Come fall, mothers everywhere breathe a sigh of relief as their kids board the big yellow bus and head back to school. But there's one group of moms who may experience some conflicting emotions – likely a combination of excitement, apprehension, and even a touch of sadness. These are the moms of first-time preschoolers! Even those whose children are heading into their second (or third) year of preschool may have some mixed feelings – especially considering that the following fall will likely mean kindergarten for their little ones! It's completely normal to worry about how your child will handle preschool, especially if they haven't been to daycare or aren't particularly used to being away from you. But even if your child is regularly in someone else's care, preschool means new teachers, new classmates, and new rules. Luckily there are some steps you can take to make the whole process of preparing for preschool a little bit easier, and a lot less stressful, for the both of you. Help Them Brush Up On Basics No, it's not necessary to grill your 3-year-old on colors or the alphabet. But it is a good idea to help them prepare in other ways by going over some basic skills that they'll need to use while at school. This includes practicing tasks like opening and shutting their lunchbox and backpack and also social skills such as saying hello to a new friend and a refresher on sharing and taking turns. Let Them Know What To Expect Your soon-to-be-preschooler likely has their own worries about starting school, so make sure you take time to discuss what will happen there and give them plenty of chances to ask questions. Talk about all the fun things they'll do, the new friends they'll make, and how many neat things they'll get to learn. If possible, visit their classroom and teacher prior to the first day (many preschools realize how helpful this is and offer an opportunity to do so.) If that's not feasible, at least take a swing through the school's parking lot so your little one can catch a glimpse of the building and playground. Even a quick look can make it seem a lot less intimidating in all of the first-day commotion. There are also numerous DVDs and books about starting preschool, and these can go a long way in reassuring your child and answering questions they may not even know how to ask. Iron Out the Logistics Nothing ruins a first day of school (for everyone) more than a frazzled stressed-out mom. The week prior to the big day, iron out the transportation logistics, pick up any necessary supplies, and glance through the school's paperwork to make sure you're familiar with the rules and procedures and haven't overlooked any important details. The night before your child's first day, have your (almost!) preschooler pick out their outfit and help pack their backpack and lunch. Serve one of their favorites for dinner and aim to get them to bed on the early side. With some basic planning and preparation, your child's first day of preschool can go (relatively) smoothly. Even if it results in a few tears (from you or them!), as the days go by school will likely become something that your child looks forward to, and you'll enjoy hearing them talk about their day and watching them grow and learn. After a few weeks, you'll probably wonder what you were so nervous about to begin with. Make a note to remind yourself of this in a year or two when it's time for kindergarten!
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