First-Day Jitters: Getting Kids Excited to Start Preschool

Incorporate School into Your Life

Talk the talk. School has a language all its own. So rename your everyday activities using preschoolese. When you paint or color, call it "art time" and do it in a designated "art corner." When your child eats her afternoon milk and cookies, it's "snacktime." No more nap -- it's "rest time" (you might even put a mat on the floor).

Invent a voyage. Get him excited about the adventure of the daily trip to school. Will he get to ride on a big yellow school bus? Will he get to spend time in the car with Daddy each morning? Maybe there's a fun walk with Grandma in his future? Narrate the story of how he'll get to his destination with lots of colorful details. If he's not taking the school bus, do a dry run so he'll know what to expect.

Get a head start with art. Encourage your child to draw a picture to give the teacher on the first day. It'll be a good icebreaker, and he'll love seeing his artwork displayed right away.

Act it out. Flynn recommends doing some pretend play with stuffed animals or other toys to help your child adjust to the idea that he'll be leaving you, but you'll come back -- his teddy bear goes to school with some other furry friends, Mommy Teddy leaves and returns after he's sung a song and had a snack, for example. Flynn also recommends sussing out how nervous your child is and addressing his concerns. "You don't want to ask him if he's scared too many times -- that might make him even more fearful," says Flynn. "But if he seems anxious in the days preceding school, reassure him that he'll be okay and that you're nearby if he needs you," says Flynn.

Go on a mini shopping spree. Buying her a new backpack, pencil case, and set of crayons will make her feel like a big kid -- especially if she gets to pick out the gear herself. But don't ask your child to save her supplies for school. Let her carry her stuff around and play with her gear right away. You want to make as many deposits in the school-is-fun bank as possible.

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