Taking your little one to preschool is an exciting moment for a parent. However, this phase of life can be full of anxiety. Especially if you are not sure whether your little one is ready for preschool or not.
Here are 13 things that will help you determine whether your tot is ready for preschool.
1. Concentration Span
A preschool is a place where learning is action-filled. That is why it is paramount that your little one can concentrate on an activity without getting overly distracted.
Assess your little ones’ concentration by asking him to draw or color for a few minutes. If he/she can focus, undistracted for 10 to 20 minutes, you are good to go.
Also, during playdates, it is good to asses your child’s ability to engage in cooperative play.
2. Expressive Abilities
Before you consider taking your child to preschool, you have to make sure that they can communicate with an unfamiliar adult.
Your little one needs to be able to put across their needs in a way that the adult can understand; This communication doesn’t have to be verbal.
For example pointing at an object to express a desired activity, or tugging on a sleeve when they need to go to the bathroom.
In addition to that, your child should also be able to understand basic instructions such as; come, sit down, stand-up, follow me, stop, etc..
Children with special needs should also have the ability to communicate through sign language or assistive technology.
3. Expressed Desire to Go to Preschool
If your child is eager to go to preschool, they will make it clear through some of these signs:
• Crying endlessly when an older sibling or a neighbors’ child is going to school.
• Is always carrying a school bag around the house.
• Runs fearlessly down the hallway whenever you go to pick an older sibling
4. Interaction with Other Kids
If your child likes to play with other children and freely explores the environment during social events, they may be ready for preschool.
Try to evaluate whether your child respects taking turns or sharing toys. See if they refrain from hurting or fighting with other children and instead they are now starting to get involved in a cooperative play.
If so, that might be a good sign that they are ready for the social interactions that preschool demands.
Preschool children are not expected to do everything on their own, some form of autonomy is expected of them. Your child should be able to play games or undertake projects with others for short periods without requiring redirection from an adult.
Is your child able to pick a learning center or interact with building blocks for five uninterrupted minutes?
If that happens, it only shows that they can now comfortably handle small projects without much assistance.
You may also help your child develop personal time by keeping yourself moderately busy. That way, your child can complete an assignment without too much help from you.
Independence is not just about your child can find their way around the preschool.
This could also mean your child doing some things on their own without your assistance such as; putting shoes on their own or even open the toy box without much without you helping them.
6. Potty Trained
Occasional messes are expected in a preschool; If your child is able to handle toilet visits on their own without further assistance. That is a good start!
But of course not a requirement especially when they join preschool as early as 18 months.
No worries! Most teachers in local centers are trained to handle and clean after any “messy incidents”.
In that case, the school will generally ask you to prepare enough diapers to be kept with them.
Aside from that, well-trained teachers will also communicate with you if they think your child is ready to go diaper-free.
And because your child must start learning to go to the toilet on their own in the center, maybe it is now a good sign for you to start training your child at home by practicing him to go diaper-free at night!
7. Health Stability
A preschool is a place where your little one will interact with children from various backgrounds.
They are likely to encounter germs that can easily make them sick. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it may be good for them to be exposed to these germs before they go to primary school.
It is good because this could actually help them build up their immunity during these preschool years.
Apart from that, this could help them become less susceptible to common bacteria once they enter the primary school.
Because primary school is where there are many more children, wherein they could inevitably be having more contact as well.
Falling ill during primary school years are a lot more difficult for the children too, as there would be schoolwork to catch up on.
Thus, building up natural immunity during preschool is ideal; The initial months would tend to be more difficult for parents, since your child may be falling sick more often.
However, this should stabilize after the first 6 months up to 1 year.
If your child continues to fall ill regularly, this is the time that you may now wish to check on the hygiene standards of the center.
Other than that, if your child is prone to superficial infections like bronchitis or ear infections, you may need to wait a little longer before you enroll them in a preschool.
8. Comfortable with Routine
Through most days, preschools have set routines that they run daily.
Your little one will encounter circle time, snack time, lunchtime, storytime, and naptime among others.
These events require various responses from your child.
So you better make sure that your child is comfortable with theses routines before you consider taking them to preschool.
Try to establish a predictable schedule at home such as consistent nap time, eating at the table, and washing hands before meals, etc.
9. Fine Motor Dexterity
Help your child develop some fine-motor skills before putting them to preschool.
Our modern-day children spend too much time swiping on tablets and other mobiles devices. And because of that their fine-motor skills barely develop.
Change this practice and start teaching them how to hold crayons, pencils, or scissors.
In most school, your child must be 18 months and above before you can consider taking them to preschool. If your child is below 18 months, you will need to enroll them in infant care centers instead.
Taking a child to school before the appropriate time may not be beneficial; As they have not yet acquired the social, emotional, and physical skills required for preschool activities.
And as your child enters into playgroup age, they learn many social skills in the center. This is really beneficial especially if your child doesn’t have siblings or other similarly aged children to play with on a daily basis at home.
Has your child become more curious and interested?
This could be a sign that their brain is craving for more information. The best way to feed their developing brain is to take your little one to a preschool.
Most preschools design structures and programs to feed these growing minds with knowledge.
12. Physical and Mental Energy
Your child needs to be mentally and physically ready for the tasks undertaken in preschool.
There are projects to do, field trips to take, playgrounds to explore and rules to be followed.
If your kid has a hard time following a routine like being actively engaged, he/she may have difficulties adjusting to preschool schedules.
Yet, this is also an opportunity to provide your child with a stable schedule if your home environment is not suitable for that.
See to it that they get the WHO recommended hours of sleep every day.
Sleep deprivation can be a major hindrance to your child’s adjustments to a preschool environment.
In most preschools, they have allocated naptime for up to 2 hours after lunch. If your preschooler takes a morning nap and gets fussy if they do not get it, try to modify this sleep pattern.
Prepare them by merging their morning and afternoon naps.
13. Emotional Readiness
Going to preschool is a significant event for your child. Some anxiety and teary mornings are normal during the first few days; maybe even weeks.
This experience differs from one child to another, but with a proper support system, most kids adapt to preschool life in no time.
However, if your child continues to express separation anxiety even after you have conducted a background check; and done everything to ensure a smooth transition, it could be a sign that they are not ready for preschool.
Prior separation from parents and caregivers helps your child to have an easier time fitting into the school system.
To develop emotional readiness, have mini-separations in the months before preschool.
For example; schedule time for your tot to be left with grandparents, aunties or other relatives as you run a few errands.
This will help them understand that separation is a part of life and does not mean abandonment.
Help your little one to adjust in small doses.
An example of this is dropping off your child for a few hours during the first few days, and increase the number of school hours as your toddler adjusts to preschool life.
Always tell them that you will be coming back for them. Never sneak out when they don’t see you, as this will only increase separation anxiety, and they may resist going to the centre completely.
Taking a child to preschool before they are ready can be damaging.
Part of your role as a parent is to ensure that as your little one approaches preschool going age, they are ready for this critical phase of life.
Assess your tot before you enroll them in a preschool. Undertake the necessary interventions if you notice a gap in preschool readiness.