Parents' Anxiety about Starting Preschool

Parent Q&A

  • Are there other parents out there who are worried about how their child's new preschool will be handling the preschool transition, given social distancing guidelines? Our child's preschool, which we enrolled him in many months ago, is being fastidious about keeping class size small, having teachers wear masks, sanitizing, etc. My anxiety is *not due to concern about infection*. 

    I'm anxious about how my son will react to being dropped off at a school where all the adults are wearing masks, where they may not allow me or his father to enter the room, let alone stay for a few hours, and where the caregivers may not be physically comforting distressed children, and where children will be encouraged to keep a distance from one another. This all sounds really dystopic to me and I'm worried about how my son will be able to adjust to this kind of situation. 

    I'm having the same anxities. The transition is hard no matter what, but is definitely heightened now. It might be worth getting some pictures of the preschool teachers with masks on and off and having him learn their names, and also to have your kid see you wear a mask regularly so it seems normal. Oof.

    Hi! My daughter is 2.5 and returned to preschool a couple months ago (when they opened).  I had similar concerns - not about contracting the virus but the new "norm".  I'll be honest, I haven't noticed a difference with her at all.  The preschool teachers are so caring and she loves the outside playtime and interaction with other children.  It's amazing how resilient children are. However, note that kids usually have a hard time with the preschool transition in general.  It took my daughter about a week so that is normal and shouldn't be confused with the whole mask thing.   

    Hi! I am actually in the exact situation that you are in. I plan on moving our child to the waitlist and reevaluate closer to January. My child has only been cared for at home, so I had the very very exact concerns you do. Aside from those concerns, something else I kept in mind was how the school responded to initial closures and how they handled tuition. My particular school had interactive zoom meetings and YouTube videos of teacher doing lessons, and asked parents to continue paying tuition with different tiers depending on your situation (although the tuition being asked was still significant). All of this might sound great...if you had an older child but for 2s-3s with short attention spans, it does not seem worth the tuition they are asking. With the current raise in Covid cases and the predicted surge during flu season, I feel like we’re looking at another school closures.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

related page: Adjusting to Preschool

April 2004

For many, many months now, I've been excited about my one and only starting preschool. She'll be 2 years + 5 months old when she starts in June (3 full days a week). I have no doubts about the school we've chosen for her and the care she will receive there.

But now that I've actually submitted the application and deposit, I'm having all sorts of anxiety and fears!! Any advice from you parents out there about how to deal with this? I'm fretting over things like will the teacher comfort her when she cries? What if she doesn't eat her lunch? Will she go hungry all day? Who's going to watch her on the playground?

Please, no suggestions about delaying preschool (currently she watches a lot of videos all day with her grandparents). I just need advice about how to deal with my neurosis and what would help *ME* adjust!

Nervous Mama

From my experience with my now 3 1/2 year daughter, you couldn't have picked a better age to start your child in preschool. Right at 2 1/2 my daughter went through a huge developmental leap that required her to interact independantly with other kids and adults. I am a stay at home Mom and I never would have guessed how much being away with others would be critical at that age. As for your concerns about her eating or playground supervision, I found that my daughter is much more self sufficient in a preschool situation than she ever is/was at home. She eats, naps, plays safely, plays nicely etc. far more than when I am there to watch her. Your best reassurance will come when your daughter LOVES her new school - There may be an ajustment period when she cries when she is left, etc. but I don't know any kids that ultimately didn't love playing with other kids in a structured environment. It will be a wonderful alternative to grandma's for her. Congratulations for finding a school that you have so much confidence in and giving your daughter this opportunity. jac

I could have written your post! Our son, 2 yrs and 5 mos, is starting preschool next week for 2 half-days a week. I am feeling very anxious as well. Is it possible for your daughter to start with half-days (you mentioned that she's with her grandparents during the day now-- could they continue to babysit in the afternoons?)? I guess I am preparing myself by accepting the fact that there will be an adjustment period (up to 2 months, maybe?) and that I will probably leave him there in tears every morning for awhile. Ugh, it sounds horrible. And then also, I think of the babies and 1-year-olds and 2-year-olds that spend hours away from their parents and actually love their daycares, preschools and teachers. That's what I'm hoping for. I can't wait the read the other responses to your post! anon

After lots of work to attend open houses, think about what would be best for my child, what to apply to, applications, hoping that we would have at least some options, I ended up feeling quite ambivalent, not necessarily anxious about my daughter going to preschool. For me, I decided, it was 2 things. First, a feeling of being a little bit sad that my child is growing up, into this next phase... some sadness for her babyhood. She is currently in childcare 4 days a week so it wasn't separation from me, just an end of a phase of life.... Secondly, a bit of a let down, that after all that work, I wasn't totally thrilled with the options. Maybe these same things are leading to your concern? Margaret