Is My Child Ready for Preschool?

Is My Child Ready for Preschool?

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Your child is three, perhaps four years old. She is sociable, inquisitive and is not afraid of trying new things. Clearly, this child is a candidate to attend preschool. Attending preschool is not cut and dry for everyone — some children need more time to mature, while others may need a less structured environment. Here is how to tell if your child is ready for preschool.

1. Have your child evaluated. You may think that you fully understand your child. In many ways, you are the best person to understand your child’s wants and needs. What may not always be so clear are your child’s development progress as well as her emotional and social needs. A counselor or preschool director may be able to help you assess those needs.

2. Can she use the bathroom? Not every preschool will accept children that are not potty trained. For some children, potty training is possible — as young as 18 months. For others, it can take up to about age 5 before the potty is used. Assess your child’s bathroom needs. She may use the potty most times, but have the occasional accident. Some preschools accept that criteria, requiring only that your child be sent to school with training shorts.

3. Does she stay focused? A sign that your child may be ready for preschool is her ability to stay focused. No, not for hours on end, but for at least 5 minutes. Most preschool lessons are very short in keeping with the attention span of youngsters. Still, she must learn to sit in a circle and listen while the lesson is being shared.

4. How is your child stimulated? Some children thrive when among toys, putting together puzzles, building blocks, interacting with other children and simply having a good time. Other children struggle in this area and may not find such stimulation appealing. Your child may need some time to get used to such stimulation before handling school.

5. Her emotional dependency matters. Not every child can stand to be separated from a parent, even for a few moments. It is normal for children to want their mother, but that separation can span several hours each day. If your child cannot bear to be apart from you for more than a few minutes, then expecting her to thrive when away for three or four hours may be too much to ask.

6. Does she get along well with others? Another important criteria for developing children to understand is if they get along with other people, particularly other children. Observe how your child acts on a playground and when among other family members and friends. If she is withdrawn, she will have a more difficult time at preschool.

7. Talk with your pediatrician. Your child’s doctor can provide objective insight into your child’s development. While your doctor may encourage expanded social interaction for your son or daughter, she may have a unique perspective on the environment where your child will best thrive.

8. Discuss with your spouse. Of course, discuss with your spouse your child’s readiness for school. He may have a certain insight that can help make this decision clear. Sometimes, the other parent sees things that the one parent does not as he may interact with the child differently than you.

Preschool Preparation

Even if your child is not ready for preschool right now, that does not mean she won’t be ready in the winter when openings may become available or the following year when she’ll have one more year to mature.

The delay can be advantageous too, especially if you need to work on reading, language and motor skills. Other preparatory training that you can provide includes math, science, writing and social studies, as well as arts and music.

See AlsoProviding Motivation as Reform for Education

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