Countdown to Preschool


Before their first son, Sambhav turned two, our friend Anand & his wife Shilpa started shopping for preschools. They asked around, looked and explored every option. The school they settled on seemed like dream. The building was fantastic, class small, & teachers were warm and experienced. Moreover, the playground and activities looked like so much fun, Anand wanted to go there himself!

Unfortunately, Sambhav did not. We all were surprised and astonished that a child like Sambhav, who was so playful, cheerful always, started all tantrums the day he was introduced to preschool.
His mother came to me, tears in her eyes saying, “Amar, he is too young for all this”. She always felt guilty, anxious, & was sad that he cries. Even I had seen tears in Anand’s eyes, guilt in his expressions whenever he picked Sambhav from Preschool.

Will he hate me for putting him away? Are the teachers experienced to handle HIM? I know him; he will vomit out if he cries too much. Would he be comfortable there? I am unable to see his face ready to cry. I am not doing good to him. So many questions & only one reply from the teachers. He will be comfortable, Give him some time to adjust.
Really, it was a very hard time for Anand & Shilpa as it took almost one month before Sambhav really settled in the preschool.

What went wrong?

What could they have done to avoid such a traumatic & extreme emotional time for them? I was getting ready for my own son Ketan. We tend to learn a lot from our & others experiences. The other one is always a better choice, specifically with parenting.

I read a lot about preschools, getting ready for preschools, many books on preschool.
Barbara willer, PhD, dy. Executive director of National Association for the education of young children in Washington D.C says, “For many children, going to preschool is their first big experience being away from home & parents”. She explains even those kids who are very receptive and smiling have to adjust to a new place, new leader, new friends, new rules and a fear of Unknown. As the days for Ketan to go to preschool came nearer, I was getting myself ready for all tantrums. All those experiences of my friends helped me to prepare him for preschool. He went readily to play, enjoy, & learn new things happily.

Over a period, I understood the importance of Preschool. Perhaps understood the need & ways of getting the child really feel good to go to preschool. Until a few year back, we used to say, “ We mould his future”, but since our children started going in preschools & now schools we say, “We help him mould his future.” However, we all would like you to say, “We help them mold their future”.

You as a parent of a toddler too must be worried about his preschool days. You may worry about him missing you, staying safe, making friends, having fun, and getting along with the teachers.
There is a lot you can do to make sure day one for preschool goes off without a hitch.

Let us call it the COUNTDOWN FOR PRESCHOOL.

The trick is to start preparing your child with a bit – bit of information & giving him sufficient time for processing this information. We have observed a two-week preparation before the D-Day for preschool is sufficient. Let us know what we did

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -Two weeks before

Talk about it. A brief but positive introduction is all that is usually necessary. Our communication will help them to get prepared for preschool.
Do not give examples of kids who have been crying & throwing tantrums. Brief him that he is growing up & is getting old enough to go to the preschool. Let him remember the good time he had sometimes enjoyed with friends & relatives. “You’ll get to play with other kids. You will have snacks & teacher will read storybooks for you. You’ll enjoy”. Do not tell him how you or for that matter any one you know have been throwing tantrums for not going to preschool.

Go for a preschool tour. Point out the preschool casually whenever you pass by or drive the way. Take the privilege of the visiting hours, most of the preschools offer just before the new school year begins. Children tend to have the fear of unknown as do most of the adults so by having a tour you can relieve a great deal of anxiety- - - both yours & your child’s.
The visiting hours allow one or more kids to come & play at the preschool.
We do provide a tour for per-school at our pre-school. They have friends when they come in on the first day. You may even bring camera & take photos of all.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -One week before

Count the days. Your child does not understand what you mean by two days or two weeks. So explain him that when papa goes to office after Sunday holiday he would go to preschool. Starts marking a tick on the calendar till the D-Day.

Adjust sleep schedules. If your child tends to stay awake late at night or wake up late in the morning, you should start adjusting his sleep times, so he will not be exhausted on the first few days of the preschool. Start making your child sleep 15 minutes early & wake him up 15 minutes early.

Start new routines. Another option with the children whose parents feel that they will have a
Hard transition time is to find out the preschool snack time, lunch & naps time. Therefore, you can mirror the school day at home. “Let us have our snack at 10:30 today, just as they do it in you new preschool” Or “its 12:00 and time to rest a while because it will be the rest time in your preschool. Learning the routine is important because children will always feel more secure & comfortable when they know prior exactly what to expect. Serve the lunch in the similar Tiffin box she will be using at preschool. It will be easier for her to open up & eat the sandwiches you gave.
Specially talk about using potty. If your child is not trained yet, discuss what she will do if she gets wet.

