Carefree summers are what childhood memories are made from. We’ll all miss the days of romping in the pool, lazy schedules and eating melting ice cream under the hot summer sun. Transitioning from unscheduled days to the strict routine of the school year can be hard on kids of all ages, but it can be especially jolting for your 3 or 4-year-old as he or she goes off to preschool.
With a few tips and tricks up your sleeves, though, your toddler’s transition this September can be more of a breeze than a battle.
- Set An Example
If your toddler has watched older siblings head off to school a little jealously in previous years, you’ll have a head start. But even if it’s your first rodeo, your child has watched you get ready to leave the house her entire life.
Try introducing items for the new school year into your daily routine prior to the first day. Let your child choose her own new backpack for the school year (you can shop around for discounts), and show her that school is something to be excited about. Your toddler takes her cues about the world from you, first and foremost. If you show her that she should be excited, she’ll be much more open to the idea.
- Encourage Open Communication
Your child might talk nonstop all day to you, but how does he do with strangers? How does he manage change? Encourage your toddler to feel comfortable expressing himself to you, and to others, by talking it out in the days and weeks before school starts.
Explain to him that all the feelings that come with a new schedule and new place are normal. He might feel nervous, worried, scared or lonely, and that’s normal. Make sure he feels okay expressing his emotions verbally—even more physical needs like the potty or hunger. Verbal communication becomes all the more important when he’s surrounded by peers instead of parents.
- Start Reinforcing Bedtime Now
It’s been a lazy carefree summer, and with the sun setting later and later, you’ve likely been getting looser and looser about bedtimes. To make this transition easier for everyone, it’s time to tighten up ship before things get dire.
Take the time to enforce your child’s “school-night” bedtime now to avoid rough nights in the coming weeks. A well-rested toddler is a happier toddler.
- The Early Bird Gets the Worm
Even if you’re not the most punctual person yourself, lax schedules can cause your child a great deal of unnecessary stress. Try to make the morning of the first day of school as relaxed as possible: wake up early, share a favorite breakfast with your child, and get to school early so that she has time to settle in.
You might even want to plan on sticking around at school for a good 15-30 minutes while your toddler adjusts to her new surroundings. She’ll be more comfortable long-term at school if she knows it’s somewhere that you’re comfortable, too.
- Trust Your Toddler
Your kid will have a lot of new experiences in his or her life. Some of these transitions will be harder than others, but you can take these few simple steps to try and minimize the stress and disruption of September. Trust that your child will settle in to his or her new routine, whatever that may be. You know what’s best for your child.
The good news is, summer happens once a year—it’ll be back to carefree days and sunshine before you know it.