Information for new starters
The start of pre-school is a milestone that's often anticipated with great excitement and joy, but also with lots of crying, and uncertainty. For children, the main source of anxiety around entering pre-school is that they have absolutely no idea what to expect. They have spent the first two or three years learning the rules and routines of their family life and they are completely unfamiliar with the new rules and routines they will encounter. For parents, the main source of separation anxiety is worrying that their child will feel abandoned!
Many parents may see their child have a bad first reaction to pre-school and immediately decide they’re not ready. Instead, consistency is key when it comes to making pre-school a part of your child's new routine. Simply going together on a regular basis will provide your child with a strong sense of anticipation.
Keep your goodbyes short and sweet so that your child knows what to expect but doesn't prolong your departure. When you pick them up at the end of the day, reinforce the idea that you came back, just like you said you would. This way, each day's drop-off won't feel like you're both starting teary and upsetting goodbyes all over again.
Your child may benefit from bringing a little reminder of home to pre-school to ease their separation anxiety and reassure them. One such example may be photos of your family and/or items from home.
Comfort objects can provide a real sense of security to children in an unfamiliar environment.
Starting pre-school checklist:
- Read books about starting pre-school
- Use pretend play to explore ideas about starting pre-school
- Look through the photographs on this site of the building and members of staff with your child
- Take time to listen to your child’s fears and anxieties
The week before pre-school:
- Buy a new bag/rucksack (where possible let them choose it)
- Label all items (bag, clothes, water bottle, lunchbox, coats, shoes, slippers etc.)
- Talk about pre-school routines
- Get into a bedtime routine
The night before pre-school:
- Answer any last minute questions
- Let your child choose clothes for their first day
- Pack your child’s bag together
- Don’t focus too much on the first day unless your child really wants to
The first day:
- Wake up early enough so you don’t have to rush to get to pre-school
- Share breakfast together in a relaxed atmosphere
- Keep your tone positive and upbeat
- Don’t forget that comforter!