Levi started a new preschool last month. Since he was simply transferring from another Montessori program, we didn’t have to do as much preparing as we did back in February, when the concept of school was totally new to him.
With the new school year just around the corner (or this week if you live in Omaha!), you might be getting ready to send your toddler to nursery school or preschool for the first time. I know the idea seems daunting; Levi was just eighteen months old when he began at Montessori and still very much my baby guy.
Here are some of the things we did to prepare Levi for preschool that may also help your child:
- Visit the classroom beforehand. Taking a tour of your toddler’s new school will get him excited for the books, toys, and activities awaiting him. Plus, being familiar with the room will be comforting on that first day.
- Read books about school. A month or so before Levi’s first first day, we started reading Llama Llama Misses Mama together, which was a gift from his grandma. The story not only emphasizes that school is fun, but also that mom will come back when the day is done. Some other books about going to school include: Maisy Goes to Preschool, Preschool Day Hooray!, and My First Day at Nursery School.
- Let your child bring something that reminds him of you to school. We hung a family photo (actually, our family holiday card!) in Levi’s cubby at his original Montessori, but some preschools allow students to bring a small photo album of their family with them. Your toddler may feel some relief seeing loved ones during stressful moments at school, especially during separation anxiety.
- Prepare a special goodbye. Whether you say “ugga mugga,” a silly sounding term of endearment from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, or act out The Kissing Hand, having a trademark goodbye can help ease separations. But keep it short! A lingering goodbye makes the transition that much difficult for toddlers who don’t want you to leave. Trust that your child’s teacher will lovingly help your little one calm down.
- Buy something brand new just for school. Shopping with your toddler for a new backpack to carry or a colorful pair of sneaker to wear on the first day of school gives her something to look forward to. The most popular backpacks in Levi’s new classroom by far are the Zoo Pack backpacks by Skip Hop. Without knowing what all the other kids had, I picked out a simple blabla canvas backpack featuring Charles the Lion (Bonus: I found it on sale at The Land of Nod!), and I think it’s helpful that Levi’s bag stands out from the rest.
I’d love to hear if you did anything else to prepare your toddler for preschool!
(Photos of Levi’s first day of his new school taken on July 15, 2013. He just wouldn’t stand still for a good, clear shot!)