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The Seven Tips of Surviving The Transition to Pre-school (#backtoschool)

“The academic expectations for a child just beginning school are minimal. You want your child to come to preschool feeling happy, reasonably secure, and eager to explore and learn. –Bettye M. Caldwell

Our first two weeks of pre-school contained tears, a fall and an injury. It was quite traumatic. The good news is we survived and can now add those weeks to our list of family stories.
This post describes what I did to prepare our family for the transition.
When I was in high school, I recall watching an Oprah Show and hearing her say that children are just small people. That stuck with me. So, when I interact with children including my own, I generally operate under the belief that they are motivated by the same things that we are--love and fear.
As it relates to attending school, my daughter loves learning, but like most of us, fears the unknown. We tried to capitalize on her love of learning and decrease her fear. We also tried to get her excited about the opportunity.

Seven Tips of Surviving Pre-school Transition

We Chose a Familiar School: My daughter is on the young end of the pre-school spectrum. She isn't three years old yet. Because of her age and history of one-on-one care, I thought it was important to choose a location that we could visit in advance, that way she would merely view school as an extension of what she already knew.

We Chose a Neighborhood School: There are many good pre-schools in Pittsburgh.
 However, choosing the school that is right for you family depends on your situation. For us, we had been rather spoiled by having someone come to our home for two years to care for our child. It was easier on her and us. We chose a school that was in walking distance to maximize our sleep time and minimize our commute. You can see what we value as a family!
We Told Her "Her Friends" Would Be at School:  This past summer, my daughter has become a little obsessed with the concept of developing new friends. She is actually convinced that every other small person she sees is her friend. It's rather cute.
We Told Her that She Would Have Fun at School:  My daughter is kind of a good time girl, in an acceptable toddler kind of way. She lives for fun. So, every time we discussed school I sold it as more fun than the beach! (When she's I seventh grade she'll likely remind me of my deceit...)
We Appealed to What She Likes and Told Her She Would Sing and Dance at School: My daughter needs to sing and dance almost as much as she needs to breathe! She even does it when there is no external music source. When she heard that school involved singing and dancing she became intrigued.
We All Went With Her on the First Day: It was important to all of us to get a sense of what the average class day would be like. So, we all went to the pre-school orientation and went to class! That made mommy and daddy more comfortable. (However, it may have confused our daughter who believed that we would all go together every day...)
We Bought Got Her an Outfit: A colleague who raised two daughters told me that there were few things that new shoes don't solve and she's right. My daughter became really excited about the first day of school. Talking about her outfit and shoes gave her something to focus on and helped create excitement. The shoes were by Yochi Yochi. Super cute, right?! (More about the shoes in a later post!)

As you know, even with our preparation our transition to pre-school was rocky. There were protests, tears and a lot of mommy guilt. I think that moral is preparation is only half of the battle, execution is the other half. Since toddlers are just "small people" they have their own personalities and do things in their own time. Eventually, my daughter got into the swing of things and she began to love school. Now she seems secure and is definitely eager to explore and learn. And just like I suspected, she loved the friends, fun, singing, dancing and clothes. Go figure?!
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