When my firstborn, Jace, came, you could say that I was over the moon. We would go to playdates with other babies in the neighborhood, enjoy listening to children’s songs at night, and try to communicate with each other in our little ways. During the summer, my husband and I enrolled Jace to a swimming class for babies in which he learned not only to dive but also to have fun with others. All this time, I was thinking, “Hmm, I am happy to see how friendly my child is becoming. He will not have a hard time when he enters preschool.”
But then, the time for Jace to attend preschool came, and it turned out that he did not like it. He was excited to put on his little backpack in the morning of that day and go in the car with mom and dad. He thought that we were going on a fun trip as usual. However, his smile was gone when we pulled up in front of the preschool, and he saw a swarm of same-aged kids everywhere. When my husband picked him up, he hung on to his dad’s collar and buried his face on his shoulder. The crying started when my husband tried to put Jace down so that we could usher him in his classroom.
In truth, I was in utter disbelief at the moment. I did not know what to do; my child was using all of his energy to resist going past the door. I had to apologize to the homeroom teacher and say that we would return some other day because Jace was not ready to attend preschool.
Now, scolding an innocent child who is scared of going to school is not an option. I talked to other moms and found out that kids have to get comfortable with the idea of attending preschool first before taking them there.
The value of preschool is not strictly academic. Psychoanalyst Gail Saltz, MD, said, “Preschool is really for socialization, to introduce the idea that learning can be fun, and to teach kids how to share, compromise, and get along as a group.”
Realizing my mistake, here’s what I learned to do.
Visit Schools With The Child
The first thing you can do is to visit the schools that you want to enroll your little one in. Although you may be paying for their education, your kid should have a say when it comes to where they want to study. By taking them with you, you will see which place excites them the most, and so you know that they will have fun there.
Act Out Classroom Scenarios
Considering roleplaying is one of your child’s favorite games, you can coax him or her o act as if you are their teacher while he or she is your student. You may furnish the playroom with a blackboard, children’s books, and even the same desk or chair that preschoolers use. This way, they can get used to the idea of studying.
“Talk with your child about being kind to others, making friends, and how to handle bullying and teasing,” Dan Brennan, MD, recommended. “Also, talk about healthy hand washing and healthy sharing of toys and personal items.”
Teach Basic Skills
It will not hurt to teach simple things to your child as well, such as tying their shoelaces, carrying their backpack, or putting on their clothes. While the teachers will eventually show them what to do, their confidence level will increase when they already have such skills.
Rebecca Palacios, PhD, also said, “Children learn best when routines and daily schedules are established. Established routines make for smoother transitions and help children to prepare mentally for the day ahead while providing frameworks in which creative learning can occur.”
It matters to make your child like schools at an early age. They will spend the next 10 or 20 years of their life studying, after all, so they should start strong.