Change is difficult for everyone. Whether you are starting at a new school or moving across the country, it’s natural to be apprehensive about what is ahead. Preschoolers starting school for the first time have the same fears.
From dealing with worries about using unfamiliar toilets to fears about a scary poster in a classroom, parents may need to use one or more of the following strategies to ease their little ones' fears:
Visit the school ahead of time. One of the biggest fears about school is the unfamiliar environment. If the school hosts an open house or a teacher meet-and-greet night, take this opportunity to visit the school before the first day. The event may not seem like a big deal but it can significantly reduce initial fears.
Encourage communication. Invite your child to open up about his fears. Some people find it beneficial to offer a personal example such as, “Sometimes I get nervous when I meet a new person but I try to be brave and say hello.”
Don't minimize feelings. Let your child know that you are sympathetic of his feelings. Agree that it is scary to go to a new school or ask how you can make it easier. Don't ever make a preschooler feel as though his feelings are silly or trivial.
Give children control. Instead of telling a child what to do, ask him to brainstorm solutions or present several possible options and have him pick his favorite.
Don't panic or feel bad about tears. Tears are a natural part of separation anxiety for many children. Keep the goodbye quick and then check in with the teacher via email or phone after one or two hours. Most likely your child stopped crying within a few minutes and moved on to playing with friends.
About the Author:
Lynda Way is the owner of Pacific PreSchool & Kindergarten, a one-of-a-kind child care and learning center in San Marcos, California. Lynda's goal is to provide an early education program to children so that it satisfies their physical, socio-emotional and intellectual needs in a progressive way. She makes use of her 40 years of professional knowledge in childhood development and truly loves what she does.