How can I help prepare a soon-to-be preschooler?

Q: My daughter just turned 3-years old. She has always been around me and family members. How do I get her prepared to go to preschool?

A: The transition can be very challenging for both parents and children. If your child has not had much interaction with other children the summer is a great time to initiate that exposure. Find a friend with kids or just go hang out at a park or in the McDonald's playplace so they will have some exposure to other children their own age. If possible call the school and see if they can set you up with information about another new student in the class then set up a play date so she will know someone on the first day. It can take children time to establish new routines so brace yourself for 1-3 weeks of crying and clinging to your leg at morning drop off. A good teacher will remove the child from your leg, reassure them that they are okay and leave you at the door. They will also either call you later in the morning to let you know that the crying stopped or give you a phone number so you can call after an hour to reassure yourself that everything is okay. Do not follow the child into the room, they need to learn that the teacher is there for them and that he/she will help them meet their needs while you are not there. The biggest mistake I see parents making is not leaving when the child is upset or pulling them out of preschool entirely after the first few days of tears. If the crying lasts more than 3-4 weeks you and your child need to see your pediatrician and likely a play therapist to work through the attachment issue.

Answered by Dr. Carrie M. Brown

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