Starting preschool is an exciting milestone for your child, filled with lots of changes and transitions, including that first goodbye.
Saying goodbye isn’t easy, especially on the first days of preschool. The key is to make these positive goodbyes that reassure and encourage your child to experience a new, fun place to learn. Here are some tips to help with the transition:
Before the first day of preschool, prepare your child for the new experience. Have your child visit the school. Talk about the school and how the day will go. Read books or articles about preschool and saying goodbye.
Plan to stay for a bit, especially the first day. Walk around the room with your child, meet other kids, and play with some of the toys to help your child become comfortable with this new situation.
Be cheerful and upbeat. Your child will know by the sound of your voice if you’re worried or upset. Smile, laugh, and assure your child that you’ll be back soon.
Create a goodbye routine. Give your child a kiss to “hold” onto while you’re away, sing a special song together, or give an extra big bear hug.
Leave a favorite object behind. Ask the school if your child can bring along his favorite stuffed animal, toy, or blanket to help ease the transition from home to school and to keep your child from feeling lonely throughout the day.
Hold back from the “rescue.” Once you leave the room, try not to look back, even if you hear your child crying. Experienced caregivers know how to properly care for your child, and if you run back, your child will feel they need to be by your side. This will likely make it harder for your child to transition to school. Typically, children recover quickly after a parent or caregiver has left. However, if you need some reassurance that your child is well, wait for a few minutes outside the room, or call the preschool later in the morning to check in.
Reading books about preschool, especially stories about other kids’ emotions and experiences, can help you and your child talk and prepare for the big day.
Book examples: The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing, Rosie Goes to Preschool by Karen Katz, and My Preschool by Anne Rockwell