The BIG Day!

Yay you! You did your research, made your spread sheet, and finally got the call that you are in! The perfect school has a spot for you because you took my advice and got on that waitlist!

Now I am going to let you in on the drop off secrets you wish you knew. This is advice I give to parents who are new to our school and those who use this advice have the easiest drop off ever!

It’s also not just about your child. You’ll likely be hauling a backpack, jacket, and maybe a lunch box. Losing those things is a pain in the rear! LABEL EVERYTHING! We all shop at that same amazing wonderland with the red bull’s eye and chances are you’ll see a lot of coats and lunch boxes that look just like the one you picked out. A bright label will not only save you from  accidentally taking home the wrong things, but it will also make those items super easy for your child to find. If you click here, you can find all sorts of options from different sellers. So many cute patterns. How does one choose???

You’ll be nervous. That’s normal and there is a school of thought in pre-school that it’s a harder adjustment for the parent than it is for the child. Try a few of these things to make the transition into school an easy one for your child and…ahem…you.

  • Talk school up! Make it a sound like a huge accomplishment. “Big kids get to go to school and you’re getting so big! How exciting! You’re going to learn so many things and make so many friends!” All that positive talk will work on your child and yourself!
  • Tell them what to expect. Don’t drop and dash. Let them know they will be dropped off. Preschool is for kiddos, but mom/dad always come back to pick them up. If you know the routine, tell them. For really nervous kiddos, make a picture chart of what the day looks like and let them know which picture means pick-up time is close.
  • If the school allows, plan a few visits. Our school allows new families to visit and walk the grounds so the child is used to the new surroundings.
  • Make drop off brief. You’ll want to linger. If your child is nervous you’ll be reluctant to leave. The truth is that it actually makes it harder on the child when you stick around. A quick hug, kiss, and “I’ll be back when school is over” is the best method. Even if your child is wrapped around your legs and screaming, prolonging the drop off process will only make it worse. Rough drop off’s are nothing new to seasoned teachers so please don’t worry about them. And your child WILL BE FINE. Crying is usually over by the time you get to your car because the new and amazing teacher you chose is a master at engaging her students and distracting them!
  • Consistency is key! Make drop off a part of your routine and try to stick as close as possible to that routine. Considering you have a tiny person in the mix, I know this is easier said than done, but stay as close as possible.
  • Is your child potty trained? Have them use the bathroom before you leave or as soon as you get to school. In diapers? Change them before you go in. One less thing for them (and you) to worry about when they want to start their day.

Let me add this in for drop off and pick up: Hand Washing! Your child will become a cootie catcher as soon as they start school. This you can’t avoid, but a quick scrub with soap and water will lessen their chances of spreading something to their friends or bringing some nifty germs home to you. 

So, backpacks and belongings are labeled, a kiss and a hug have been given, and you kept your drop off short and sweet. Now what? You haven’t had spare time in a couple of years. What does one do with free time?

See those toes? I bet your nail tech would love to get her hands on em. Starbucks probably misses you going in and using them for their free wifi. Home Depot or Target completely alone. Heaven, Oh, and the gym….nah. We won’t talk about that.

Good luck. You’ll do just fine. You’re so grown up and I am so proud of you!kids.jpeg

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Is it time for Preschool?

You’re at the gym picking up little Timmy from the free childcare and before you can get near him you see something that makes your heart stop. He just smacked another kid and took his toy truck. Don’t panic! Do what you’ve been meaning to do for months- enroll him in preschool!

Easier said than done? Yes and no. Choosing a school is a process and it’s definitely not a one size fits all scenario.

First step: Make a list of what you want your child to gain from the experience. Is your child shy? Are you hoping they will make friends and break out of their shell a little? Or do you have an active learner who bounces from place to place and needs a little structure? There are programs and philosophies to suit just about any kiddos needs.

You’re a parent of a small child and research can take hours. Nobody has time for that! Luckily, PBS did some of the work for you!

 

Second step: Now that you have narrowed down your “must haves” and have chosen a philosophy, you can begin to research schools. My best bit of advice? Ask your tribe.  Reaching out to friends or posting to social media to see who sends their kids where is the best way to get recommendations with unbiased reviews. Trust me. The school I work for has stayed in business since 1961 on word of mouth recommendations only.

Once you get a few names you’ll want to call and see what their tour policy is. Ask to tour during normal class time. Touring during lunch or nap won’t give you the “feel” of how the class operates, but a class time tour will be very insightful.

This is a link to a super professional early ed organization that has done hours of research for you but I encourage you to investigate on a local level and see where your neighbors and friends have sent their children.

Third Step: Make a list of questions. I tour parents on a daily basis and something in the mind goes blank when they see all of the adorable faces smiling at them and having such a good time in preschool. If you’re armed with a list of questions you wont get sidelined by all the cuteness. (It happens to the best of us!)

If you are strictly there to observe and the school’s policy is to not disrupt what’s happening in class, ask for a point of contact that can answer those questions. Usually the teacher will have an email address to offer, or the school admins can help with questions.

This is the short list of questions to ask:

  • What is the illness/vacation policy?
  • What are class ratios and sizes?
  • What is the discipline policy?
  • What does the class routine look like?
  • If they provide snack can you review the menu?
  • Do they require a two week before you can leave the school?
  • Are the staff trained in CPR/First Aid and back ground checked?
  • How much parental involvement do they want? 
  • Is there an open door policy for parents?
  • How is information shared and how will you learn about your child’s day?

Side note: You’ll see I didn’t list “Teacher Education” as a question. This is a total personal opinion, but it’s much more beneficial to ask how long the teacher has been in early ed. Let’s be real- preschool teachers don’t make much and college is a luxury most can’t afford. I have a staff of 38 that I would easily call experts, but very few have 4 years and loads of debt to back that up. Most counties require teachers to obtain a certain number of continuing ed credits per year. Here in Arizona, we require 18. 

Fourth Step: Well, this isn’t so much a step as it is a suggestion. Even if you are still on the fence about a school, GET ON THE WAITLIST! No, really…I mean it. Fill out the waitlist form, pay money to the nice people, and take a business card so you can keep in touch and check your status from time to time. I can’t stress this enough. I have sent home paperwork with so many families to let them think about their choices and when they call back we no longer have a spot. This pains me so much because as a parent I remember how hard school choices can be. Registration fees are a small drop in the bucket to get into the perfect school and with schools waitlisting nearly two years out, it’s money well spent.

You have your school. You have picked out a backpack. Now what? It’s time to prepare for that first day!