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Is My Child Ready for Preschool?

by Margot F. | January 21st, 2014 | Preschool, School

preschoolersShortly after a child’s second birthday, many parents start thinking about sending their child to preschool. For a stay at home parent, preschool might allow for a much needed break from an active child. Also, preschools provide excellent opportunities for a young child to socialize and participate in new activities. How do you decide if the child will be ready by the age of 30 months? Some things to consider are language skills, toilet training, separation anxiety and level of independence.

Most preschools request the child have basic daily living skills. It is helpful if the child is able to wash their own hands before eating and after a craft activity. Also, can the child dress and undress with minimal assistance? Starting zippers and helping with a button is fine, but a child standing and waiting to be dressed is a concern. Furthermore, can the child eat snacks independently? A bit of help with juice boxes is understandable; however, a child that needs constant prompting might be a bit young.

Although preschools prefer a child to be toilet trained, it is not always a requirement. Find out the guidelines. Are disposable pull-ups acceptable? How are accidents handled? A child who is partially toilet trained tends to benefit from watching peers and will soon be fully trained.

Language skills are important for a child entering preschool. While parents and family members can understand your child, can other people? Is the child frustrated trying to communicate? Waiting a few months to enter preschool might give the child with delayed verbal skills a chance to catch up. Perhaps January would be a better time to start instead of September. Four months is a long time for a child this age and significant growth can happen in that time.

How does your child respond to leaving you? Has the child spent time with a babysitter or with grandparents? Can the child visit a preschool with you before making a commitment? Are the children at the center relaxed with the teachers? Is your child happy in an environment with this level of noise? Are the activities well planned and appropriate for this age group? Does the preschool have a gradual entry policy? At the start, can you accompany the child for short intervals to share in the excitement of meeting new friends and participating in fun activities?

Preschools tend to follow a clear routine such as circle time, play time, snack, gross motor activity and then wind down and dismissal. A child familiar with routines at home is better able to adjust to the routine at preschool. Set up a regular mealtime, nap and playtime. A bedtime ritual consisting of a bath, then story and bed will help the child settle and get a good night sleep to prepare for the next day’s adventure.

Preschool is an exciting time for a young child. Whether your child is ready to start at 30 months or older, a positive preschool experience is important and worth the wait.

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