So you have spent hours researching on various preschool curriculum and visiting the ideal preschool for your child.
Now is the time for you to send him/her to the childcare or a playgroup for the first time and it can be both an exciting and a nerve-racking experience for parents and children alike.
It is common for your child to experience separation anxiety and perhaps, more so, if he/she has been kept at home mostly with family members during the pandemic.
The good news is, you can feel more confident and ensure that the transition is smooth for you and your child with some preparation for that first day of childcare.
Top Tips to Prepare Your Child for the First Day of Childcare in Singapore
Before the First Day
1. Visit the Preschool
Children display anxieties in a number of different ways. One way to reduce separation anxiety is to introduce them, in advance, to the preschool or childcare centre that they will be attending. Help them familiarise with the environment.
It would be beneficial if your child gets to meet the staff working in the preschool so that they will not be total strangers to him/her.
Have a chat with your child and assure your little one that these adults will be taking care of the children and he/she is going to have fun in the childcare.
2. Read and Have a Conversation with Your Child
There are many books with stories about the First Day of School and you can certainly borrow them from the local libraries in Singapore.
It is helpful to read with your child so as to encourage more conversations about how he/she is feeling about starting childcare or a playgroup. Address some of his/her fears and validate the concerns raised.
Assure your child that the characters in the stories go through the same feelings that he/she has but going to preschool can turn out to be fun.
3. Involve your Child
What better way to get your children excited than to involve them in getting ready for childcare?
Go on a shopping trip with your child and invite him/her to choose a new backpack, water bottle, shoes, etc.
Have fun labelling the items with sticker labels with your child and pack them before the first day of preschool.
4. Practise Being Apart
Before the first day of childcare or playgroup, it would be good to help your child get used to being away from you for a while.
Place him/her with a relative or a friend for a few hours first and gradually increase the time period until your child can spend long hours away from you without getting upset.
5. Go through the Routine with Your Child
Have a chat about the childcare routine with your child so that he/she can be mentally prepared.
Pack the essential stuff to bring to the childcare together with your child and talk about the various activities that he/she would be engaged in, including playtime with classmates and the meals your little one can look forward to.
At our Little Footprints Preschool centres, wholesome meals are prepared in-house so there is one thing less for you to worry about or prepare.
On the First Day
1. Get Ready Without Rushing
On the first day of preschool, it is important that everyone has sufficient time to get ready.
Have a slow and hearty breakfast and go through the plan for the day with your child.
Be mentally prepared that you may have to deal with tantrums or tears from the little one since big transitions often come with big feelings. Stay calm and composed throughout.
2. Take Your Time at Drop-Off
As you bring your child to the childcare or playgroup, take some time to settle down with him/her.
Reintroduce the little one to the staff and the environment in a positive and encouraging manner. Sit down to read a book or engage in a short activity together.
When it is time to leave, emphasise that you will be back to pick him/her up in the afternoon and that you are excited to hear about the day at school.
Be specific about the pick-up time in a way that your child can understand. For instance, you can say, “I’ll be back after you have had your afternoon nap and snack.”
3. Leave with Confidence
As you are about to leave, reassure your child that he/she is going to have a great day with friends and teachers at the preschool.
Never sneak out during the drop-off. Inform your child that you are leaving. Be loving and confident, give a smile and a hug, and keep the goodbye sweet and short.
If you linger at the door, so will the transition time which will in turn increase the level of anxiety in both you and your child.
It is understandable that you find being apart from your little one to be unbearable, especially on the first day of childcare drop-offs.
To ease your anxiety, keep your communication with the teachers open. Make a call to the preschool and ask if your child is doing well. Even as your child continues to attend preschool, it is absolutely fine to get updates from the teachers.
At Little Footprints Preschool, parent-teacher communication is done either face-to-face or via the LittleLives app so you can be kept abreast of your child’s development in school.
5. Keep Your Promise
You will be able to build trust in your child when you keep to your promise of return. Ensure that you have ample time to reach the childcare on time to receive your child with open arms. Ask your little one about the day and reward him/her with a little treat.
All Set for the First Day of Preschool?
The first days at preschool can be exhausting for the little ones, so give your child some grace as he/she takes time to transit to the new routine. It is common for some children to continue shedding tears for the first few weeks or even months.
Be patient with them and continue to be encouraging. Above all, have faith in the teachers that they will be doing their best in giving your child a positive experience in school.
At Little Footprints Preschool, we are passionate about offering quality childcare for our children in a supportive and caring environment. We encourage parents to book a visit to your preferred centre.
Come with your child to tour the premise and learn how Little Footprints Preschool can support you in finding the right fit for your child and family.
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