Helpful Tips For Parents Who Have Children Transitioning Into Preschool
As a director of a preschool for many years, I have personally seen how hard it can be on parents to put their faith in someone else to care for their children while they are at work or school. There are some helpful tips that can help ease your mind and make this transition easier than you may expect. When you decide it is time to start your child at a childcare center, you should set up several tours to look at the facilities. Before you actually take the tours, write down a set of questions that you would like to ask the director and/or teachers while you are there. Not sure what to ask? Here are some questions you might ask during the tour:
Ask the credentials of the individuals who will be caring for your child.
How much experience and education do they have?
How long have the teachers worked at the facility?
What is the teacher to child ratio?
What is a typical day like (schedule)?
Is there a place for my child’s belongings?
What should I provide for my child?
How often do they go outside?
How often do the children wash their hands?
Do you conduct background checks?
Do you do emergency drills, such as fire and tornado drills? How often?
Do I need to provide meals for my child?
What are your sick and discipline policies?
What are the facility hours?
How much is the tuition? How often do I pay? What all is included in the tuition price? Are there any other charges that I should expect?
At anytime is the facility closed?
How long has this facility been in business?
Do you have testimonials I can look at?
Ask for a parent handbook. Make sure to take time to thoroughly read through it and jot down any questions that may come to mind while reading it. You can call or email the director with these questions. Also, check out their website if one is available.
While visiting the center, check to see if there are plenty of developmentally appropriate toys in the classrooms, that the teachers and children seem happy, how the teachers interact with the children in their classroom, how the children respond to the teachers, that a schedule, emergency plan and menu are provided for parents to view, and that the facility looks clean.
Once you have decided on a child care program, ask for a copy of the classroom schedule and try to implement a similar schedule at home. Children thrive on routine and this will help them adjust.
Talk with your child about their new school and make a big deal about it. Getting them excited about attending will help them want to start their new adventure. They will be making many new friends and doing all kinds of activities so point that out to them as well.
You can read books to them about preschool. Most libraries have several books on this subject.
If you are able to, have your child attend just a few hours per day for the first week or two or see if the preschool will allow you to bring your child in for a couple of hours to do a “trial” day (you would stay with them).
Be excited about this new journey. Try to be careful to not show your stress and anxiety. Remember, they can feel it. If you are upset, they more than likely will be too.
On your child’s first day, reintroduce your child to their teachers and then let the teachers take over at that point.
I have seen firsthand how hard drop offs can be on the children and parents, but what I have found that works the very best is to drop them off with their teachers, say your goodbyes and leave. I know this may sound cruel, but it seems much harder on the children if you hang around. Normally after about 5 minutes or so, they calm down and go about their day.
Placing your child in the hands of others is never easy but know that a big change like this is always hard at first. It is typically harder on the parents than the child. Normally the children adjust within the first month, however some may take longer.
Take time to find the childcare program you are comfortable with, never settle for anything less. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Hopefully these tips are truly helpful in this new adventure for your family. Good luck!
Program Director-Springfield 1 Location