Preparing your child (and yourself) for preschool


September is approaching and your child’s first day of preschool is only a few weeks away. If your child has never been away from you and from home for several hours at a time on a consistent basis, you may worry about her adaptation to the big change about to occur. Will she like it? Will he be OK without me? Will he make friends? Will she follow the teacher’s instructions and behave appropriately? Will the teachers pay enough attention to her? Will he feel abandoned? Did I choose the right school? And you can keep going with questions of your own.

The first big task of a new preschooler is mastering separation (see our article on Separation under Common Parenting Concerns). And, in parallel process, it is also the biggest task for the preschooler’s parents. Everyone can feel a little worried as they are facing this big milestone. Separation is an ongoing process that manifests differently at different stages of development and in different contexts. There is a huge range in the way that individual children and parents experience separation.   The good news, however, is that most kids do adjust well to preschool and feel happy there, even those who have a harder time in the beginning.

Toward the end of September we will post thoughts and tips to help if your child is struggling with separating during the early weeks of preschool. In the meantime, you may find some ideas and practical advice for getting your child ready for the transition to the world of “big kids” in the following article published by Zero to Three”. As you think about how to help your child, you will also be preparing yourself to entrust your child to the care of a new set of adults and a whole new community.

Bear in mind that preschoolers have a limited sense of time and sequencing and therefore it is wise to not start talking about school too early. This article suggests two weeks prior, but for some children one week is enough. Do not overwhelm your child with too much information all at once, but rather present it gradually in manageable units.

Please note that tips present practical advice that parents can try, but they are not a prescription for the “right way” to prepare your child. Only implement the tips that you feel will help you and your child. If you try something that feels uncomfortable, drop it. And allow yourself to adapt, improvise, and elaborate on these tips in your own personal way.

If you think that you and your child need or could benefit from individualized help in preparing for school, please call us at 646-864-4270 or email us at

5 thoughts on “Preparing your child (and yourself) for preschool

  1. Faylinn says:

    My son is starting preschool in September and he is so excited! Education is very important to me and so I really want him to go into it confident. However, if he does have separation issues, then I will definitely come back to this site and see what advice you have for me then. Yet, is there anything that parents can do before taking their child to school that can help them to have confidence and not have anxiety?

    • Joan Musitano says:

      Dear Faylinn,
      Thank you for your comment and question. We posted a tip called “Helping your child separate and say goodbye at pre-school” in September, 2015. Did you read it? If not, I suggest that you read it and then get back to us if you have more specific questions and concerns.
      Joan Musitano

  2. Lillian Schaeffer says:

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that most children deal well with separation at preschool. My daughter is going to be going to preschool this fall, and I’ve been worried about her because she’s definitely a homebody. I’ll take comfort in the fact that most children do well, and hopefully the process will be a smooth one. Thanks for the great post!

    • Joan Musitano says:

      Dear Lillian, thank you for your comment! If you need any extra help in the fall, please contact us. Some children need an individualized approach to separation. We help parents figure out a separation routine that is tailored to the unique style and temperament of their child. Best of luck, Joan Musitano

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