When your child starts preschool, it marks the start of a new chapter in all of your lives. Allow plenty of time for the induction process to get your child off to a good start.
You will probably start your preschool visits about six months before your child is due to start, in order to choose a preschool. Read more about choosing a preschool.
Drop by and visit a few times in the weeks before school starts. You can even visit when the preschool is closed if it's possible to go in and play in the playground. The more pleasant memories your child has of the preschool the better.
Don't hurry the induction process
Some preschools recommend a short induction of just three days. But be prepared for it to take longer. According to child psychologists, it is only when the child has established a secure relationship with an adult at the preschool that it is able to relax, join in with play and start developing optimally.
As a general rule, you and your child should visit the preschool together for the first few days. However, you're not the one who should show your child all the fun things at the preschool. Usually, one of the teachers will have been appointed to pay extra attention to your infant. He or she must get a chance to gain your child's trust.
A few days into the induction week, the preschool staff will probably ask you to go for a walk. You will be asked to gradually stay away for longer.
The first times you go away
Your child may be upset and anxious the first times you wave goodbye. You will probably feel the same. But even if your child's crying is heart-wrenching, try not to show it. Make light of the situation. Don't pause in the doorway; this will only make your child more anxious.
The child will often be less distressed if the teacher finds something exciting to distract it with, but it might take a while before this works. Hopefully, he or she will manage to make your child feel secure.
Soon your infant will realise that you always come back.
If the teacher feels that the separation seriously distresses your child, it is a good idea to always keep your phone on so you can be contacted.
Learn about your child's daily activities
It's good if you learn the preschool's daily procedures and the names of the other children. This makes it easier to talk to your child about the fun or challenging things that happen there.
If your child tells you about a problem or something unfair that happened at preschool, always listen and show that you understand. This is very important, even if you can't always do anything about it or suggest a solution.
The teachers will be happy to tell you about the preschool's daily routines, such as mealtimes and mid-afternoon naps. And you can always spend a day there. This is usually fun and exciting – both for children and parents.
If your child has trouble making friends at preschool, invite a child to your home so they can meet in a calmer environment.
Soft toys and different clothes
Most preschools allow infants to keep a soft toy or a comfort blanket with them during their lunchtime nap. Some ask for photographs – for instance of family members or pets – to put up next to the child's clothes peg. Your infant can look at the photos during the day and will feel more secure to think that those things are waiting at home.
Your child will probably be required to keep various items of clothing at preschool. You will probably be given a list of clothing to bring. It might include:
- Rain clothes and rain boots.
- Dry clothes to change into after playing with water or outdoors.
- Extra underwear in case your infant's diaper or pants get soiled.
- Slippers with non-slip soles that are easy to put on.
- Nappies (at most preschools).