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My daughter has a December birthday and when I signed her up for preschool, I neglected to check when she would be eligible for TK or Kindergarten. Well, that move ended up meaning an additional year of preschool. Looking back, I probably sent her too early since she cried for almost the entire first year (a whole lot in the beginning and then a few minutes when I was dropping her off). Even though her teachers assured me she was fine and stopped crying by the time I made it to my car, I would often times get in the car and cry myself. I felt awful that she was so upset.
The plus side is that after preparing for two years of preschool and one year of pre-K, I have come up with a good list of preschool items to help with the transition.
- Books: The Kissing Hand and The Invisible String are two of our favorite books. Both books address separation anxiety in the sweetest way. There is something about learning through books and stories that leaves a far better impression on my daughter than any pep talk that I deliver. Click on the links below to check them out.
- Clothes: We make a big deal about our daughter picking out her own first day of school outfit. My little trick is that I let her pick out two outfits and then I will save the one she likes more for the second day. That way if anxiety creeps in, she still will have something to be excited for on the next day. If your little wears a uniform, you still can make it fun by picking out shoes, underwear, whatever! This year one of her outfits come from her grandma’s Etsy shop. Click here to check out her adorable shop!
- Accessories: As I said, our first year was a little tough. And while Miss L wanted to take stuffed animals as a security blanket, it wouldn’t have worked well in the classroom. Instead, she would often accessorize with scarves because they felt like a lovey and it made her feel a little more secure. Check out this gorgeous cashmere scarf from WormeWoole, another great Etsy shop! Isn’t it the prettiest? It is the perfect addition to any child’s wardrobe! Miss L loves the rainbow colors and it is so very soft. She’s a girl after my own heart when it comes to accessorizing. This will be her go-to scarf when it gets colder (but being that she tried to wear one when it was 100 degrees out, probably sooner!). Sara Orme, the owner of WormeWoole, is offering a 15% discount at her shop with the code BACKTOSCHOOL. Check out her site here. Go get this amazing scarf here.
- A picture: Last year we sent along a picture of our family to school to comfort her when she missed us. We chose a picture where we were making silly faces and holding her brother upside down. It made her laugh when she was sad, which was our goal! I am sure we will do the same this year!
- Spend some time at the preschool before school begins. A lot of preschools have summer session. Either signing them up for a session to help with the transition or to drop in for a little bit here and there with mom/dad in hand definitely helps. Check to see if your school offers either.
- Words/lingering: I wouldn’t say ‘bye’ as that would make her upset. I would say, “See you soon, have fun!” and we would do “kissing hand” and I would leave. Even if she was crying, I found the teachers would be able to calm her down much faster if I wasn’t there. Don’t get me wrong, it was so ridiculously hard to see my child cry and not stay behind to comfort her. The walk to my car was the longest and once I was inside I would burst into tears myself. The school would send me pictures of her to show me she was okay. It made me feel so much better to see her sweet smiling face.
- Listen to your gut: Based on how many months she cried (even if it was for a few minutes) I probably should have explored other schools/programs (nothing against the school or teachers). I had this nagging voice that told me to try a more play-based program. It may not have made a difference, but I would have felt better about my final decision knowing that I tried.
- Make it fun! We decorated with some fun finds at the Target Dollar Spot. We also make a big deal out of breakfast on the first day. I set up a fun and bright breakfast table to surprise her that morning. I also fill her up with lots of healthy proteins and carbs to fuel her through the day.
Please feel free to share any tips for preschool that I missed in the comments below!