Home » Tips for Getting Your Child Preschool Ready with the Learning Experience
The average woman spends approximately 22.5 minutes getting ready each morning, according to a recent Yahoo Health and Ipsos study. I don’t know about you, but I find that figure rather impressive. In addition to my jealousy, I noticed that this study doesn’t account for having a toddler/child, and we all know that little ones add time to nearly every routine.
While I may never streamline my morning routine enough to shave off the 14 minutes that push me over the national average, there are several ways to cut down the time it takes to get the little ones out of the house each morning and off to school. This is especially helpful if it is the first first day of (pre)school.
There are so many statistics out there about the benefits of early education and how the brain experiences the most rapid growth and absorption from birth to age 5, at which point as much as 90 percent of the intellectual and emotional brain wiring is set for life. However, if you experience a terrible twos meltdown of your little one on the first day of preschool, you may think twice about day two!
But, you’re not alone.
The first day of school can be tough for any child, and it’s no walk in the park for parents either. Separation anxiety, fear of the unknown and meeting new people can be very stressful, but the parents will get through it, and the children will be just fine, too.
If it helps at all, government statistics show that in the past year roughly 85 percent of the country’s 5-year-olds, 66 percent of 4-year-olds and 43 percent of 3-year-olds attend preschool. That’s likely a lot of meltdowns! Good news is that the numbers of children enrolled in preschool nationwide continue to increase, and that couldn’t happen if children and parents hadn’t been able to get to day two. There is hope!
Leading up to the “big day.”
I’m of the thinking that anything worth celebrating – birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries – deserves a countdown leading up to the “big day.” And, preschool is no exception! Start with a pep talk to get your child excited about their preschool adventure and continue this conversation daily, filling your little one(s) in on what they can expect, including teachers, new friends, fun learning games, etc. A great book to read with your child to introduce the concept of going to school is “I Am Too Absolutely Small for School” by Lauren Child.
To bring the excitement to life, take your child to his/her new preschool before school starts for a sneak peak to look around and meet the teachers. My preschool, The Learning Experience, in Chantilly / South Riding, encourages families to come visit their child’s classroom prior to their first day and we also give all families a trial day prior to their first day. Leading up to the first day of school, preferably for at least two weeks, make practice runs to the preschool to get your child accustomed to the new schedule and familiar with the school itself. This will help exponentially with the 22.5 minutes I – and perhaps you – am now striving to achieve for my morning routine!
During this time frame, if you meet a fellow classmate of your child’s, suggest a play date before school starts to get an early start on friendship. Having a friend will make that first day a lot easier! Imaginary – or as they are likely today: virtual – friends are a good option, too! At our preschool, The Learning Experience® in Chantilly /South Riding, we offer a digital connection to our students on the go or at home through BubblesU, an “edutainment” online portal complete with apps, videos, activities, music, eBooks, and much more that ties back to our curriculum and enrichment offerings. By getting to know the characters used in learning in the classroom and the school’s mascot, Bubbles the Elephant, children can have “friends” made before they walk in the door on day one.
It’s finally here!
If possible, make plans to spend part of the first morning with your child. Tears are normal and common for both child and sometimes even you, the parent, especially day one. For some children, the transition is made easier if it’s gradual. Each child is different, though, so talk with your child’s teacher(s) about any concerns regarding separation issues.
There is a fine line between being there for your child and staying too long, but that’s a judgment call that only you can make. Rest assured that often your child will stop crying shortly after you leave. Let the school be your guide on this – experienced schools have helped many children and parents through separation anxiety. I always encourage parents at The Learning Experience to call and check in with their child’s teacher at anytime. Also, to make the first day of school extra special, we send home “My First Day at The Learning Experience” certificates with all families.
Like any former Girl Scout knows, it’s best to “be prepared.” As such, it’s always a good idea to leave your child with the following items in his/her backpack:
- A full change of clothes (maybe two sets)
- Any medical information the school may need including pediatrician’s phone number and any medical issues
- A plastic, waterproof folder for teachers to use when sending home notes and important information
- A favorite blanket to help your little one adjust to the transition
- Pack a picture of yourself with your child, especially if it’ll be their first time away
As with anything, practice makes perfect. Good luck on day two!
The Learning Experience® in Chantilly / South Riding is one of the nation’s fastest growing academies of early education for children ages six weeks to six years old. With a greater national emphasis on educational development during the most crucial years of a child’s growth, The Learning Experience places a prominent focus on programs that advance scholastic preparation. The Learning Experience prepares children academically and socially via innovative scholastic and enrichment programs such as the L.E.A.P.® curriculum, a cutting-edge proprietary approach to learning which has more than 95 percent of its children graduating preschool reading at a Kindergarten level or higher. To complement the academic curriculum, The Learning Experience utilizes various enrichment programs crucial to advancing learning and overall balance, such as philanthropy, Yippee 4 Yoga™, Music 4 Me®, Movin’ N Groovin’®, manners and etiquette, and foreign language.
Judy McClimans is a mother with a 20 year career in early childhood education and is the Center Director of The Learning Experience® in Chantilly / South Riding, VA.