7 Things No One Told You About Preschool (page 2)
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A lot of the most memorable moments for kids are "I have no idea what I'm doing" moments for parents. Take preschool, for example. If you've never put a child in preschool or pre-kindergarten, you probably look every bit as nervous as your little one on that first day. Only time will tell how your kid does with his first taste of education; as for now, you can prep yourself by learning some of the stuff that only time-tested parents already know about preschool. By the time Back to School pictures come around, you'll be an old pro.
You have to register early. Don't make the mistake of thinking you have all summer to register your child for daycare. Most registration periods happen before the summer so the teacher has time to buy supplies and get set up. Ask around to some of the parents near you and you'll probably find that it's best to get registered in May. That way, you're not left completely preschool-less when the fall rolls around. As an added bonus, the earlier you register, the more time you and your little one have to get to know the new teacher, which can help calm any first day jitters ... for both of you.
Preschool is not daycare. Hey, we get that you might be a little overjoyed at the thought of two or three hours to yourself, courtesy of your child's preschool teacher. But don't make the mistake of thinking that a preschool teacher is just a glorified babysitter. Your little one is learning about social activities, learning the basics of education and artistic expression and learning to do things for himself at preschool—skills that a daycare probably wouldn't provide.
Your child is no longer the center of the universe. At home, your little guy is the center of pretty much everything. After all, he's the smartest, most charming, funniest and sweetest child ever, right? Well, here's the thing about preschool: It can be a rude awakening that your child isn't the center of everyone's universe. Don't expect special treatment from the preschool teacher and keep in mind that every other parent thinks their child is numbero uno.
Your child will change. Teacher and educational psychologist Jennifer Little warns that your child might be a little different after a month or two of preschool. "The biggest problem I've seen is that parents don't know what their child has to do in preschool and how the child will be changed by those experiences. They don't realize how the dynamics of a group of children change every child's behavior, how they learn directly and indirectly from others, (and some influences they aren't going to be happy with) or how structured preschool has to be. Safety and routine dictate what happens and when." Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, preschool causes your child to come home a little bit changed every day.
Preschool isn't really about academics. Don't sweat it if, after a few months of preschool, your child doesn't suddenly blossom into a tiny genius. The truth is that while most preschools offer academic lessons, the end goal isn't to get your child ready for the SATs. Instead, preschool is about learning to socialize, take directions, spend time with people outside of the house and get ready for kindergarten.
Comparing helps no one. Every preschool parent has been attacked by the green-eyed monster at least once or twice. Whether it's a freakishly smart kid who can recite all the U.S. presidents, a gorgeous little girl with bouncy curls or a child that has amazing artistic ability right off the bat, you can't help but compare your little one with the other kids in class. But while you can't help yourself from peeking at another child's paper, make sure you don't use it as a measuring stick for your own kid. Preschool students are at different social and academic levels and it's unfair to make your child go head-to-head with anyone else.
It's not the end of the road. Is your child the one kicking and screaming as you drop him off to school? Clinical psychologist Mark McKee tells parents not to sweat it. "A child that hates preschool may end up loving and excelling in school later on," he says. Take a deep breath and remember that the more your child goes to preschool, the less of a fight it will become.
So, you've got pencils, crayons and construction paper for your child to take to school, but don't forget the good attitude you'll need to bring along. Watching your child make the leap from "Center of the Universe" at home to being one of a group of children might seem scary to you, but trust us when we say that he'll love it. Now ... what are you going to do with those two free hours?
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