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Habitot Children's Museum

Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111

Parenting Q&A
Parenting Question of the Month My child is starting preschool in the fall.
What can I do to ease her transition (and mine)?

Parenting Q&A Starting preschool is a big and exciting change in a child’s life -- and in yours. Parents and children alike may have mixed emotions about this transition. Children can be eager or anxious, or both! You may feel proud that your child has grown independent and is moving into the next stage of life and sad about the end of the toddler years. The unknowns of what preschool will be like and whether your child will be happy and successful there are in the back of everyone’s mind.

There are many ways to help prepare your child for preschool and you’ve probably been doing a lot of them already. Reading to your child every day, talking about everyday things, exploring nature, singing songs together, making art, and showing your own curiosity about the world are crucial to your child’s success in school. As the first day of school approaches, however, it’s time for you to focus on helping her get emotionally ready for this next step.

Here are some steps that can support your child through this transition:

    • Visit the school if you can. Or if not, walk along the sidewalk, look through the windows, gate or fence. Visit as often as your child seems interested. Talk about what you see. The idea of preschool can be a little difficult to comprehend for a child who has never been in a classroom. If you can’t visit, describe the parts of a preschool classroom. Show pictures or possibly check out a library book about going to preschool. Talk about how a preschool is different from your home. Answer questions about where you go to the bathroom and where you eat lunch. If allowed, arrange to meet his teacher before school starts.
    • Get on a regular morning schedule. Summer is great for lazy mornings, but if you don’t have a regular morning routine, getting out the door at a precise time every day can be a jolt for everyone. Begin setting your alarm and start waking up at the same time everyday, get your child dressed, have breakfast and be ready to start the day about the time you would leave for school. No sense adding to school anxiety with the stress of rushing out the door.
    • Pretend play! Set up a mini classroom at home. Use stuffed animals and dolls for the other children. Act out making new friends, working on projects, joining circle time, playing outside, eating lunch with other children, taking a nap, and getting picked up by mom, dad or babysitter.
    • Give choices. Let your child make choices about a backpack, lunch bag, lunch food and clothes. This can help your child feel more confident and in control. It also increases independence skills!
    • Talk about feelings. Listen carefully to your child’s thoughts and ideas about school. Respond honestly and lovingly about any fears or anxieties your child may be having and don’t deny them. It’s fine to say, “yes, going to preschool can seem a little scary.” Do not oversell the experience by saying, “you’ll have a good time, it will be fun” when in fact it might not turn out that way. If you can remember your own experience being positive, you can share that, but if you have your own feelings or anxiety, keep them to yourself. This is especially important if you didn’t have the best experiences in school. Let your child have a fresh start.
    • Maintain a positive attitude. Your child will be greatly influenced by the feelings you show. Above all, communicate how proud you are that your child is grown up and going to preschool. Express confidence that your child will succeed in school. Share your enthusiasm about all your child is going to learn and do.

Above all, be patient with yourself as you both adjust to this transition. You’ll be amazed at how well you’ll adapt in just a few weeks’ time!

Parenting Resources

Clark, Eliza. Preparing for Preschool. 2011. The Savvy Source Web Site: http://www.savvysource.com/savvyparent/bs_ad_133_11472_preparing-for-preschool

Getting School Ready! 2009. Getting School Ready Web Site: http://www.gettingschoolready.org/

Talking to Your Child's Preschool Teacher. 2010. KidsHealth Web Site. http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/learning/talk_to_preschool_teacher.html#

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