It meant that she could just get a taster before she had to go for the official sessions the following week. Most preschools do offer this before your little one starts so do ask them if they haven't mentioned it.
Talk to them about it before the big day
We talked about preschool in the run-up to the big day. I spoke to her about the fact that she would go and play and then we would pick her up later. We wanted her to know what to expect and for her to understand we wouldn't be staying there. It made it so much easier as she realised that we would be picking her up later in the day. In fact, when I dropped her off for that first settle in session, she said 'mummy come get me soon' so she knew I was going and coming back later. Also telling her all about the fun things she would be doing there made her more excited to go.
Get her new bags/drink/lunchbag
Make it more exciting for them by getting them new belongings to take with them. She was so excited to use her new bag from her birthday and use her new drink bottle. Telling her they were for preschool made the process a lot more exciting.
Use books and TV
There is no doubt Peppa Pig is annoying, but it's useful for helping them to understand certain situations. As all parents will know, Peppa and George go to a nursery run by Madame Gazelle and I kept telling our daughter she would do the same to make her more excited. There are also lots of books out there about starting nursery.
Keep your feelings intact
It's so hard when you are feeling emotional about them starting their new chapter. But I think it's so important you do keep your feelings intact. Try not to show you are nervous about them going; you want them to feel excited so make sure that you are happy and positive (as much as you can anyway). Then you can have a cry after they have gone to bed if they need to! I definitely had a little cry in the car on the way home after dropping her off for the first settle in session.
And to reassure parents dropping their kids off at preschool or nursery for the first time, our little girl went in fine! Now to start worrying about her starting school next year!