Preparing a Toddler to Start Preschool
Kathy Zucker's three year old is starting preschool next week. She spent the summer preparing him for the big change from home to school.
Last May, I made a panicky phone call to my son's preschool asking what would happen if he was not potty-trained in September. They told me it was okay to have accidents but that I would have to be honest with them about his training level. I said, "I am. He's not trained at all."
Something clicked this summer and in the space of one weekend, my son was potty trained. I wish I could say I had some special trick, but all that happened was I took his diaper off and let him run around naked. He freaked out and clutched himself when he had the urge to go but made it to the potty every time.
Having a toddler going commando all summer freaked out many a guest to my house, but hey, it was effective even during the hurricane. We gradually worked our way up to potty training with pants, and then out of the house. The final stage, which will take months to master, is overnight training.
So the potty training is mercifully out of the way just in time for school. Mental preparation for starting preschool? A whole other ball of wax.
I spent the summer talking to my son about how he will be going to school with his sister. The message didn't sink in until we went back-to-school shopping, when he suddenly huddled in the fetal position on the store stairs and said, "I don't want to go to school. I'm scared."
Without missing a beat, his big sister (starting kindergarten this fall!) immediately put her arm around him and reassured him that he will really like it and all his friends will be there. However, I could tell my son was nervous until we attended preschool orientation earlier this week.
When we sat with friends from his Kidville class with older siblings who attended school with his sister, he instantly felt at home. Within half an hour, the boys were pretending to shoot each other across different rows of seats and sharing snacks, supplemented by Revolution Foods samples (cheese lasagna = yum). We met my son's preschool teacher and had a teary reunion with my daughter's instructors (don't think she understands yet that she will not have them this year).
This morning, both kids woke up bright and early and started excitedly packing their own lunches (heavy on the cheese, light on the drinks) and getting dressed in school clothes. I had to keep explaining that they don't begin school for another week, but I am really happy to see they are eager to get started.
With school supplies purchased at Target (I get extras since it is really difficult to find inexpensive toddler-sized backpacks and pencil cases out of season if one breaks or is lost) and several sizes of the school wardrobe to outfit rapidly growing toddlers, we are all set to start preschool.
Now the only things left to work out is how to transition my son from part-time to a full day and which parent is handling dropoff and pickup.