Buy something special with them. With our second child Tanvi we made it a point to go to the preschool & see the dress, bag they prefer, water bottle convient for her. We purchased the items they informed to bring, way before the school opened & the rush started last hour. We took both Ketan & Tanvi along with us. Purchased the things required along with them & a song note “School Chale Hum”. She was so excited about using her new backpack & wearing her new shoes that she could not wait for the preschool to begin.
The day before

Take it easy. Keep the day before preschool as calm and relaxing as possible for you & your child. Do not plan things too exciting or do not go for outing a day before, to tire your child out. Start with simple questions, “ I think we’re al ready for preschool tomorrow. Can you think of anything we have forgotten?”
Address her concern. If you child asks a question, please take it seriously. Avoid comments like, “Don’t be silly!” and “that’s ridiculous” Don’t make try to make him too relaxed by saying, “don’t worry, everything would be fine.” Surely its fine for you, not for him. Tell him the truth, saying “it can be hard for you to make friends immediately. But tomorrow you’ll meet lots of kids, and if you find one like you, we’ll call him to play with us at home.”

Make a plan. Before your child goes to bed that day, be sure you take out the things he is going to wear, take along at preschool. Make some decisions together. What will she wear tomorrow? What she will eat at breakfast tomorrow? Who is going to drop & pick her up?
It is a good idea to lay all the things on the bed so that she sees & can feel al that she has to wear & take. Moreover, you too do not loose control over the situation by searching things on time.
While packing, her things be sure you give her a group photograph of the family or a toy she loves most, to be taken to preschool. Let the child have something in her “psychological pocket”
Before going to bed please say the last tip, “ tomorrow you will wake up at 7:30. I will make you parathas or the thing you wish to have for breakfast. You will brush your teeth. You will put on new lovely clothes. You will take the lunch box. We will get on our Honda. And I will take you to preschool.
Let her know what you will be doing when she is at preschool. “While you’re doing your work at preschool, Papa will be doing his work at office.”

The D-Day a Big day
Do not rush. Do not let your excitement percolate in the child. Be calm & relaxed as possible.
The best way is to keep your emotions as normal as possible. Do not shout at him if he drops milk cup, dribbles sauce on the dress, you should have a fallback plan ready.
Dear friends, with children this young, its really important to do whatever you can to make this transition to preschool feel safe & positive. With out a successful separation, its difficult to built Childs independence & readiness to learn.
On the way to preschool, surely a happy, gay & rhythmic song helps the child to reduce her tension. I remember we always sang, “School chale hum, ho ho ho ho ho ho ho -------.” Start a ritual of praying in a temple or just saying “Jai bajrangbali” on the way to preschool. It will help the transition from home to school.

Stick around. Do not worry even if you do all the above and your child tries to cling to you. Not ready to get down and go in the preschool. Do not force him. Instead, let him play around. Be there for some time. Stick around. Be there. If necessary, ask for help. Teachers there have seen many kids from smile to frown and many tantrums. They have been trained to be calm & patient. In fact, do not be disappointed by his crying. All kids are different and all take their own time to adjust. We need to communicate the right thing.

Do not sneak out. If your child is happily engaged, you tempt to give a slip & sneak away. Do not violate his trust. You must not leave him without saying goodbye. Instead go over and give a hug a kiss to say goodbye, tell her when you will, be back. Example: “ After you have your snacks, a little nap, and teacher reads you a story, I will be waiting for you.”

After you leave, do not worry. In fact, if you check with the teacher later on, you will probably discover that the tears disappeared as you go. Good teachers are always alert to make sure children say good-bye.

Do not be late. Keep your word. Children need to feel confident from the beginning that they can count on you to come back, and to come when you said you would.

Also, do not get too excited how your child will greet you. While some children will rush to their parents, some tend to avoid them. Their negative reactions do not necessarily mean they had a bad day. Ketan always used to talk, shout but now Tanvi just comes and hugs.

Ok they have their own ways to say hello.

All children have different tolerance levels, and many are physically and emotionally exhausted after a day at preschool. Therefore, they need a chance to blow off steam and cool down.

Begin a ritual. We used to drink juice on the way back to home for one month. Spending 300 Rupees for a happy start to learning process is nothing. You can stop at a garden on the way. Move along the footpath, see a beautiful building, show your own school and do many things while driving back home.
Helping your child end his preschool day on a calm, relaxing note will make it much easier for him to separate again.

Believe me,

CHILDHOOD IS NOT PREPARATION FOR LIFE,

CHILDHOOD IS LIFE

Lets help them live it better.

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