transition to preschool - Boston Moms Blog

You’ve spent time touring preschools and have found the perfect fit for your family. But your anxiety is building. It’s a new environment, and you’re unsure about how your child will handle the transition to preschool. Heck, you don’t even know how you’ll handle it.

We have four helpful tips to set you up for success and put your mind at ease.

1. Prepare your child for the transition to preschool

Hannah Riddle de Rojas, cofounder of Solbe Learning in Chestnut Hill, recommends talking with children about starting school.

“Talking through upcoming changes in routines is particularly helpful,” she says. “For example, a parent might say to a child, ‘On the days you go to school, you will wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and then we’ll go to school. When we get there, we’ll say hello to your teacher, I’ll give you a hug, and you’ll go and play with your friends.’ Children thrive on routine. It helps set clear expectations and helps them feel safe.”

Pine Village Spanish Immersion Preschool has ten locations throughout Greater Boston, serving close to 500 families every year. They’re experts in helping both parents and children feel comfortable with their new environments.

Cofounder Emma LaVecchia says, “Making time for a one-hour visit to your new school is always a great idea when introducing preschool for the first time. This will allow for some time to become acquainted with the teacher and classroom, and maybe even connect with some new friends.”

She also recommends going shopping with your child to pick out a backpack, lunchbox, and other items you’ll need. “Making sure your child is a part of the decision and planning to go to school is an important emotional connection for every preschooler. Assuring they have some power over the decisions that are made around starting school will help them to feel in control of their environment and their world, which will inevitably transfer to their sense of confidence and ownership of a new start.”

2. Create a routine

Develop a goodbye routine, and practice it in advance of your little one’s transition to preschool. Provide a concrete time frame for your departure. Preschoolers haven’t grasped the concept of time yet, so saying you’ll stay for one puzzle is more meaningful than saying you’ll stay for five minutes. Your routine may include a secret handshake, a set number of hugs and kisses, or a story once arriving at school. Whatever you decide to do, be consistent.

“Consistency is key to success. Make sure you talk to your preschooler in advance about the goodbye routine,” LaVecchia says.

3. Stick to the plan

Your little one is a smart cookie. Once you deviate from the plan, they’ll attempt to get you to deviate from it daily, making drop-offs harder and harder.

LaVecchia advises, “Stick to the plan no matter how hard it may be. It’s important that parents stay consistent, upbeat, and confident regardless of your child’s reaction. Your new preschooler needs to know that you are completely confident in this decision and that you know they are going to have a wonderful time.”

4. Resist the rescue

This is no doubt the hardest part: Your child is standing there, crying, begging you to stay. But, “resist the rescue,” LaVecchia says. “This only feeds your child’s fear of the unknown. Trust that their new teachers will be able to comfort, calm, and care for your most precious gift.”

Riddle de Rojas adds, “It can be challenging to leave your little one crying in the arms of another but rest assured! Early educators use techniques to help children calm down quickly, and we teach them that mom and dad always come back. The best thing you can do for your child is to calmly tell them how much you love them, and that you will see them later. The more stressed you feel, the more stressful it will be for your child.”

The bottom line

Finding a preschool that meets your needs is just the first step. Knowing what to expect and following the advice of these seasoned directors can help make the transition to preschool as smooth as possible for both you and your little one.

Stacey Grumet is the founder and CEO of Paper Pinecone, the most comprehensive preschool and childcare directory available. A Northeastern alum and Headline News contributor, she lives with her precocious (almost) 4-year-old daughter and her perfectly adequate husband.

4 Tips to Make the Transition to Preschool Easier _ Boston Moms Blog