Skip to main content
Journal Kids

preparing (yourself) for pre-school…

Oh Joy

Oh Joy

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how to choose a pre-school after I had gone through the process of choosing one for my oldest (who recently graduated pre-school and starts kindergarten this fall!). My youngest, Coco, started pre-school last week. After having gone through the process with my first, I thought the start of pre-school would be easy the second time around. But, it wasn't and we are still working on getting her used to a new environment and a new schedule. Here are a few things I've learned that I thought might help some of you starting your babes at pre-school soon…

1. Don't have any expectations of how your child will respond. I seriously thought Coco would roll right into school tear-free because she's more easy-going than my more sensitive first child. But Coco still had a hard time at drop-off, and we're getting her more used to it every day.

2. Talk about school in advance, and tell them what they'll do there. Get them familiar with what happens at school and some of the activities they'll do. The mistake I made this time around was as I talked to Coco about school leading up to it, but that I forgot to mention that I would not be there. She was so excited for school to start only to realize on the first day that I was wasn't staying with her the whole time.

3. Potty train well in advanced if needed but not right before school starts. Some schools require kids to be potty-trained and some schools don't. If your goal is to get potty-trained before school starts, do it well in advanced so that by the time school starts, they have been pretty regular with the potty by then. A new environment and change can cause regression (and accidents) so the longer they've been potty trained before school begins, the less they'll regress in a new environment. And, if your school does take kids in diapers, don't rush it and let your kid start in diapers and the potty will come with time.

4. Don't carry them into school. I learned this early on that when you are getting kids acclimated to daycare or pre-school for the first time (anywhere where you are leaving them and saying good-bye), you don't want them to be in your arms and then go from that comfort hold to saying goodbye a minute later. Instead, hold their hand and walk with them to make the separation easier.

5. Make goodbyes short and sweet. As much as you want to tell them a million times how much you love them and will miss them, that only makes it worse. Give a kiss and a hug and say your goodbye once—even if there are tears. They are in good hands with their school, and they will be fine once you have left.

Every kid acclimates to school in their own way and in their own time, but it can be so hard while they are still getting used to it. If you have any of your own tips, please share below for any other parents out there!

{Photo by Casey Brodley}


  1. We loved singing “grown-ups come back” from the Daniel Tiger show. It’s a great reassurance that Mom or Dad WILL come back to pick you up and this goodbye isn’t forever!

  2. Awww, Coco is getting so big! Like Sarah above said, I remember telling Lucas that “Mama or Daddy always comes back”. Also, for Theo who is more clingy, having a very set routine helps so much. To this day we have the same routine of me reading him a short book and then him “pushing me” out (with a very exaggerated jump out the door). 🙂

  3. As a previous Lead Pre-K Teacher I have so much to share yet Joy did a great job touching on “the first day or days” or even weeks of preschool. I would add “see you later alligator.” I see staff  agree with the teacher, the parent & your child to set a timer (towards the end of class) counting the minutes when mommy or daddy will arrive. I been told to be careful how you say to your child you will be back later.
    Also, it’s okay to let your child to try and let them go through the emotions with environment. Children these days want to be heard and so parents can have a conversation about their days. I loved having a binder of each students’ first days and they love to look through their work over the course of the school year too. For parents you can create a journal with your kiddos at home too.

  4. My oldest daughter is starting preschool in September and she has fairly severe separation anxiety. We have gotten many good suggestions from friends and family
    My favorites that have been helping her be more excited about starting soon was showing her photos of the school areas,
    Her new teachers and of the outdoor playground she will get to play on. I think familiarity well in advance with the new things
    Coming up will help for more sensitive kids. We also got a book called “bye bye time” that is written for a toddler to
    Comprehend getting dropped off. Won’t know if any of this was helpful until we actually have her start, but I’m looking
    Forward to reading the other parent’s suggestions.

  5. Such good tips! We just wrapped up my son’s first year of preschool & I think the biggest lesson I learned is that there’s never a finish line or a time to wipe your hands clean & have a feeling of “ok that’s done & we’re over that.” He had good days and bad days. Some days he doesn’t care that I leave and other days he’s very upset that I’m leaving. He will tell me that he doesn’t want to go to school, and then when my husband does pickup, he won’t want to leave. Or he’d have a potty accident three days in a row after two months of no accidents. So just recently I decided to just settle into the consistency of inconsistency, if that makes sense. Im keeping my eye on the prize that preschool is an amazing gift to set him up for his life but he’s still a baby. I also think my rock-solid group of amazing moms I met there help keep it all in check. Being able to compare notes and ask advice and just have the cameraderie is golden. And to think that I didn’t know them a year ago is crazy!

  6. One thing I remember doing when I taught kindergarten was taking a picture of each child with their parent at Kinder orientation. I printed it out so that if a child was having a hard time, they could “keep their parent in their pocket.” Parents could do that ahead of time to make sure their child still feels secure throughout their first day. Another recommendation I have is reading the book, “The Kissing Hand” to prep before school starts. It helps kiddos know that their parents’ love is always with them.
    So proud of Coco and all the other littles being brave in their new classrooms!

  7. Oh my god, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher read that for the kids and parents the first morning of kindergarten and I lost my damn mind. Me and one other parent, a father, ugly crying. When we left I was like, “Why would she DO that to us, that was so mean!” LOL

  8. We’ve been playing on the new school’s playground all week and he’s now really excited about the school. I think it will take the edge off new school jitters


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Along