Calm those First-Day-of-School Jitters: Tips for Preparing Your Child for Preschool Early Learning

Early Learning Experts from Metropolitan Family Services Share Strategies for Success

Preschool is an important first step in a child’s education, providing a critical foundation to academic success later on. However, that first day of school can be filled with mixed emotions ranging from anticipation to anxiety. Here are some tips to help your child’s first day of preschool go smoothly.

  • Visit the school ahead of time. Remove the fear of the unknown by arranging a visit to school before that first day rolls around so your child will be familiar with his teacher and classroom. Also, set a play date with a classmate in the neighborhood so your child will recognize a familiar face on that first day.
  • Talk to your child about what to expect at school. Let her know that she will be expected to share, follow the rules and do things by herself, such as take off her jacket and hang it in a cubbie. You can practice these things at home so she is prepared.
  • Follow set morning and evening routines. A couple of weeks before school starts begin waking your child up earlier and putting him to bed sooner so he can get accustomed to the new routine. You want to be sure he has enough time to get ready in the mornings and that he gets enough sleep at night.
  • Prepare your child for the separation. Explain to your child that you (or whomever you designate) will drop her off at school and then be back to get her after school is over. Rehearse this by arranging for her to play at a friend’s or family member’s house.
  • Above all, have patience. As that first day approaches, your child may act out or begin to regress in behavior. Be patient and reassuring, and understand that he is just feeling a little apprehensive about the new adventure of preschool.

“There are plenty of good books and children’s videos about that first day of school that you can read or watch with your child in the weeks before school starts,” says Metropolitan Family Services Chicago Early Childhood Director Jennifer Alexander. “While it’s good to talk to your child about school and prepare her, try not to focus on it too much so your child won’t begin to worry about the big day.”

For nearly 20 years, Metropolitan has provided high-quality early childhood services for Chicago-area children. With programs serving communities on Chicago’s Northwest, South and Southwest sides, as well as throughout DuPage County, Metropolitan’s early learning services provide a significant steppingstone in the academic, social and cultural growth of more than 900 Chicago-area children each year.

This summer, children at Metropolitan’s newest early learning program serving Englewood and New City were treated to a special visit from former President Bill Clinton and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And recently, Mayor Emanuel and Metropolitan Family Services President and CEO Ric Estrada announced a new early learning center will be built in the Gage Park neighborhood. The center will serve families in Brighton Park, Chicago Lawn and Gage Park, which rank 1st, 4th and 7th in the city in need of early learning programs.

Metropolitan’s early learning programs are open to families who meet income and eligibility requirements. Enrollment currently is underway at these locations:

Southwest Side

Midway Head Start
6422 S. Kedzie Ave.
Serves 3-5 years
773-884-2400

Midway Children’s Center
3215 W. 63rd St.
Serves children 2-5 years
773-884-2350

South Side (New City, Englewood and West Englewood)

Learning and Wellness Center
5338 S. Loomis Ave.
Serves children 6 weeks – 5 years
Home visiting programs also offered for moms & expectant moms
773-535-0101

Northwest Side

North Children’s Center
3255 N. Central Ave.
Serves children 2-5 years
773-371-3770

DuPage Early Head Start and Head Start Programs

School- and community -based programs throughout DuPage County
Multiple Locations
Serves children birth – 5 years
630-784-4801

About Metropolitan Family Services and its Early Learning Services
Metropolitan Family Services has been empowering families to reach their greatest potential since 1857, serving more than 63,000 families and individuals in Chicago, Suburban Cook and DuPage County last year. Metropolitan has provided quality early childhood services for 18 years. Other Chicago early childhood sites include the Midway Head Start and Midway Children’s Center on the Southwest Side, and the North Children’s Center on the Northwest Side, which serve 241 children. In 2012, Metropolitan became DuPage County’s lead Head Start/Early Head Start agency, extending its reach to more than 600 children and their families. All Chicago programs are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and all services meet Illinois Early Learning and Head Start performance standards.