First Day at Preschool
Starting preschool is a big step for any child and their parents. After spending every moment with each other for the past 24-36 months, a child becomes entirely dependent on its parents. And for us parents, it’s difficult to send them off to another person’s care. However, this is the same for everyone, so if you and your little one are experiencing first-day jitters, we can help keep the emotions in check.
At The Muswell Hill Preschool, we understand that starting preschool is a big step towards your child’s growth and independence, so to make sure this step is a successful one, we’ve put together some tips to help.
What age do children start preschool?
This is a very common question that parents ask and there’s no set age for children to start preschool, but generally speaking, children start preschool between the ages of two and three.
By two or three years old, your toddler will start to develop feelings, put together simple sentences and enjoy playing. So where better for your child to spend the day than at preschool, where they can meet children of similar ages and get to grips with new activities and a routine?
Visit the preschool with your child
Take your child with you to visit their new potential preschool. When you visit, pay attention to the teachers and other children to see how they communicate with your child. Let your child wander the classroom and see how they engage with the new toys and activities around them. Spend some time speaking with the teacher, ask about the learning programme and what your child can expect when attending their preschool.
The teacher will be able to explain more about the activities your child will get involved in, which could be art, science and discovery, literacy, mathematics and sports, for example. This is a great opportunity to start familiarising your child with some of these activities at home, so that starting preschool doesn’t feel completely alien to them.
Pack a transitional object
Similar to how adults grow attached to family heirlooms, children in the early years tend to have an affection for their favourite blanket or toy. Child development experts name these comfort blankets or toys, ‘transitional objects’, which means they can assist your child when transitioning from the familiar to the unfamiliar – in this case, from home to preschool.
A child’s dependence on their favourite object gives them the emotional support they need to grow in independence – a perfect way to help them adjust to starting preschool.
Get your child used to a routine prior to starting preschool
As mentioned earlier, after speaking with your child’s new preschool teacher, try to mimic a similar routine or get your child used to some of the activities they will be participating in at preschool.
If the preschool is particularly focused on literacy and art, block time out on the weekdays to read to/with your child and provide them with the tools they need to express their creativity.
By the time your child is two years old, it’s likely that they will be able to speak more than 50 words and put together very short sentences. By the time your child is three years old, their vocabulary is likely to extend beyond 200 words and put together longer sentences. It’s these early years where your child will rapidly absorb all of the information around them.
Ask your child how they feel about starting preschool
Although your child might not be a whizz with words between the ages of two and three, it’s likely that they will be able to give you a good indication of how they feel about starting preschool. Ask them if they can remember visiting the preschool, what they liked about it, what toys they want to play with and if they’re excited to make friends.
Look out for non-verbal cues, it might be that your child goes quiet or turns away. If this is the case, reassure them that they will be fine, that you’ll be there at the end of the day to pick them up and that they can take their favourite toy or blanket with them for comfort.
Keep goodbyes short
Starting preschool is a difficult time for both children and parents but repetition is key. On average, it takes a child between two and four weeks for them to settle in at preschool, so continue to be positive and talk openly about preschool and it will soon become a fun place where they will thrive.
On their first day, bring your child confidently into the classroom and try to keep smiling even as you leave so that your child doesn’t see this as an upsetting moment. Don’t linger too long when dropping your child off, as it can make your child feel increasingly anxious.
Give your child a big hug goodbye or a secret handshake, and make this a routine each day to keep them feeling positive about the day ahead. Once you’ve said your goodbyes, let them know that you will be coming back for them later on and repeat each time you drop them off at preschool.
Repetition is key for child development and practice makes perfect. This is certainly true when it comes to getting your child used to preschool. The more frequently they attend, the more familiar they will be with the routine and the more they will be able to enjoy themselves.
Connect with The Muswell Hill Preschool
At The Muswell Hill Preschool, we have a passion for excellence and childcare innovation. We take pride in building strong foundations so that your children get the very best start to their educational journey. Offering a wide range of activities including performing arts, sports, dance and yoga, literacy and much more!