7 Ways to Feel Confident Leaving Your Child at Preschool for the First Time
The beginning of the preschool year is quickly coming upon us, which means that everywhere, parents just like you are starting to feel butterflies about leaving their little one at preschool for the first time.
This is completely understandable and expected – just ask any parent with children older than your own.
You will get used to these butterflies of anticipation as your child grows up: starting big school, going on camp for the first time, their first relationship, leaving for college. But for now, let’s discuss what you can do to feel more confident about leaving your child at preschool for the first time.
- Read everything your preschool has on offer
Read all the literature the preschool has on offer including the preschool’s policies, philosophy and beliefs, so that you are aware how the staff will handle situations.
Do these line up with your own? If they don’t that could be a sign of a potential future problem.
You need to be comfortable with what you are reading and confident in the approach the preschool will take to various scenarios. It has to be the right preschool for you and your child, so if you have any misgivings at all – at any stage, but especially before you start – you should raise these with the preschool.
- Take the time to meet the staff
Please meet the staff at the preschool you have selected before the first day. This makes it smoother for everyone involved. So much of your confidence about leaving your child at preschool will come down to how you feel about the staff on a personal level. You aren’t going to feel confident leaving your child for the first day if you have never met the people to whom you are entrusting your child’s care.
Try and find out who will be primarily responsible for your child’s care and speak to this person directly. Preschools should be happy to facilitate this for you.
- Your second child is not your first child
If it’s your second child who is ready to start preschool then sometimes it’s a little easier, as you already know the staff and the lay of the land, as well as the center’s routines and policies.
Please remember, however, that each of your children has their own personality. The center or staff that your first child gelled with may not be the same for your second child. It’s ok if you think choosing another preschool would be more appropriate for your other children. This is not personal – everyone involved should want the best for your child.
- Talk to parents already involved with the preschool
You may know someone who has sent their child there previously – this is reassurance for you. Gather intelligence by asking around parents’ groups and friends of friends. Ask questions like:
- What did you like about the preschool?
- How quickly did your child settle in?
- How were the staff?
- Would you recommend it? Why / why not?
- Discuss any concerns you have with staff
Tell staff what you are anxious about – talking always helps and your child starting preschool is no exception.
I’ve had parents say that they cannot even leave their child with their grandparents, or that they are concerned about leaving their child because of their medical condition. I really appreciate when parents raise concerns before their child starts preschool, so their nerves are not projected onto their children.
- Prepare Properly
There are a number of practical steps you can take to prepare your child for their first day, beyond merely ensuring that they have the right backpack, hat and lunch box. Routine is the most important thing; ensuring that they are used to going to bed and getting up at consistent times, as well as familiar with the routine they can expect once they start preschool.
If your child is handling the routine well before they start, then you can be confident that their transition will be smoother and happier.
- Trust your gut
This is both the simplest and hardest part of this process – and also the most important. So much of parenting is about gut feel and preschool is no exception. If you have good vibes, then you will know instinctively that this is the right preschool for you and your child. This will make sure that not only the first day, but the whole preschool journey, can be approached with confidence – by you and by your child.