Letting your child go to preschool can be a terrifying step in a mother’s journey. You gave your child life, your baby has spent every waking moment with you. Every time they’ve cried, you’ve been there to dry their eyes. Every accomplishment they’ve had, you were the one that taught it to them and the one cheering them on. All the sudden, you’re going to entrust their care and education in the hands of someone else.
You know the many benefits of academic preschool and understand that through preschool your child will develop a foundation that will serve them through their educational careers. You know that academic preschool programs help children gain independence and self-confidence. You know that children who participate in academic preschool curriculum achieve higher test scores in grade school. You know that preschool is good for your child, but part of you will always be unsure if they’re ready to spread their wings and go without you.
The best way to identify if your child is prepared to go to preschool is to understand the general requirements for preschool. If your child meets all of the requirements for preschool, they are ready (even if they’re still a baby in your eyes). We’ve put together a quick checklist for the requirements for preschool below, read them and decide how your child sizes up. If you answer yes to each point on our checklist, there’s a good chance that your child is ready for preschool:
Three Common Requirements for Preschool
- Is your child old enough for preschool?
This question is the easiest to answer because it takes no subjectivity involved. Most educators agree that children benefit from preschool the two years prior to when they are old enough to start kindergarten. For the most part this means that your child is old enough for preschool when they are three years old, but it might slightly vary based on their birthday. If the preschool you’re planning to enroll your child in is a public school, you might have to follow the age guidelines of the school system. Most of the time this means that if the child turns three after the first of September, they’ll have to wait until the next school year to start. This is still beneficial for the child though, since they’ll also have to wait to start kindergarten, so they’ll still get the recommended two years of preschool.
- Can your child participate in a structured environment?
Let’s be realistic: a three-year-old is a three-year-old. No preschool child is going have the attention span or discipline to follow every direction they are told. However, in order to gain anything from their preschool experience, a child must be able to at least somewhat follow the program set forth by the teachers. Preschool isn’t just a free-for-all. Your child will likely have “circle time” where they gather around the teacher to hear stories and the object lesson of the day, and then they may have outdoor free play, and then they may have another structured activity or centers. If the child isn’t able to focus on a single task yet, they may struggle to follow along in preschool.
If you don’t feel like your child will be able to follow the structure of a preschool day, try to incorporate instructions into their day now. Help them gain a routine, and learn how to follow directions when they need to. With a little practice, they’ll be ready to thrive in preschool!
- Is your child able to communicate basic needs?
It is not uncommon for a mother to be the main translator of a preschool-age child’s dialogue. It’s okay if approximately 50% of their words are difficult to understand if you aren’t their mother. However, in order to succeed in school, they’ll need to be able to express themselves either through body language or short sentences. They’ll also need to be able to understand basic commands and respond to them.
That being said, if your child has signs of a speech delay, preschool might be particularly beneficial to them, in the right setting. If you believe your child might be struggling to communicate, look for a preschool that employs occupational therapists in the classroom.
Do you have any other questions? Share below!