Prepare your child
Talk to your child about the things they will be doing while at preschool. Even if your child is young, children can usually understand clear explanations. Point to the calendar and talk about what days of the week are work days for you and school days for your child. Also talk about which days are “stay home days”. Talk about whether he or she will eat or nap there. Your positive attitude and calm voice will help your child know this will be a great place to stay.
Read and look at picture books about child care
There are some great books that show and tell about a day in an early childhood center. Others deal with feelings a child might have about being away from a parent or playing with other children.
Learn about quality child care. Go online to various early childhood websites, including the Department of Human Services – Licensing Division, Think Small, or NAEYC. These sites will have information about quality, licensed centers and will also have information about what to look for and questions to ask when touring a center.
Before the first day
Visit the early childhood program with your child, so that you and your child can talk about it what you saw and what things you liked about the center. It is important that your child has a chance to spend time in the classroom, (maybe any hour, or so) prior to his or her first actual day in the room. This helps them with the transition to the new classroom and it allows them to see where they will be playing, eating, napping and having their group times. Children are social beings and they tend to make friends quickly. Once routines have been established, set up play dates with a classmate or two.
Start a regular drop-off routine
Children do best when they know what to expect. Daily family and school routines are very important. Once your child is enrolled and has started coming to school, it will help all of you to start your day smoothly if you start a regular routine with drop-off. Coming (as close as possible) at the same each day helps a child acclimate from home to school. Also, set up a good-bye routine such as three hugs and big kiss good-bye and then head out the door. The quick good-bye tends to be better for a child and helps them go off to start their day. If a parent or family member delays their departure, children have a much harder time letting go and tend to cling more to the parent instead of joining their classmates in the morning. If you stick to the quick good-bye and the routine you have established, drop-off time will, usually, go fairly smoothly!
(Portions of this information were taken from Tweedie, P.S. (1996), Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service)