Some kids are more than ready to start preschool at 2 1/2, which is when most schools start accepting children. Others aren't. It can be hard to know whether your child is ready, let alone whether you are okay with him or her going. Some kids - and some parents - just aren't ready to embark on their classroom experiences until age 3 or 4, and some kids never go to preschool, sliding right into kindergarten without previous classroom experience.
Assessing your child's readiness for preschool really has more to do with where he or she is developmentally - socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively - than whether or not he or she has mastered a certain skill set.
Self-sufficiency: Many preschools prefer that children be potty-trained, though they should be used to dealing with occasional accidents. It may be helpful to begin the process of learning basic skills with your child at home, such as putting on and taking off shoes and coats, cleaning up a play area, washing hands, eating lunch, etc.
Ease of separation: How well does your child tolerate time spent apart from you? Has she spent time with a sitter or relative without a problem? If not, and you're looking to have your child start school, you may need to help her understand that, when you leave, it's OK; you'll come back again. Ask a friend or relative to babysit or hire a sitter to spend a few hours a day with your child a couple of days a week while you run errands. Or you could look for a playgroup that allows you to step away for a bit, just to get your child used to the idea that separation is not permanent and that she can have fun and relax, independent from you.
Independence: Preschool requires a certain amount of independence from kids. To prep for preschool, encourage your child to play solo for short stretches of time, working up to slightly longer stretches.
Ability to focus on group activities: Preschool requires children to be able to collectively focus on an activity: listening to a story, singing a song, or making an art project. To prepare your child for this, sign her up for a class with other kids - music or tumbling, perhaps - or take her to a local story time gathering to gain experience participating in a group.
MORE OF BABBLE'S PRESCHOOL GUIDE:
- When should your child start?
- What do they learn?
- How to find the right preschool
- Countdown to the first day
- Tips for the first day of preschool
- Easing separation anxiety
- You and the teacher
- For the special needs child
- Useful books and videos
- Best preschool supplies