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Guide 2 Parenting   >   Starting Preschool

Starting Preschool


When you send your 2-3 year-old off to a day care center or nursery class, there are difficult issues of separation and independence for both parent and child. Older children, 4 or 5 years old, will probably go off without much difficulty, but younger kids may have a very hard time with leaving their parents.

As with many things in the life, the secret is in the preparation. You can help your child begin the transition by talking with him ahead of time about what is going to happen. It is best to start three or more weeks before the date that the preschool program or daycare center commences. You will need to patiently reassure your child. That includes taking him with you on little trips to the facility, and showing him all the other kids and toys that he will be able to play with. Discuss the visits with your child, and in these discussions be sure to remind and ask him how "fun" it all looked.

For children under the age of 2 years, it is much more difficult to prepare them for daycare time, because they have much less understanding at such a young age. Nevertheless it is still best to describe what you think will be of interest to your child. In any case, no matter what you do, you should expect that the transition require a period of adjustment and reassurance for your child.

On the first day, make sure that you explain to your child that you will have to leave her with the rest of the children once you get there. You should reiterate when you are coming back (for example "right after lunch time"). If you are having a friend or neighbor pick-up your child, be sure to explain this too.

You will need to be extra patient during the first few days. Saying goodbye can be difficult for a small child, and it can take up to 30 minutes and many goodbyes before you are able to leave them. If your child bursts out in tears, do not threaten or scold them but instead reassure them. Don't worry, as the child gradually becomes accustomed to you leaving, it will eventually, hopefully after a week or so, start to become easier.


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