The day has come. I’m feeling a little bittersweet because my daughter has reached a major milestone in her life: her first day of preschool.
Just like any parent would, I’ve been feeling a range of emotions surrounding this monumental change in my little girl’s life. Of course I’m excited for Aaliyah, our eldest, to begin her “official” journey into the great world of education. But at the same time, it’s hard to accept that my baby is growing up! (Seriously — when did she turn four?) It’s all happening so fast, and it’s a little scary!
For me, the best way to overcome my anxiety is to be as prepared as possible.
My parents always taught me to live by the 5 “P’s,” because proper preparation prevents poor performance. Even if it’s just pre-K, I wanted my daughter to adopt the proper mindset for school! This will ensure Aaliyah learns that school is serious, but also fun!
The following are nine ways I prepared my daughter (and myself!) for preschool:
1. Make sure your child is potty-trained.
For my family, making sure our daughter was potty-trained was the first step in deciding whether she was ready for preschool. Being potty-trained is not only a requirement for our preschool, but it’s also a pretty good indicator of any child’s sense of responsibility. Stay tuned for some tips and tricks on how to potty train!
2. Schedule an appointment with the pediatrician.
My family recently relocated, and we faced the daunting task of finding new doctors. It was super-important to me that we have excellent care for our children. Basically, I was after a pediatrician who is friendly, flexible in schedule, and extremely knowledgeable about kids — and that’s exactly what I found in Dr. Tanya Altmann! She and her amazing staff operate an affordable concierge practice with top-notch service, and it’s truly ideal for the modern parent. Check back soon for more info on our visit with Dr. Tanya!
3. Build anticipation about the exciting change in your child’s life.
To get your little one in the right mindset for the first day of preschool, incorporate the topic of school into everyday conversation. This can be done in a lighthearted, fun way. For example, drive around local parks and say, “You’ll have a slide just like that at your school!”
When it comes to change, I’ve found that talking to my kids in advance makes them feel more comfortable when it’s time to make a major life transition. Be it an appointment with a new doctor, or playing a new sport or activity, this tactic minimizes kids’ anxiety. In fact, it even creates excitement and anticipation for the event.
4. Get on a proper schedule.
If you haven’t done so already, establish a set schedule or routine about three weeks before school starts. This will ensure a smooth transition to the school setting.
Morning routines are really important. Try to eliminate late nights by reminding your kids we save those for the weekend! Children respond positively to morning charts with activities and pictures, which can help save time and reinforce responsibility.
5. Visit your child’s new school and get to know the teachers.
Who will be around my kid all day? What does her classroom look like? Who are the kids my child will interact with? What are the drop-off/pick-up procedures? These were only a few of the questions I had leading up to Aaliyah’s first day of school.
The best way to get comfortable is to visit the school and ask your questions in person! Cultivating an open relationship with your child’s teachers, and keeping an open line of communication, is key! Teachers can impart valuable information that will make the transition seamless. Our school gave us a comprehensive welcome packet that outlined absolutely everything we needed to know, which made us feel much better about our little girl starting pre-K.
6. Go shopping for school clothes and accessories.
This tip is my personal favorite — the back-to-school shopping trip! Even for young kids, a big shopping trip is a good indicator that it’s the beginning of a new school year. What better way to get them in the right mindset?
My advice is to get key pieces in sizes that will grow with your child throughout the year! At this age, kids grow like weeds! Here are some of my favorite pieces Aaliyah and I picked up this school year: (insert flat lay photo with labels of items)
7. Get your child’s hair done.
For a cute, low-maintenance hairstyle, try braids for your babe! This also minimizes the time it takes to get ready in the mornings — especially for those of us whose children have thick, curly, hard-to-manage hair! I’m thinking about keeping Aaliyah’s hair in braids for two weeks each month. Braids are also a great protective style and promote hair growth!
8. Prepare healthy meals for your preschooler.
To ensure your kiddo is ready for school, pack their diet with lots of healthy foods that encourage their development. Teach your kids from an early age that eating healthy is cool and yummy! Here are a few examples of healthy (but oh-so-delicious) meals you can make for your kids!
**Remember that most schools ask you to avoid nuts to protect kids with allergies.**
- Breakfast – Greek yogurt, assorted fruit, oatmeal
- Lunch – Turkey and cheese sandwich, fruit salad, celery, carrots, pretzels and hummus, juice box
- Dinner – Salmon patties, brown rice, broccoli
To make packing lunches easy, I suggest using containers to separate the foods and keep them fresher throughout the day! I found awesome stainless steel, BPA-free packing containers in navy and pink at Pottery Barn. Make sure to add an icepack to keep the food cool until lunchtime.
9. Enjoy a “First Day of Pre-K” photoshoot.
Last but not least, capture this time with a small photoshoot for your child. It’s fun to compare their growth and development at the end of the year — and then for years to come!
I decided to do a twist on the classic chalkboard photoshoot by bringing Aaliyah to the board and adding “First Day of Pre-K” and the year. This way, when I look back, I’ll know exactly what milestone I’m looking at! I purchased jumbo chalk from Toys “R” Us to make larger letters quickly. I also found a really great “Pre-K Princess” shirt on Etsy from the “Bump & Beyond Designs” shop. This shop has super-cute customized outfits for other occasions like birthdays and holidays too!
I hope these tips will make your transition to preschool a little easier. I’m so excited to see how my little one learns and grows this year, and I know you are too!
Please let me know if you found these tips helpful, and definitely leave me a comment if you have any other great suggestions.