First-Day Jitters: Getting Kids Excited to Start Preschool

Go Visit School

Take the Grand Tour. The more familiar your child is with the new place, the easier the transition will be. Before school starts, take your child around the room and point out the different activities he'll do each day. You might also want to show him where his cubby will be and spend some time on the playground.

During the tour, point out a specific activity you know he'll enjoy, such as playing with musical instruments, and tell him the name of the school," recommends Ackerman. "Over the first week or so leading up to preschool, prepare him for the first day by saying, 'Next week you'll go to Elm Street Preschool and play with the tambourine,'" she says.

Visit over the summer. When you're driving by the school, casually point it out to your child, suggests Parents adviser Kathleen McCartney, Ph.D., a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. And make sure to play in the school playground a couple of times this month. If your school is open before the term starts, take your child to visit her classroom, meet the teacher, and tour the building so it will seem more familiar on the first day.

Meet and Greet Many preschools host an open house, where parents, teachers, and children can get to know each other. There will likely be many parents vying for the teacher's attention, but make sure you get a chance to chat with her when your child is within earshot. "If you show your child that the teacher is someone you like and trust, he'll have an easier time forming an attachment to her," says Ackerman.

Give your child some time with the teacher, too; many preschools offer a home visit before class begins, so take advantage of the time to help your new student acquaint himself with this new adult in his life. "It's also helpful for your child to know his teachers' names," says Sally Tannen, director of the Parenting Center at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, which has its own preschool. "Before his first day, remind him that he met them and what they were like," she says.

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