Is your child ready to start preschool? If this is your family's first experience with pre-kindergarten or daycare centers, you may not know what to expect from your young student's first year in school. Take a look at what you need to know about child care centers, early learning, and the first few days or weeks in a new program.
What Should You Expect From Your Child During the First Day of Care?
The first day of preschool or daycare is a major change for your child. While some children are excited to meet their new friends and spend time in a new setting, others are anxious. General school anxiety and separation anxiety are completely normal. If your child suddenly seems shy or doesn't want you to leave immediately after drop-off, don't worry. This is common — and you can take steps to reduce separation anxiety.
Before the start of school, take a tour of the building with your child. This will help them to feel more comfortable with their new daycare center. If they still feel nervous or cry on the first day, create a good-bye routine or ritual. A special pre-school morning handshake, hug, song, or story can reduce stress during this transition time. You can also talk to the teacher about ways to reduce separation anxiety. The early childhood professional may have tips and tricks based on their knowledge of child development and past experiences.
What Should You Expect From the Center During the First Day of Care?
Tips to tame potential separation anxiety aren't the only things you should expect from the school or staff members on the first day. Your child's teacher should welcome your family into the classroom. If you haven't already toured the facility or your child's room, now is the time to ask for more information. The teacher can point out different centers or areas of the room (such as an art center or block-play area) and provide you with an overview of the typical daycare day.
Along with a greeting from the teacher and a classroom tour, you may need to meet with the center's director to turn in forms, sign documents, or complete any remaining paperwork.
What Should You Expect From the First Few Weeks of Care?
After your child settles in to their new routine, it's likely you will notice a reduction in separation anxiety of drop-off-time tantrums. Your child may gradually start to show signs of developing new skills. These could include social, emotional, cognitive, language, or physical abilities. You may also see the products or results of the activities your child engages in — such as finger paintings, drawings, or other school-day creations.