How to Make the Most of the First Day of Preschool

My husband and I tried to prep our 3-year-old son Dylan, the best we could for his first day of preschool. We told him he’d be meeting all sorts of new people and making a bunch of new friends. “Why can’t I stay home with you mom?” he asked.

As a stay-at-home mom, Dylan and I were used to having our days filled with whatever we desired. Going to school was going to throw a wrench in our former laze around days. I decided to get Dylan pumped up about preschool. Here are 9 proven ways to get your toddler excited about getting ahead of the class.

1. Let him pick out his backpack.

I took Dylan to an upscale kid’s boutique where I normally wouldn’t shop, but because this was for a special occasion, I wanted him to feel special, too. I let him pick out any backpack he wanted and even had his name embroidered on it. He got to pick out the font and color (orange, his favorite) so when it was time to pick up his special present, he was so excited to see his name in bright colors.

1. Let him pick out his backpack.

2. Attend the open house.

Most preschools will have an open house where you can meet the teachers. As ‘little’ as this might seem, it’s actually a really important step in establishing a relationship between the teacher and child.

Preschool teacher Cathy Bolin says, “Meeting the teachers, exploring the room, learning about the environment your child will be in sets your mind at ease when it is time to take them that first day of school. I like having an open house because it seems to take the first day jitters away from parent and child and they seem to be comforted by knowing how everything will work together for that school year.”

2. Attend the open house.

3. Help your child pick out an outfit for the big day.

The night before, or even a few days before the actual day of school, let your child try on their clothes (and backpack). This will be sure to get him excited for the real day.

3. Help your child pick out an outfit for the big day.

4. Go over a 'mock' schedule with your preschooler.

You might not know what the school’s actual curriculum will look like but you can give your child an idea on what his morning might look like depending on how many hours each day he will be going to school.

4. Go over a 'mock' schedule with your preschooler.

5. Take your child to get their haircut.

I always feel better when I get my hair trimmed so why not do the same for your child? I recommend doing it about a week before the first day of school. That way, if for some reason the haircut goes south … you have a few days for it to grow back.

5. Take your child to get their haircut.

6. Get everyone on board.

Kids get excited when they feel cheered on by their family. When grandma and grandpa call, have them pump up your child about how excited they are that school is about to start. Skype is a great way to involve everyone and have some real face-to-face time with your preschooler.

6. Get everyone on board.

7. One of the most important things to bring to the first day...your camera.

Don’t forget to capture this special moment on film.

7. Bring a camera.

8. Breakfast. Breakfast. Breakfast.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but do make it a point to send your preschooler off with a full belly. It will help him concentrate and hold him off until snack time.

8. Eat breakfast.

9. Turn up the volume.

I bought a new music CD for the car ride to school (we only live a few minutes away but hey … it’s all about him!) Music always has a way of getting kids excited. We now listen to that same CD every time we drive to school. It’s become our ‘thing.’

9. Turn up the volume.

Now that your child is set to go for his first day of school, you can head back to the house to make some homemade chocolate chip cookies for both of you to enjoy when he comes home.


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Meagan Ruffing enjoys finding new ways to get her preschooler on board with all things education. She is Dylan’s biggest cheerleader and can’t wait to try out some new ideas next year, when he enters his second year of preschool.

Published: August 2013

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