The Drop Off: How to Help Your Child Start Preschool

It's the moment every parent is nervous for — dropping their child off at preschool for the first time. While many children handle the separation perfectly well, every parent is understandably worried that their child will not. After all, for many kids, this may be their very first time away from their family. It may not be for very long, but that's still significant, especially for more sensitive and dependent children. However, you don't have to just sit in concerned wait to see how your child copes. Here's how you can help encourage a positive reaction instead of a negative one.

Wear a Poker Face

It's natural for you to be nervous and uncertain. Your child's wellbeing is extremely important to you. However, don't forget that your reactions and responses are absolutely everything to your child. All they know about preschool comes from you — so if you act like it's a big deal, and start speaking to them as though they might not like it, then they're much more likely to have an adverse reaction to it. Instead, speak about it as something exciting.

Be Honest

Okay, this may seem to slightly contradict the last suggestion, but it doesn't have to. You mustn't act nervous, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't tell your child what's coming up. Let them know that they'll be going to play with the other children while you go off and do boring grown-up things. So long as this sounds like this is a positive thing in your eyes, there's a strong chance that your child will adopt that same positivity. Of course, it's also far better than keeping the secret of your upcoming absence until the moment you're leaving.

Make Suggestions

Children often really benefit from structure. Some preschools will have full schedules so that there's never a moment for your child to feel uncertain. Others will be more 'free-play' based, allowing your child to decide for themselves how they'd like to spend their time. There are advantages to each — but if your preschool does the latter, then there's no harm in giving your child a few suggestions to start them off. This doesn't have to be in a direct way. As you're approaching the preschool for the first time, you can ask them whether they're looking forward to story time, or playing with building blocks — anything they're usually fond of. This may help them to feel less daunted by the many options as they first arrive.

Naturally, every child is different, and there's no way of forcing any particular reaction. If your child is quite nervous, it's an unfortunate truth that they may be anxious no matter what you do. However, do remember that this anxiety is likely to be short-lived. Preschool is fun, and they'll learn that soon enough — even if they haven't from the first second they arrive.