Preschool is intended to prepare your child for kindergarten and schooling in general. It’s a way for children to learn social skills and some basics like color names, shapes, and the alphabet. How do you know if your child is ready for preschool? Here are some tips and advice on how to recognize your child’s readiness for preschool.
Ability to Separate
Some separation anxiety is understandable for preschoolers, but your child may not be ready for preschool if he seems traumatized by separating from you. Even a child who is comfortable being separated from the primary parent for a time may be fearful of a preschool setting, where there is a new adult and a large number of kids to deal with. If your child is fairly comfortable being away from you and interacting with other kids, he might be ready for preschool.
Depending on the requirements for your local preschool, a mastery of basic skills is generally expected. Being able to follow directions, use the toilet, and speak at least a few words together to communicate needs are some of the skills your child should master in order to be ready for preschool.
Does your preschooler have a “fit” when you want to change activities or when it’s time to leave a place where she’s enjoying herself? If so, it’s possible she’s not ready. Preschool activities change throughout the day, so it’s a good idea to make sure your child can make transitions fairly smoothly before starting preschool.
Observing the Class
Pay a visit to your local preschool when it’s active and in progress. See how your child reacts to the environment and the stimulation, and observe how the teacher and children interact. Does the teacher(s) seem like someone your child would like? Are you comfortable with them? Also note the children themselves – would your child “fit in” with these kids? Does he seem to have similar skills? Does he show an interest and want to participate?
Of course preschools don’t expect your child to do everything herself; she’s not going to be driving up in her own car! But a certain amount of independence is a good indicator that she may be ready for preschool. See if she can stick to a task on her own without asking for help, or if she can wash her hands and eat on her own.
These are just some of the signs to look for regarding your child’s preschool readiness. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. And remember, if your child does not go to preschool or goes later than some children, experts say it is not likely to cause any lasting negative effects.