Preschool helps set the stage for early childhood academic and social development. While most preschools will accept enrollment of children 2–4 years of age, some children display a readiness sooner than others. How can you be sure your toddler is ready to begin a preschool program? Here are signs your little one has reached that stage and is ready to begin:
1. Your Child Is Potty Trained
Has your child been potty trained, or are you still struggling with this endeavor? While it is possible that a preschool will accept a child who is still in pull up training pants, some preschools will not accept toddlers who are still in diapers. Check with your preschool's toilet training policies to be sure. Being toilet trained makes it easier all around, so you might want to wait until your toddler reaches that milestone before considering preschool.
2. He or She Is Comfortable Spending Time Away From Parents
Does your child show little or no apprehension or fear being apart from you for hours at a time? If so, he or she may be ready for preschool. Children who are accustomed to being separated from working parents during the day often adapt to a preschool environment like at Sammamish Montessori School quicker than those who have Mommy or Daddy to themselves all day long. On the other hand, if your child is clingy and uncomfortable about you leaving for a while, he or she may need more time to adjust.
3. Interaction With Other Kids Has Been Established
Has your child had the chance to interact with other children? If he or she gets along well with other kids and is okay about sharing and taking turns, this is another indicator of preschool readiness. Children in a preschool environment will be interacting with other kids constantly and learning to get along is crucial to development and later success. If your child hasn't had much social interaction with others of the same age, you might want to encourage playtime with other children before preschool enrollment.
4. A Good Concentration Span Has Been Developed
Children who are ready for preschool often have an attention span of several minutes. They are not usually fidgety and can sit still during story time without interrupting. In addition, the ideal candidate for preschool will be able to follow directions and take commands from the teacher. If this sounds like your child, now might be a good time to begin preschool classes. By the same token, don't be too hesitant to enroll your child in preschool if he or she has some difficulty concentrating. Preschool might help reinforce good learning habits and concentration.
5. Basic Self-Care Skills Have Been Adopted
Does your child find it easy to pull up pants, zipper jackets, or button a shirt? Does he or she require little or no assistance in washing hands or eating a snack? These important self-care skills indicate a readiness for preschool.
6. Your Child Is Able to Express Himself or Herself and Be Understood
Preschool readiness means being able to communicate needs and feelings to others. Can your child be understood when expressing those needs or thoughts? He or she will need to be able to convey feelings, either through words or with gestures, while in a preschool environment. In addition, the child should be able to understand others who are communicating with him or her.
7. He or She Is Accustomed to a Structured Schedule
There will be structure in preschool, and if your little one is used to routine at home, it will be easier to adjust to a classroom setting. This may mean set times for snacks, play, reading, and naps. If your child does not have some type of structure at home, it may be time to set a daily routine before sending your toddler off to preschool.
Take all of the above aspects into consideration when contemplating preschool for your little one. Remember, your child will gain new skills as he or she enters into this new phase, so be patient as it's best not to overthink the process.