After having my kids with me full time for their whole first set of years, preschool introduction has been smooth both times. So I’m sharing what worked for US and some other ideas.
Talk to them ahead of time. Set realistic expectations on exactly what will happen “I’ll drop you off, you will play, learn, and I’ll pick you up and you’ll tell me all about it.” Read preschool books too.
Before preschool starts, integrate activities that take place at preschool such group play dates or sports.
Tour the school with them in advanced so they are familiar with it’s surroundings. Play there together a few times if possible!
Your energy is everything. If you are worried, anxious, have fear and tension... I can guarantee they will feel it too; be cheerful, joyful, excited, confident, calm... Most times we are more worried than them, and they only know what we tell them & transmit to them, remember that.
If you have the option to choose, tour a bunch of preschools and pick one that suits YOUR child’s needs for a better integration (I did a post on how to pick one, do you want me to share?).
Remember, every kid is different, so HONOR their personality too and be okay with them being more shy or slow to warm up than others. It’s valid. And perfect.
Meet other moms and have play dates out of school hours so the kids warm up faster, if needed.
We’ve always had great quick transitions but if it’s too dramatic (and you have the option to choose an introduction schedule) I would suggest:
A) If they cry / have a hard time the WHOLE time they are there = start with less hours, and more days. Like 4-5 half days.
B) If they have a hard time at drop off but then are fine the rest of the day, start with less days more hours. Like 2-3 full days.
And you can increase hours as time goes by. Of course, not every mama can choose this as many work! Do your best.
Make sure staff are ready to help with transfer when you leave. Arriving early is always a plus for this and less stressful too. Sometimes all they need is a cuddle from a caregiver until they are ready to warm up to a group.
An older sibling at the preschool, helps a bunch too!
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