Some children are naturally more outgoing than others, just like some adults are naturally more outgoing than others. If you have a particularly shy child, then you might be a little apprehensive about sending them off to preschool, where they will have to interact not only with numerous other children, but also with teachers who they do not yet know.
Some parents with really shy children do opt to keep them home for another year, or even to skip preschool. This can be a reasonable approach, but it's not always the best choice. It can be really beneficial for shy children to learn how to navigate preschool, and there are a lot of things you can do as a parent to make that navigation easier and more manageable.
1. Meet the teachers first.
Before preschool begins, take your child in to meet their teacher or teachers. Try to set this up so that you and your child are the only other ones there with the teacher. Being able to interact with the teacher in a one-on-one setting can make things more comfortable. When school starts, your child will at least be familiar with and comfortable with the adults in the room, so they won't feel so alone.
2. Set up play dates with kids.
Once school starts and you get to know some of the other parents with children in the preschool class, go out of your way to set up play dates. If your child is able to interact with one or two kids at a time, outside of the busy school environment, they will have an easier time forming friendships that they can take back to the classroom.
3. Start slow, if needed.
If your child seems overwhelmed by the idea of preschool, you do not have to go all-in. Have them attend just once or twice per week for a while. Or have them go just in the mornings. Most preschools are flexible and will work with you if your child benefits from a modified schedule. As they grow more comfortable, you can start having them attend more often.
4. Give them conversation tips.
Teach your child how to approach others and start conversations. Give them direct lines they can use when speaking with other kids in their class, such as "Hi, my name is __. What's yours?" and "Do you want to play __ with me?" This can open the door to a lot of friendships if your child simply knows what words to say.
Preschool can be a little intimidating for shy kids, but most adapt within a couple of months, learning social skills that help them break out of their shells later on. For more information, contact a preschool program for toddlers in your area.