They grow up so fast! Your little baby may be ready for preschool before you know it. But not every child progresses at the same rate. Before you start shopping for preschools, make sure your child is ready.
Several factors play into your child’s readiness to start preschool. Because of how most preschools operate, your child must be ready to provide basic self-care (such as feeding themselves) that preschools generally won’t help with. See if your child is prepared.Is your child ready to start preschool? These factors will help you decide. Click To Tweet
By preschool age, children are expected to be mostly independent when it comes to using the bathroom. If your child knows how to properly take care of themselves and clean up, they’re probably fine. Preschools are equipped to handle accidents, but don’t expect them to potty train your child for you.
How does your child do when you’re not around? It’s completely normal for kids to cry on the first few days of preschool when you leave. However, if your child cries every time you leave and can’t seem to adjust, there’s likely a bigger problem. Separation anxiety shouldn’t cripple your child’s social life and prevent them from making friends or having fun at preschool. Try to emotionally prepare your child and get them excited about being in a new location, rather than sad at your absence.
Preschools will supervise your children closely, but your child should still know how to function on their own. Can they find ways to entertain themselves, get dressed alone, and feed themselves without help? Similar to potty training, preschools can assist with this but are not designed to do all the work for your child. See how well your child can function without intervention from an adult.
Pro Tip: Whenever your child demonstrates independence in a task (such as putting their toys away on their own), congratulate and reward them. This will encourage them to develop this skill for preschool and beyond.
Communication is just as critical for children as for adults. Make sure your child has a clear, comfortable method to express themselves to others. Depending on their needs or preferences, this could be vocal, sign language, through technology, or even written or drawn. Whatever the method, make sure you understand your child and let the preschool staff know how your child will express themselves.
Dramatic Change of Setting
For most kids, especially an only child, preschool marks a pretty drastic change in their daily lives. Not only are they now constantly surrounded by other kids in a classroom setting, but they’re also expected to keep to a defined schedule and listen to adults other than their parents. This transition may prove too difficult for some children who are used to a more relaxed home setting. If you aren’t sure if your child is ready for that adjustment, trying easing them in slowly or delaying preschool a little while.
Preschool schedules fill up the day with enrichment activities. This of course keeps the kids entertained, but can also exhaust them if they aren’t used to that level of constant activity. Is your child energetic enough that they can thrive in a high-activity environment like that? It’s not fair to them or the preschool to constantly wear them out–don’t force it if your child simply can’t keep up.
Sending Your Child Off to Preschool
You know your child best, and you know when they’re completely ready to start preschool. The most important thing to remember is to not force a preschool start date if your child isn’t ready. Their developmental health matters more than starting preschool at the same time as everyone else.
Want to learn more about preschool readiness? Join the conversation to speak with our child development specialist about preschool readiness.