Nine Lessons That I Picked Up In The First Week After My Son Started Preschool

Last Tuesday we began a new journey of life with our two and half-year old toddler joining preschool. It was the day of induction where the parents and the children were briefed about the set expectations from the Montessori method of teaching at the preschool. It was heartwarming to see the compassion with which the teachers and the principal dealt with the toddlers. The youngest in the class was a cute 1.9 yrs old girl and the eldest a 3 yrs old boy. The interaction was made interesting with a lot of games and some chocolates. We went back satisfied with the assurance we felt while talking to the teachers. Little did we know that this was the beginning of a roller-coaster ride on emotions.

Day 1 – There was no difficulty in getting him to school. There it began with one kid crying when everyone decided to follow suit. For my son, this was the first time that he was staying in an environment without a single family member. While he went inside without much fuss, I came to know later that he had not left his class teacher alone even for a second. After the stipulated forty minutes, he came out crying.

Day 2 – It was a bit of struggle to get him ready for school. He kept refusing to dress up. Nevertheless we kept trying to get him excited about the games that he would get to play with his friends in school. There were numerous moments of meltdown. The preschool has a fantastic approach of taking the students inside the premises. They hardly allow any time for goodbyes. Yet again he came out crying after the stipulated duration. We were told that he had played a little with the ball but mostly had been clinging onto his class teacher.

Day 3 – This was the day of massive struggle – I was almost tempted to give in and let him skip school since he simply refused to co-operate. Took a lot of effort in coaxing and convincing him to finally make the trip. But the moment he reached the preschool gate, he started shedding copious amount of tears. And suddenly every kid waiting for their turn to get in started howling. It was heartbreaking to see so many tiny tots in tears. He was the first one to come out after classes and I was told about him crying for most of the duration that day.

The last two days being weekend, he had a break and we took him to parks and play zones to let him relax. As we gear up for another probably a little difficult day at school tomorrow, here are few tips to help cope up with a bumpy first week at preschool.

  1. Talk to the toddler about school – It is essential to prepare him for this journey. While he might not be able to understand all of it, he might actually start looking forward to something new.

2. Walk him down to the gate instead of carrying him – The most difficult part of the school is the separation at the gate. It gets tougher when the child is being carried as it is a natural tendency to cling on to the parent.So let him take those stairs or last few steps before he reaches the gate.

3. Light Breakfast – It is better to offer the kid items that he loves eating and always in moderation.Because of incessant crying, there might be a tendency to throw up. Also please don’t force feed. We have been on an egg and sweets breakfast for few days now.

4. Do not give in to the temptation of letting him skip school out of guilt – children will take a while to settle down and cope up with the separation anxiety. Quite a lot of times their pain makes us give in to their wishes. It is important to let them fall into the routine for faster adjustment to the new environment. Having said that, please do not send them to school if they are unwell.

5. List of items to be sent along – While different preschools have a different list of items to be packed in the school bag, it is advisable to ensure that a set of clothes, a diaper and wiping towel are kept in the bag along with water bottle. We had the advantage of food being served in the preschool – biscuits for the first few days. But if the school doesn’t provide food, please pack few dry items in the tiffin box. Keeping the bag packed the previous night helps avoiding the unnecessary rush in the morning.

6. Comfort and cuddle your child a little more – It is important that as adults we understand that the child is undergoing a lot of changes and insecurities. There’s no point in pushing him to fit in until he’s prepared. It is essential that he enjoys the process and doesn’t get scared of it. So please give him time to cope up, talk to him regularly to make him  understand that this part of the growing up process and hug & make him feel loved a little more.

7. Talk to the teachers/mentor/ Principal –  It is essential to know what the child does in school so that the parent can help the child overcome his insecurities or fears. It might be the usual crying and clinging on routine in the first week but staying informed is advisable.

8. Do not force him to make friends – Most of the children are observant by nature. While it is nice to have them introduced to each other, the tendency to force them to develop a friendship might actually backfire. So get them familiar with each other but wait for them to decide whether they like each other immediately or in due course of time.

9. Do not compare your child to anyone else – Statements like “X doesn’t cry to school or X already has so many friends or X is such a good boy” is definitely not going to help. Every child has a different coping mechanism and pushing him to be someone else can only adversely affect his understanding of the situation.

