Is Your Child Ready to Start School?

Once your child nears or passes the age of one, you may be wondering if they are ready to start preschool. Many parents aren’t sure how to make this decision. Determining whether or not your child is ready for preschool is a big decision, but there are some key indicators explained below that can help you to decide. Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine if your child is ready to take that first step into a classroom;


1. How Old Is Your Child?

For the most part, educators define preschool as the two years before a child begins kindergarten. Some preschools set a minimum age for when they’ll accept kids—usually, they have to be 3 by December of the academic year, although some will allow children as young as 2 to attend.


2. Is Your Child Potty Trained?

Some preschools require that their students be potty trained, or at least well on their way. Preschoolers also should have some knowledge of self-care, including putting on their shoes and their coats. They also should know how to pull up and fasten their pants as well as wash their hands. There usually aren’t super strict rules in preschool, but it is expected that your child can follow simple instructions. Preschoolers are usually asked to clean up, follow snack guidelines, walk in a line with the rest of the class, and other assorted jobs.


3. Can You Understand Your Child’s Speech?

Typically, preschool-ready children speak in simple sentences of three to five words. They also can describe something that has happened recently such as a trip to the library or a visit to the zoo. If you suspect your child has a speech or hearing issue, talk with your paediatrician.


4. Can Your Child Handle Transitions?

Most preschools operate on an established schedule. For instance, they might move from carpet time to playtime, to craft time, to snack time, and children are expected to be able to smoothly transition from one activity to the next. If your child is not good at transitioning quickly, especially when they are engrossed in an activity they enjoy, transitioning is something you’ll want to work on before preschool starts. Learning to move from one activity to the next as a class is an important skill preschooler must learn.


5. Can Your Child Separate From You?

For kids who have been in daycare, separating from parents is often a no-brainer but for children who have had one parent at home with them all day, separation anxiety can be an issue. If you’ve never left your child before or they tend to get upset when you do, you may want to start working on this skill. While it’s common for some children to be upset at drop-off, they will usually settle quickly once their parent has left.


6. How Well Do They Interact With Other Kids?

As you consider whether or not your child is ready for preschool, think about how much they have socialized with other children as well as whether or not they can interact with other children in appropriate ways. If your child has been around other kids frequently, such as living with siblings, at church, in playgroups, or at the park, you probably have a pretty good idea of how they respond to other kids their age. Observing how well they play and interact with siblings, neighbours, and cousins can provide some insight, too, in determining preschool readiness. That said, learning social skills is also a key focus in preschool. So, if your child has not had much interaction with other children, you don’t need to worry.

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