Is Your Child Emotionally Ready for Preschool?

Remember how you felt on those August days, as the summer was ending and the new school year was fast approaching? Not much has changed!

Most children express some degree of nervousness as they enter a new school setting for the first time. That can be especially true for very young children who are starting preschool and may be away from home for the first time. But for many kids, starting school can be very anxious time—even more so than usual. In addition to the emotional strain that comes with increased anxiety, studies show children who report higher levels of anxiety might also be more likely to struggle in their school work.

 

Help Your Child Start School Happy and Healthy

The team of Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants at Unison Health have some tips to help your child face the new school year with a healthier, happier outlook.

1. Talk to your child about going to school. For many children, the anxiety about starting preschool is simply a fear of the unknown. While many young kids are excited about the idea of starting school, others might experience separation anxiety. Talk to your child about what they can expect from their teachers, and give them the idea that they’ll be making a lot of new friends. In addition, help them understand that there will be rules they will be expected to follow as well as expectations about how they’ll behave.
2. Take your child to their new school before school starts. This is an opportunity for your child to meet their teacher, see the environment and possibly meet other kids. Letting them see their new surroundings will help them picture it in their minds as the big day approaches—and that can often help them face school with a better attitude.
3. Develop a morning and bedtime routine. Children are more likely to adapt to a new setting if it becomes part of an overall routine. Start by not only establishing a consistent bedtime, but also wake them up at the same time every morning. You can also minimize morning conflict by preparing your child’s clothes and giving him or her their bath (if appropriate) the night before. Also, if you’re not already, be sure to provide your child with nutritional meals and snacks and beverages—this is not just a good idea in general, but it will also help prepare them for the kind of food they’ll be getting at their preschool (hopefully).
4. Review each day of school and prepare them for the next day. By talking to your child about their day, you’ll have a chance to reinforce the new normal in their mind. Listen closely for any opportunity to praise their successes. This gets them looking forward to repeating good behavior the next day. Similarly, be ready to validate any concerns they might have and talk with them about ways they can problem solve on their own.

Unison Health Offers Early Childhood Mental Health Therapy and Intervention

Sometimes a child’s anxiety can go far beyond the standard back-to-school jitters. If your child’s behavior is causing you serious concern—if they cannot be calmed or if their anxiety lasts long into the school year—he or she may need extra help from a professional who understands a child’s behavioral needs. Unison Health offers Early Childhood Mental Health Therapy and Intervention for children ages 0-5 living in Lucas, Sandusky and Seneca counties. More information about this program is available on our Integrated Child and Family Services page or by calling 419.693.0631.