Preschool and Beyond -Transitioning to Preschool
One of the most challenging aspects of starting a new school or a new classroom, can be the drop-off. While some children will adjust right away, there are many children who have a much harder time. While personality and temperament play a role in this, there are things we can do as parents to support our preschoolers. Preschool teacher Kate Curran offers tips on how to make this possible as smooth as possible.
Guest Information - Kate has taught preschool for over a decade, and is currently a lead teacher at Discovery Child Development Center in Morrisville, North Carolina.
Preparing for the First Day of School
- Discuss exciting things they can look forward to it at preschool
- Even if you are nervous, communicate to them that you are excited for them
- Have your child visit the school before hand, so they can visualize the classroom
- You can role play the school day
- If the school allows children to bring a bag or backpack, have the child pick out a special one
First Day Tips
- Be consistent, if you tell them that you will walk into the classroom and then leave, try your best to stick to that.
- Keep your body language positive. If they see that the parent looks nervous, the child is more likely to be nervous
- Have a quick drop-off routine ex. can give hug and kiss, or use a same phrase each day
- Let the child know you are leaving, it is better to have that goodbye routine rather than trying to sneak out when they are not looking
- While it can be very difficult to leave while your child is upset, lingering in the classroom can make it harder for not only your child, but can also be upsetting to other children in the class
- Try not to peek through the window or door. If you are spotted, it can make it even more challenging for your child to settle into the classroom
- Share any information with the teacher that you think might help if your child has a hard time ex. favorite song, book, or activity
- When you drop-off in the classroom, take a look at the materials that are out. You can later ask them about the art supplies, the message the teacher wrote to the class, or anything else that you notice.
- If you did not drop the child off, you can ask them about something that you know they did
- Ex. Did you enjoy your snack? Did anyone else have cheese and crackers?
- Did the teacher read any books
- What was your favorite thing you did on the playground?
How Long Will it Take?
This will really vary by child. Some children will run right in the first day, but most children will take a little longer.
- Usually by the end of the first month, most children are in a good routine
- If you are struggling to get your child to school each day, check in with the teacher to see if they are having a hard time during the day too
- Some children will continue to have a hard time before school, but as soon as the parent goes will be happy and engaged
- It can take longer if a child is only coming a few times a week
- It can also take longer if the child has never been away from mom or dad before
- See if you can send in pictures or albums of loved ones
- Read books about starting school such as The Kissing Hand, Llama Llama Misses Mama
- Communicate with Teachers
- Connect with Peers - try to set up playdates with other families in the class
- Check with the school to see if the child's schedule can be modified at all while transitioning
Going outside as a family is a great way to engage your children and explore nature. Explore your local trails, or the nature centers in your area. Below are a few of my family's favorites trails/parks to visit in the Raleigh/Durham/Cary region of North Carolina:
Cary and Morrisville Trails
Bond Park - This is a great place for families and is located in central Cary. There is a playground, picnic shelters, boat rentals, and a number of trails. The Paw Paw Trail is a great one for young children as it is the shortest loop. It also has a good amount of shade. My elementary-aged also enjoy the Pine Cone Trail, and the Lake Trail.
North Cary Park - This park has a great combination of having a fun playground and also nice walking trails. There are paved trails so it is stroller friendly.
Hemlock Bluffs - There are beautiful trails and an education center. It is a great spot for watching birds and there is a small area for young children. The Town of Cary also runs child and family nature programs there.
Lake Crabtree - This park is very close to Discovery and has two small playgrounds, and a number of trails. We love to have picnics there. Wake County also offers many programs for children and families there including a tots story hour.
-Eno River State Park - There is so much for families to explore in this 4,200 acre park. The Stir Crazy Moms' Guide to Durham gives a good over of the best spots for children.
Durham, Wake, and Chatham County - American Tobacco Trail - This trail is over 22 miles and has sections that are completely paved. The sections we have explored are flat as well.
Umstead Park (entrances in both Raleigh and Cary) - This park is filled with great trails with varying skill levels required. The Oak Rock Trail is a shorter one that many families enjoy.
Lake Johnson - There is a lot of shade on the trail and there is a large paved section that is great for both children and dogs.Connect with Preschool and Beyond