The day that you have been anticipating, yet selfishly dreading for the past three years is finally here — your child is about to start their first day of preschool. This is the first of many major milestones in your child's journey from toddler to full-fledged "big kid" with a school schedule, friends outside your social circles, and class pictures. Preparing for preschool is one of the great adventures in life.
Once your child starts their preschool program, they will be able to expand their social and language skills through play based activities with other young children of the same age.
It's easy to get caught up in all of the emotions surrounding such a momentous occasion (I'm going through this right now as I prepare my oldest child to start preschool in the fall), but you have to look past the chaos of the moment and remain focused. Your child is growing up, whether you like it or not! So, now, you have to do everything you can to make the most of this. You'll get through this with focus, resolve, and tissues - tons and tons of tissues.
Below we have mapped out everything you need to do before your son or daughter goes off for their first day of school. From the weeks leading up to the start of school to the moment you say goodbye as your little preschooler runs off to learn and play, we've got you covered.
My daughter starts her first year of preschool this fall, and over the past few weeks and months, my wife and I have been running around like crazy making sure that every form has been filled out and returned, all supplies have been purchased, and that we've talked to our daughter about the exciting things she's about to experience in a few weeks.
It has been crazy but it's necessary. There are so many things you need to do prior to your child starting school, so it's best to get them out of the way in the beginning so that the last few weeks of summer aren't a mad dash.
Your preschool should have sent you a packet of medical forms that needed to be finished ahead of time, and in that packet should have been a list of vaccinations that your child will need to get before they can start school in the fall. This should be one of the first — if not the first — things you do to get your child ready for school.
Your child will probably need to have a physical before they start school (if they haven't already), so go ahead and get that the same day as their shots.
If your child has any medical conditions, it's advised to contact the school and let them know ahead of time just in case you need to leave any medications and notes with the teacher.
In addition to a list of vaccinations, physicals, and other information, your child should have been provided with a list of school supplies that they will need for preschool. My daughter's list included a tote bag, crayons, paper, safety scissors, and multiple other items that made this whole "starting preschool thing" feel much more real.
Once you have all of the supplies, go ahead and put them in the tote bag with anything else you'll need for school and put it in a secure location for safekeeping before school.
But most of all, sit down and talk to your child about starting school. You'll need to remember that this is the first major change your child will go through in their young lives. It might be difficult for them to express themselves at such a young age, so make sure to pay attention to shifts in behavior and other forms of nonverbal communication.
Try to reinforce the idea that this is the start of a great adventure, one that will set them on a path of learning, growth, and most of all, fun. Tell them how much fun school will be!
The night before the first day of school will probably be hectic, but try not to let yourself or your child get wrapped up in all of the chaos. You'll want to focus on making your child happy and comfortable before their big day. The best way to do that is to find things that they love and do that.
Make this night special for them. Incorporate your child's favorite foods, books, games, and other activities in your plans for the evening, and make it the best night possible.
It is of the upmost importance that you child gets the plenty of sleep the night before the first day of school. Follow the same nighttime routine you normally do (unless there is no routine), and try not to overstimulate them with thoughts of school and change.
End the night by reading your child's favorite book and lay down with them. Ease them to sleep and allow them to get an ample amount of sleep.
This is the part I'm anticipating but dreading the most of all. Knowing that this will be the last time my daughter will go to bed not being a preschool, is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I know it has to happen but it's tough because in the back of my mind, I want her to stay young and innocent forever.
Once your child goes to sleep and you get over your mild panic attack, it's time to get to business.
Make sure their bag is packed (kudos if you did this ahead of time) and have their outfit ready to go. If your child is going to preschool for a full day, make sure they have a lunch packed and ready to go. If that's the case, make it something special, something that really drives home the excited of the first day of school.
Get some rest after that because you're going to need it.
By the time you and your child wake up, it will only be a few hours before they are no longer the little toddler running around your house making messes, they'll be a full-fledged preschooler, a "big kid," you could say.
Start the day off right for your kid and have their favorite breakfast ready when they wake up. Once you make the eggs, pancakes, smoothies, or whatever else you son or daughter wants, sit down and eat with them and talk about the day. Ask them how they feel about school — Are they excited? Are they nervous?
Now, this is where it's going to get hard. I imagine dropping off my daughter will similar to when my parents first dropped me off years ago; But this time, I'll be on the other side.
Your child might be scared about going to school, so be prepared to guide them through it. Be supportive, reassuring, and gentle with your approach and let them know that this is the start of something big and that before they know it, they'll love everything about their new environment.
When it's time to leave your new little preschooler with their teacher, try and make the goodbye as calm and gentle as possible. Be strong, there might be tears and screams and a few kicks, but be strong!
Feel free to look back and watch your child as they begin to mingle with their classmates, but don't run back to rescue them if they are throwing a tantrum.
Remember to be strong. Your kid is now a preschooler.