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What can a parent expect for their child’s first day of preschool?

Early Childhood Education Foundations

12/23/2021 | Evan Klinger

The first day of preschool can be the most memorable moment of your child’s life.  Gone are the moments of daycare filled with strangers and irregular hours.  Preschool takes place in a classroom.  Your child will have a teacher and a new term for the other kids: classmates!

In the “before times”, a parent could literally and figuratively hold their preschoolers hand throughout the whole first day.  You could plan on spending as much time as you both need to smooth the separation anxiety. There could be countless hugs goodbye and lots of physical comfort for your child.  This type of physical affection makes your child release Oxytocin, a comforting chemical product of the human body.  In essence, these hugs and long goodbyes are turning off your child’s internal alarm system, manifesting as elevating cortisol levels, bringing their stress hormones back down to Earth.

But in the 2021-2022 school year, the lingering parent is not an option at preschools.  The first day of preschool begins with a terse car drop-off for the parent and child.  During these COVID-19 pandemic times, the opportunity for a parent to even get out of the car may not be possible. Take that extra moment for the in-car hug but make sure you got plenty of them at home!  This makes a smooth car line and a simplified signing in process so important!  Hopefully your preschool has taken the right steps to ensure that this is a seamless process with no hassles.

Preschool will be your child’s first introduction to “subject” learning and their teacher may break the day up into parts such as music, reading, and art.  But parents can rest assured, your preschooler isn’t being thrown into the deep-end of classroom subjects quite yet.

A teaching opportunity may arise when the preschool teacher asks the children to go on a nature walk and identify as many insects as they can.  This will be tied in later in the day when the preschoolers go to the school library and are asked to pick a book about insects to read.

Motivating preschoolers to read, study and participate in class will be the teacher’s biggest challenge.  Children will be led in engaging activities that will encourage the preschoolers to want to learn. 

The student will come home to their parents and explain how they can’t wait to return to the preschool the next day. It is this base of excitement that will energize your preschooler's educational experience!  They may want to rush through breakfast or get dropped off at school early to get a head start on the day.  Preschool can be addictive very quickly to the young students who are experiencing a classroom environment for the first time!

The first weekend after preschool begins is a stellar time to sit down with your child and talk about their experience so far.  You can talk about their new friends, new teachers and what it's like to be at a new school.  If they were emotional and maybe cried in the first few days when you separated, the first weekend is a good opportunity to talk about their feelings and prepare them for their next full week of preschool.  

Getting prepared for preschool is all about communication with your child - even before the big day!  If the weather is a factor, make sure to pack some extra clothes for your child.  If naptime is part of your preschool’s routine, your child may want to bring their favorite stuffed animal or sleeping aide.  Preschool doesn’t have to be an unfamiliar place if you pack something very familiar for your preschooler!

Depending on the class size, you may want to put a piece of tape with your child’s name on it for everything your preschooler brings into the classroom - this new classroom dynamic can be confusing!  You can make this even more fun by taping small photos of your family or your child’s favorite things as identifiers on objects so they don’t get lost in the preschool.

The preschool experience can be smooth with a little preparation and a lot of patience.  Parents can tell their spouses that they may need support in the beginning too - kids aren’t the only ones who cry on the first day of preschool!

The first day of preschool can be a lot and with the Playground childcare app, parents can sign their children in right from their phone, coordinate playdates that happened organically at your child’s preschool, and temporarily authorize carpools with other families.  Playground provides peace of mind so you and your family can have an amazing first day of preschool.

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