Dear Parent, From a Teacher: 8 Ways to Prep Your Child for Their First Preschool Dropoff

As published on Jacksonville Mom, August 2, 2021

As a mom preparing to send your little one to school for the first time, you’ve probably purchased a tiny backpack, labeled water bottles, and scoured Pinterest for lunch ideas. Now that you’ve checked off supply lists, your thoughts might be shifting to the quickly approaching first day of preschool. In particular, the dreaded dropoff!

I still remember taking my son to school for the first time more than 15 years ago. I was a ball of nerves and cried in my car after waving goodbye to my timid child. I’ve been there, Mama. I know it’s hard! After 13 years of teaching children aged 3 and under, I want to share some tips for a smooth transition that I wish I knew then.

Make a photo book

Ask your child’s teacher if they will share his/her photo and any classroom pictures prior to school starting. Create a picture book so your child can begin to put a face with a name and recognize his/her new surroundings. In addition to homemade picture books, utilize Amazon or the local library to read age-appropriate books with your child about preschool.

Visit the school before the first day

Take advantage of Meet Your Teacher or play days at school during the summer. If school is close to home, drive by and excitedly tell your child that’s where they are going to learn, play and meet new friends!

Schedule summer play dates

Socialization with similarly aged children will help to prepare your child for the bustling classroom they will soon encounter. Places like Bay & BeeGreenhouse Playhouse, and My Gym are great options for meeting friends and beating the summer heat!

Have time apart

Now is the time to indulge in that long-overdue date or girls’ night out. Leaving your child with a family member or trusted sitter will acclimate children to being away from you.

Understand the dropoff process and daily schedule

Don’t be shy about asking about dropoff protocols and the daily schedule. Knowing this in advance can help you prepare your child (and you) about what is to come.

Consider bringing a transitional item

Allowing your child to bring their favorite lovey or blanket is a great comfort at the start of school. If they are not attached to a physical item, drawing a smiley face or putting a lipstick kiss on their hand will help them remember you while away.

Reassure your child and stay positive

Let your child know that you understand they may feel scared and/or nervous about going to school. Big feelings are okay and normal! Reassure your child that school is fun and mommy will always come back. While you may be just as nervous as your child, try to remain upbeat and excited when talking to them about what to expect.

Trust your child!

Your sweet little one is ready to spread his/her wings. They’ve got this. And so do you!

Our “Dear Parent, From a Teacher” series helps parents obtain the tools and insight to ensure a successful school year for their children. If you are a teacher who wishes to write a guest blog for this series, please email your topic to [email protected]

About the Author

Jacksonville native Alli Heim teaches the sweetest group of two- and three-year-olds at Episcopal School of Jacksonville – St. Mark’s Campus. Mom to two adult children and doting grandmother to one 5-year-old girl, she is no stranger to the ups and downs of motherhood!