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Preparing for preschool takes a lot of practice

Last week, we started our daughter in three-day, 3-year-old preschool. It wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought it would be. But, we practiced … a lot. Our daughter has been “going to preschool” for a long time. Never mind the fact she had previously declared the small popup tent in our basement filled with stuffed animals her “school.”

On the night before she started, as she was lying in bed, our daughter was very restless. “Is there something wrong?” said my wife.

“I’m nervous,” said our daughter.

Wow. I didn’t expect that to come from her mouth. Could she sense we were nervous for her? We had intentionally tried to make going to school a positive experience and wanted to control our emotions so that she would not mirror our anxiety. We wanted to make her feel special and celebrated her “being a big girl.” Luckily, she woke up the next morning bright-eyed and excited. There was no need for tears as they had been shed the night before, after she was asleep.

When we first decided to send her to preschool, we purposely made sure to tell her what would be happening. At her school, a staff member walks her into her classroom from the carpool area. This is no big deal for her, as she had been role-playing this transition every day at home for weeks as she would enter her tent.

We try to encourage her to explore new opportunities and meet people from different backgrounds. Apparently one of the other children brought hard-boiled eggs for the entire class on Friday to eat for a snack. Our daughter thought that was so strange, since she had never had one. “Mommy!-Daddy!” (she says both of our names together and quickly when she’s really excited), “they gave me a white egg!” Giggling, my wife said, “Did you eat it?” Her answer, “No, I just licked it.” At least she is trying new things!

In an effort to make her first day special, we gave her a locket with a picture of our family. If she feels homesick, she can look at the locket and remember the people who love her most. At preschool, it is our hope that our daughter will have fun, grow to love learning, and show empathy and kindness toward her peers.

How do you prepare your little one for the first day of school?

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About Dr. Justin Morgan, Bundoo Pediatrician

Justin Morgan, MD, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician who practices general pediatrics in Louisville, Kentucky. He cares for children of all ages.

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