Can you believe it is already time to send your little one off to preschool for the first time? It is exciting but can also cause anxiety for you and your child. Preparing ahead of time for their first day of preschool can help you both feel ready. We recently switched daycares for our 2 youngest boys into a more preschool like environment so we had to do a lot of preparation ahead of time. We had been at the same daycare since before my middle son was born 4 1/2 years ago so this was a big change for us.
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Depending on when you find out your child will be starting preschool you will want to start talking about it with them. They need time to mentally prepare for this big life change. Even if they are just changing from one school to another, it will be a big change. Their school provides routines and consistency so mentally preparing will help ease the transition.
Getting your child involved in the Prep
Having your child help make decisions about their new school will get them more invested. As we were preparing for our transition, I let my kids pick out new lunch bags, Bentoboxs for their lunches and water bottles. Their new preschool lets you bring lunch or buy lunch so we opted for bringing it. On the first day, they were both very excited to carry their own lunch bags into school. Below are the ones they picked out.
They are also required to bring sheets to go over their nap mats so I let them pick out crib-sized sheets. My middle son chose a Toy Story one and my youngest chose a Monster’s Inc. one. Getting them involved in decisions like this helps them feel more invested and involved in the process.
Night Before Prep
The night before the first day of preschool is when you need to gather everything together so you are not hunting in the morning. Get the lunches packed, lay out clothes for the morning and all the items you need to bring.
Here is a list of the items I needed to bring on the first day:
- Extra change of clothes (2 shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of pants, sweatshirt, 2-3 pairs of underwear) (Try to bring comfortable clothes)
- Diapers, diaper rash cream, and wipes for my toddler
- Lunch bag (with lunch) and water bottle
- Filled out paperwork
- Checkbook for tuition and any extra fees
- Form filled out by pediatrician with current immunizations
- Crib-sized sheet for their nap mat
Ashley Marie has some Easy Ideas for School Lunches.
Stephanie has some great Easy Healthy Snacks that kids will love.
Here are some lunch options that I am currently using:
- Fruit- Grapes, blueberries, strawberries, banana, watermelon, cantaloupe, kiwi (the golden ones are awesome), apples, tangerines, peaches, oranges, etc.
- Veggies- Carrots, snap peas, corn kernels, edamame, celery or cucumbers
- Sandwich with meat- Ham and cheese, Turkey and cheese, Roast beef and cheese
- Peanut Butter (Or Sunbutter for nut-free) Sandwich- With jelly, bananas or honey
- Cheese square, string cheese or yogurt tube
- Crackers, pretzels, or chips
- A small sweet snack like a cookie, fruit snacks or yogurt raisins
First Day tips
On the morning of the first day try not to be rushed. Children will often feel stressed when the parent is stressed. On my boys’ first day, I let my office know I might be a little late so that I was not feeling rushed. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to handle anything administrative as well as take time to say good-byes and make sure they were settled in their class. It is important to make sure they eat a good breakfast, especially one that is nutritious and not just full of sugar. Try to keep the mood light in the morning and talk about their new school while getting ready.
As a way to get my middle son to engage more, I tasked him with learning the names of 2 children in his class. This doesn’t put any pressure on them to make new friends but gives them a goal to complete that is attainable. It will also help them be more excited because they will now remember at least 2 of the kids and they can talk about them.
Time for First Day Pick-Up
On the first day try to come a little bit earlier than you normally will. You don’t want to come too much earlier because then your child might be upset when you come a lot later another day. On the first day, you want to avoid having your child be one of the last kids to get picked up. It can be hard for kids to see parent after parent come and take their kids before they get to go home. Ask your child how their day was, what they learned and the names of 2 kids in their class. Being reflective of their day will help them process everything. Say good-bye to their teacher and remind your child that they will be coming back tomorrow. Setting the expectation of returning the next day will help because then they will realize this was not just a one-time thing.
With my older boys this year I started asking them what are 3 good things that happened that day. Before we started this they would often get in the car and start telling me all the stuff they didn’t like about their day. Now they are excited to share the good things and it helps them focus on the positive.
You did it! The first day of preschool is in the books! Congrats! It may not have been easy or without tears, but it is done. It will hopefully get better from here. For us, the second day was harder than the first but the third was easier. You will learn what works best for your child. My oldest was very shy to start a new daycare so the teacher recommended that he bring a snack from home. When he arrived, he would take his snack, sit at a table and have time to warm up to his surroundings. It worked great!
Good luck with your first day of preschool!
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