A Conversation with Michelle Borba: Back-to-School Tips for Families and Siblings

Eliza Clark
August 30, 2010

We recently had the chance to speak with parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba about how to make the back-to-school transition as smooth as possible for preschoolers and their families. Many of our readers are right on the cusp of this exciting milestone, and we think Dr. Borba's ideas will be helpful on lots of counts.

Here are her top ten ideas for getting the little ones ready for preschool:

  1. Don't over-hype the transition with your child. Talking about it too much can cause anxiety and create outsized expectations.
  2. Go see the school together in order to give your child an image of the place.
  3. Find one buddy in the classroom prior to starting school. A familiar face can make a huge difference.
  4. Practice separating from your child.
  5. Explain to your child what will happen during the day at preschool.  In particular, tell him what will happen first, so that he will know what to do upon entering the classroom.
  6. Give your child a watch and mark the school's dismissal time on the watch face so that she can see how much longer there is to go.
  7. Give your child a token from home to bring with him to school: a "magic pebble," a blankie in the backpack, etc.
  8. Prepare a ritual for saying goodbye: a rhyme or secret code, a special squeeze or kiss.
  9. Don't linger at drop-off.  Say goodbye and leave.
  10. Be on time for pick-up!

We also asked Dr. Borba about how to prepare siblings who have spent a long, fun summer together for the separation from each other that the school year inevitably brings.  The toddlers who are left at home when their big sister or brother marches off to school are in for a big change too!  Dr. Borba suggested explaining where the beloved sibling is going, and when she'll be back.  She also urged that toddlers also benefit from little outings, playdates and routines.  Storytime at the library or meeting a friend at the park can make the littlest member of the family feel special too.  And be sure to give the sibs plenty of playtime together after school.

Finally, Dr. Borba advised parents that the preschool years are the time to start saving for college. The UPromise program and credit card are smart ways to save while shopping for gas, groceries, clothes, back-to-school supplies and other necessaries. Find out more at www.UPromise.com.

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