Getting your child ready for preschool is no easy task. Ask any parent and they would tell you, in most cases, they are as scared and confused as their little prince/princess starting off to experience organised learning.
For most children, by the time they are two and a half years old or three, have spent a reasonable amount of time away from the parents. It could be a grandparent, close family, a nanny or a baby sitter. Some take it well, while some do not. Separation anxiety is a normal phase in the development of the child and the good news is that over a period, they learn to be accustomed to the separation.
Kids who have been cared for by a person other than the parent are better prepared for preschool. They can better adjust to the environment of a preschool with virtually strangers when they have been exposed to the experience of being away from their parents.
While that may be the ideal situation, not all kids have had the opportunity to spend time away from their parents. If so, the best way to ease them into being away is by introducing separation to them in small doses, so that the child is not overwhelmed. They can be left with the person taking care of them for short periods of time. Even some preschools allow you to do that. The child can be dropped off for an hour or so till they are ready to take on a full day.
These are a few more tips to ease the transition.
As a sort of warm up to starting preschool, visit the school with your child a couple of times to familiarize them with the environment. In your presence, the child will be encouraged to explore their new surroundings and maybe even make friends.
Create a special goodbye ritual with your child and practice it with them before starting preschool. This is bound to ease their anxiety. Include a small token of affection for your child in their backpack. And when you say goodbye, make sure you do so with a bright positive attitude so that the child feels that he is going into a safe environment.
Now even if your child has never spent any time away from you and his first time away from his parents is at the preschool, it does not mean that they are not ready for preschool. The first few days are bound to be stressful and maybe even slightly traumatic – for both the child and the parent. But in a few days, the child learns to adjust and will happily turn back and wave to you as you drop them off at the door of the preschool – if they are not in too much of a hurry to go in a greet their friends and plunge into their day of fun.
Now, you on the other hand, may not easily take to the separation as well as your child did, and are silently sobbing into your handkerchief.
Separation anxiety in parents becomes the next natural subject of discussion, in this ongoing thread on preschool education .