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You’ve enrolled at a new school! Excitement, nervousness, and anxiety towards the unknown start to kick in. Questions are filling your mind as you and your little one are headed to your first day of preschool. Stop, take a deep breath, and relax. For some, the transition to a new school is easy and takes little time at all. For others, the transition can be filled with tears and take a few weeks. Starting school can be challenging, but a few things can help make the adjustment smoother for you, your child, and the school staff.
When you arrive at school, take a moment to get settled in. Help your child find their cubby, make sure they know who their teacher is, and help them pick out something to play with. Getting your child busy and engaged in an activity that they like helps distract them as you slip out the door. Try not to worry too much if your little one becomes so focused that they forget to say bye. It just goes to show that they are already comfortable in the new environment and are having fun!
However, if you arrive and get them settled in and the tears start, the best thing to do is find a teacher to hand your child off to. As hard as it is, you have to have the strength to walk away. When you hand off to a teacher, it helps show your child that you trust the school and that it is okay to trust the teachers too. The crying and tears are typically over in five to ten minutes and then it’s smiles and giggles the rest of the day. Sticking around for one more hug after one more hug starts a never-ending cycle and prolongs the tears. It’s hard to leave your child crying, but this generally only lasts a week or two.
For younger students, potty accidents are to be expected. Things are new and exciting and convincing kids to stop what they are doing to go try is not always easy. As they start to settle in, this will pass. Students are taking frequent breaks, but accidents happen. Don’t stress, be patient, and talk with your child about using the “big potty” at home.
Don’t be afraid to check in with the school and see how your child’s day is going! Be sure to ask questions about what they have been up to so you have directed questions to ask your child when you pick them up. Asking your child “what did you do at school today” will generally get you an answer of “nothing” or “I don’t know.” Try to ask questions like, “did you have fun building with Legos” or “how did you like your sandwich at lunch.” This opens the door to long stories about their day and the fun they had.
Above all, try to be patient. The new environment, new people, new adults, new routines, and new rules are a lot to take in. Be patient with your child and with the school. The adjustment will happen. Work closely with the teachers and staff and keep an open mind. Trust the process. As the days and weeks go on, your child will settle in and find their place in a new community of learners.