Preschool Made Easy
some tot tips from local teachers
I realize that I am taking the risk of sounding like a psychopath in writing this, but what the heck, here goes … I visited 12 preschool facilities last year in the hunt to find the “perfect” place for my 3-year-old, Hope, to learn, play, and grow. I don’t know whether it is the teacher in me or the selfish mom that doesn’t want to give up precious moments, but either way, the time has come and off she goes.
Preschool can be easy. It really is a fun place for your tot to branch out, and man, that tackle hug when you pick them up is worth about a billion bucks. Nancy Hanson and Phyllis Meier have been co-directing St. John’s Christian Preschool for the last nine years, and they lent some great advice on how to ease the anxieties of children and their parents, and how to know when your child is ready for a more structured learning environment.
First of all, let’s think about the child. Sometimes parents drop off their little one and when they come to pick them up, they don’t want to go home. Other times, parents can’t quite get their darling to enter the room. Most kids don’t have too much trouble, but the best thing, according to Meier, that a parent can do is “create a ritual.” Have two or three things that you do consistently prior to leaving. She suggests calling something out like, “Here’s your off-to-preschool kiss.”
You could also try washing up and brushing teeth every time prior to leaving. Children find security in knowing what comes next. Doing this will help your child focus and ready them for the next step. Once they are in the car, Meier says, you can help them by asking what they plan to do first once they are at school. Hanson adds that, “Talking too much makes kids’ nervous. It just depends on the child and as a parent you know.”
Secondly, as your child is making this transition – pay attention. Meier informs that, “Many parents find reassurance in talking to other parents. Ask questions about what the day is like and ask your child about their time there when you pick them up.” It can be pretty unsettling if your child has trouble going back after a few times, but Hanson says to remind your child, “Honey, you are expected at school and Mrs. Hanson is waiting for you.” Hanson also shared with me that a parent has to be aware that at times their child may just be tired. However, if they are showing disinterest or signs of anxiety, try letting them bring a security item to school, and if it continues, maybe something has happened and it’s time to talk to the teacher.
My final point deals with those of you that aren’t quite sure little Henry/Henrietta is ready and haven’t yet taken the preschool leap. Knowing when your child is ready for preschool is simple. Meier says, “If your child enjoys playing and being around other children, they are ready. Even if you don’t know how your child would do when you are away you have to try. It becomes very clear when they are not ready and often times you can pull them out for a year, and when they come back the following year everything is great.”
In the end, as I proudly watch my little girl trudge up the steps to her classroom, counting every one, I know that everything is right in her world, making everything right in mine.
To Keep Your Preschooler Happy
1. Look for something familiar on the way there and mention it.
2. Hug at the door as you leave the house.
3. Ask what they plan to do first when they get to class.
4. Have them pick out their clothes the night before.
5. Hit the bathroom before leaving and be sure their tummy is full.
6. Get them to bed at a decent time.