So I realized Liv was stressed out about a week ago. I didn’t think someone so small and innocent could feel stress, but I was wrong. She is transitioning from a 2 day half-day preschool/daycare program to a 5 day half-day program next week. She has been noticeably more tired, cries at school drop offs and is openly saying she’s nervous to meet new friends. This in turn breaks my heart and stresses me out. I never, ever want her to feel pain; at this age, only rainbows and unicorns. I know, I know, feeling feelings is a good thing. But I worry nonetheless.
I have tried to do some research on the subject, paired with my mom intuition, Liv’s temperament and personality and put together some talking points to help ease her nerves. Keeping it simple and not too overwhelming is key.
- Discuss what school is – most kids don’t understand the concept of school; how she’ll get to play with new toys, artwork, the physical space
- Let her know they have a potty – and that she can tell the teacher she needs to go or just go herself like she does at home.
- Dress appropriately – now is not the time for lace up shoes and challenging pants, however cute they might be. Slip ons / velcro shoes, dresses, leggings are easy for her to maneuver so when nature calls its easy and hopefully prevents accidents.
- Routines – discuss the routine she’ll be doing. Kids at this age thrive on routines so let her know what the school’s might be. Greeted by a teacher, hang up coat and bag, wash hands and say hi to some friends, sing a song.
- Friends – it can be so nervous to meet 20 or so kids for the first time all at once. Perhaps set up a play date with a few kids/parents in advance so yours will see a familiar face on day one. Hopefully the school organizes a picnic in advance like ours.
- Books – here are some of the books that were recommended to start reading a few weeks prior to the start and throughout the first few weeks/months:
- Llama Llama Misses Mama; Milk Goes to School; The Night Before Preschool; My First Day of School; Miss Nelson is Missing – all bought at Barnes & Noble
- Confidence – kids feel our energy, so don’t lead on if you’re nervous or sad. Lead with confidence and excitement and they’ll follow (eventually).
- Be on time – nothing would stress a kid out more than scrambling and entering a new classroom with all eyes on her.
- Pick out clothes the night before – do this activity with you kid, get them excited.
- Pack lunch/bag the night before – you have enough scramble work trying to get out the door yourself, don’t appear rushed or stressed so pack their bag/lunch the night before. Perhaps even get ready yourself before they wake up so you can spend some slow, quality time together in the AM.
- Saying Goodbye – every kid is different and every school’s policy is different. We have a slightly attached kid and a wonderful school policy that will let us stay as long as we need. Need to rip the cord and go to work yourself? I think the key is letter her know you’re not going away forever, you/Dad/nanny will be there to pick her up after an awesome day of playing and coloring! Our school also suggests coming up with your own unique goodbye – maybe that’s a funny dance, a secret handshake, three kisses.
- Bring a Snack – Blood sugar levels are lowest around 3pm so bring a snack when you go to pick her up. It can even be a special treat that gets her excited to get through the day (or an excuse for mom to get a doughnut too!)
How has the adjustment been for your kiddos?