- I’m a former preschool teacher and a parent and know that kids are very adaptable.
- Tears at drop-off are normal but stop pretty quickly after you leave.
- Preschoolers love their hands, which means, yes, they will get sick often.
As a former preschool teacher, there are so many things I want to tell you about your kids. They are brilliant, but most importantly, they are adaptable.
Teaching preschool-aged children was one of the best things I’ve ever done with my life — and as I watched those emotional goodbyes on the first day of school, I wished that the parents knew what I did.
They are just fine after you drop them off
There will inevitably be tears when you leave your child for the first time. This is normal. But as soon as you leave their line of sight, I promise that they’re OK. There might be some sniffles, but if there’s one thing preschool teachers excel at, it’s the art of distraction.
A preschool classroom is brimming with toys and activities, and it won’t take long for them to get sidetracked. In a preschool setting, children can roam independently, and it’s always a joy to see what they are drawn to first. Maybe they’ll team up with a new friend and build with blocks.
A gentle hand is all they need to get acclimated to their new setting. And as the days go by, drop-off will become easier — for both of you.
They are just figuring out who they are
Think of preschoolers as a blank slate. For many, this is their first big experience away from home. As they learn to navigate their new surroundings, they are soaking up everything and learning the basics of friendships, conflict resolution, cooperative play, and more. This is a time for them to blossom. And they do. They come home talking about new things and proof of all the activities they participated in that day — glittery clothes, paint-stained hands, sticky faces, and palpable excitement.
They are going to be exposed to germs, but that’s OK
Preschoolers love to use their hands. Unfortunately, those hands sometimes end up in their mouths. But all the sanitizing and handwashing in the world won’t keep them from getting sick. In fact, my kids were never as sick as when they first started preschool. This was their first time in a group environment, which means an added risk of being exposed to germs. Their little bodies are slowly building up immunity and, in time, they will be healthier than ever.
No matter what you pack for lunch, they’ll always want what someone else is having
Parents have the best intentions when it comes to packing lunches for their preschoolers. I’ve seen some pretty elaborate lunches — couscous and veggies, sliced deli meats and cheese on individual skewers, and tropical fruit salads.
It doesn’t matter what you pack, they will want something else. And that something is whatever the person next to them is having. Don’t take it personally. Lunch is a difficult time, most kids are hungry — and also ready for a nap — but too amped up to sit down for long because they can’t wait to get on the playground. But rest assured, we make sure their tummies are full, even if that means helping them take a few bites.
You’ll miss preschool a lot once grade school starts
Preschool is such a simple, happy time in a child’s life. There’s not a care in the world. No homework, no responsibilities, just the opportunity to learn through play.
Once grade school starts, academics are pushed to the forefront. As a parent, you’ll be monitoring their progress and helping with homework, in addition to carting them to various extracurricular activities. It’s a dizzying mental load. Preschool might seem hectic, but trust me, you’ll miss it once it’s gone.
Ultimately parents grow with their children. And preschool is one of the biggest stages of growth for both of you. Be as gentle with yourself as teachers are with your children. We promise that your kids are just fine.
Christina Montoya Fiedler is a Los Angeles-based freelancer with over 15 years of experience writing for parenting publications. Her work can be seen in USA Today, Yahoo News, Good Housekeeping, Parents, and more. She obtained her journalism degree from Chapman University and studied early childhood development at Santa Monica City College.