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Easy Ways to Make Drop-Off Great on the First Day of Preschool

Aug 26 2015 - 6:51am

Parents of toddlers heading to preschool for the first time have lots on their minds — especially if their tot will be "the kid" that's a total mess at drop-off. Separation anxiety [1] can rear its ugly head at any time during your little one's preschool experience, but making the first day a good day helps set the tone for the school year to come. Understanding you aren't alone when it comes to finding solutions is key, as well as sticking with a routine. Keep reading for a few easy ways to make the first day of preschool awesome for you and your toddler.

Source: Flickr user sparklecandace [2]

Read About It

There are lots of lovely books to ease the anxiety of being away from Mom or Dad, but one of our favorites is The Kissing Hand [3] by Audrey Penn. A story that follows a young raccoon on his first day of school, this book helps with a tot's transition from being at home to heading to school.

Let Them Pick

We know you want your child to look great on her first day of school [4], but letting your tot be in charge of picking out a first-day-of-school outfit helps give her some control about the basics of her first day. It may not seem like a big thing, but letting your tot select her clothes on this special day builds self-confidence [5], setting her up for a good start.

Source: Flickr user pennuja [6]

Stick to a Routine

Make a plan for the first day of school and then stick with it. Your tot works well with routines [7], and when they are broken, things can go downhill fast. Whether it's reading a book before drop-off or a special kiss, sticking to a routine means early-morning success. Make sure to chat about the routine with your child before heading to school so she knows what to expect.

Source: Flickr user Truebritgal [8]

Don't Hover

Discuss with the preschool teacher what the recommended amount of time is for hanging out on the first day of preschool . . . and stick to it. If 10 minutes is OK, then watch the clock — and your tot — and then say goodbye. Showing your child that you feel confident about leaving her at school let's her know it is a safe place to be. It may seem like a good idea to sneak out if she's having fun, but it's best to give a quick goodbye [9] hug and a peck on the cheek before heading out.

Source: Flickr user sparklecandace [10]

Walk Away (Even If Your Child is Sad)

We all wish for happy kids at drop-off, but sometimes things don't go that way. Even if your tot is still a bit sad after you've said your goodbyes, it is still time to walk away. Unless you feel your child is a danger to herself or others, asking a teacher for help and walking away from the situation allows the teacher and your child to work through what's going on.

Source: Flickr user buildscharacter [11]

Send Your Child With Love

Tuck a little love in your lil's pocket with a sweet felt heart. Make your own with these directions [12] from Curly Birds; this way your child can pull out her soft heart and know she is loved. If you're not up for getting crafty, then pop a picture in your child's lunchbox of the entire family to keep her feeling happy during the day, or sneak a stuffed lovey in her backpack. Let the teacher know your child has a special item so that it can be accessed when needed.

Source: Curly Birds [13]

Trust the Teacher

You picked the preschool because you trusted the teachers and staff. Understand that they are professionals who love their jobs and want to work with your child, meaning they will do everything possible to comfort a little one when sad or anxious. Trust that even when you aren't there, your child is being treated with loving care and the teachers will do what is right in the situation.

Source: Flickr user La Flaf [14]

Don't Let Them See You Sad

Yes, seeing your child having a total meltdown is not fun or easy, but don't let her see that you are sad too. Kids feed off others' emotions, so when they see someone they love in distress, they often mimic the behavior. Keep a smile on your face [15] — even if your heart is breaking — give lots of reassuring hugs and kisses, and leave.

Source: Flickr user Tavallai [16]

Call and Check In

Don't fret if things didn't go as well as you'd like at drop-off; it's totally normal for things to be a bit bumpy at first. Worried your child hasn't calmed down? Ease your mind by giving the preschool a call, but try to wait at least 30 minutes before reaching for the phone. This allows just enough time for your child and teacher to get adjusted.

Source: Flickr user Ed Yourdon [17]

Be on Time

If pickup is at 12:30, then be there at 12:30! This ensures your toddler understands that Mommy and Daddy always come back and are trustworthy, building a bond that encourages healthy behavior and self-confidence in your toddler. Create a pickup routine [18], just like at drop-off, that is comforting and enjoyable. Sing a special song, snuggle in a quiet corner of the classroom, or enjoy an exciting activity once everyone is home.

Source: Flickr user Pink Sherbet Photography [19]

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