I am sure that with a lot of patience, love and understanding, as parents we have the ability to make this an enjoyable and seamless transition for our kids.

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Who am I? An erstwhile banker turned blogger/writer/author. Any qualifications? A Post-Graduate degree in Chemistry followed by a second Post-Graduate Diploma in Management. I completed a one-year MFA in creative writing course from the Writer's Village University, U.S. in Dec 2020. Though I must admit that I am still trying to figure out how and when I can connect all these dots. Have I done any real work? If two years in market research, six years in banking as a branch head, three-plus years of blogging, writing, and publishing a book can be considered as real work, then yes! Where do I live? After spending life like a nomad for sixteen years in Delhi, Bangalore & Mysore, I am back to where it all started from - Kolkata. My favorite things - Books, coffee, travel, food, and my five-year-old son. What is this blog about? Through Sonia's musings, I intend to explore writing in various genres, create social awareness, spread laughter, and give words to emotions. Anything for readers? You can check out my book 'Deal of Death' on Amazon Kindle. If you like fast-paced thrillers, this Detective fiction introducing the woman sleuth, Raya Ray could turn out to be your perfect weekend read.

19 thoughts on “Nine Lessons That I Picked Up In The First Week After My Son Started Preschool”

  1. These are some really important points for every new preschooler’s/kindergartener’s parents/guardians.

    Talking to the child well in advance really helps reduce the lengths & frequencies of meltdowns & tantrums over going to the new place. In fact, that’s pretty valid for any new or first-line situation for a kid. If you expect his/her unwillingness or fear about something that’s inevitable & equally important for his/her life say school or vaccination schedules, parents, please talk the thing out to them.

    Kids who are already communicating well with you are quite receptive about the situation of you get them used to the idea way before it happens. Even I had explained quite in detail to my then 2.3 year old daughter that I’d be going to work just like Papa hereafter. And I got her to know that I was preparing for it with interviews. So finally, she was prepared for the essential deal. I explained to her in my best possible way that it would make all of us feel good though it may seem a bit difficult to start with.

    And I really like the way you elucidated how walking the kid to the school helps over carrying him/her. Walking children to places as long as they’re not strenuous makes them feel prepared for many things in the long run. Especially when we carry them to school, it’s a terrible feeling they get that we’re betraying them everyday & dumping them to a less pleasant place.

    I know that from my experience as a toddler!

    Great post as usual, Sonia!☺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My daughter started going to daycare when she was 7 months old and next year she’ll start going to school. What can I say even though she seems adjusted and happy, I still feel very bad leaving her every morning. But what has to be done has to be done, right? Of course, your tips will come in handy when I change her daycare when she starts going to school. So thanks for these and hugs because I know it’s never easy leaving your little one somewhere else even in school.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing such insightful information. It is difficult to let go of your child, but things such as these become inevitable. I hope your toddler gets adjusted. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I wonder who learns more in this process of weaning away from the family – parent or child? I’ve done this for both my girls and my three grandchildren too. I always find that the children are more willing to leave rather than the other way round….. But what a wonderful journey you are embarking on…. seeing your little one blossom into a wonderful adult. There can be no greater thrill than that. Enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very good points. Each child is different. My daughter loved school and from day 1 she was fine. My son took 2 months to settle. In NZ kids start kindy when they are 3.5 years old. I think in India we start them too young.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can totally feel you, although from a standpoint of a preschool teacher. 🙂 I know how difficult it is for a child to transition from being stay-at-home to being an actual preschooler. The schedule and environment change can be really overwhelming. The suggestions that you mentioned are really good. And they do work! 🙂
    I would also like to point out that trusting your child’s teacher is also important (and effective way) to keep yourself sane through this transition period. And once you show that you trust the teacher, your child will also feel the same way. And hopefully from there, it’s gonna be smooth sailing. Enjoy preschool!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Firstly, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. It feels good to know that the suggestions are useful, specially when it comes from a teacher. And I completely agree with you that trusting the teacher is an absolute must. My son had two teachers in his class and eventually he has become very attached to one of them, so much so that he keeps asking about her over the weekend when there’s no school.


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