Is Your Child Ready for Preschool?
Five Things to Consider Before Sending your Child to Preschool
Whether you’re on your first child or your fifth, making the decision to send them to school for the first time is never easy.
Transitioning children from home to preschool can be scary for parents, especially after Covid has become a reality for so many families.
On the bright side, many cities and states have put strict regulations into place to ensure that schools are safe and healthy.
Aside from the normal concerns around Covid and other illnesses, you may also be wondering if your child is really ready for school. Since every child develops at their own pace, many experts suggest there are some key signs to look for when determining if they’re ready to take the big leap.
Even though your child may only be 3 or 4-years-old, they should be independent to some extent.
Many preschools require that children are fully potty trained and out of diapers before they attend. However, schools that have programs for 3-year-olds or children with special needs tend to have different requirements.
Apart from being potty trained, your child should also be able to participate in classroom activities with other children for at least 5-10 minutes without constant direction from an adult. They should also be able to find their way around the classroom and schoolyard once they’ve become familiar with these spaces.
In addition to these skills, your child should be able to feed themselves with little to no assistance. If they have trouble with self-feeding, using a multipurpose playmat at mealtime is a great way to foster independence while eating.
Before heading to school, kids need to be able to express their own feelings. Even if your child doesn’t speak in full sentences, they should at least be able to express themselves in a way that any adult can still understand.
In addition to expressing themselves, they also need to have the basic understanding that others have needs and feelings too.
Determining if your child will be able to focus in the classroom can be tricky. It’s ideal if they can concentrate on a book or activity for 10-15 minutes. But if they’re not quite there yet, that doesn’t mean they’re not ready for school. Some kids may have a hard time sitting down for more than 5-10 minutes, especially if they are worried, excited, hungry, or tired.
If you’re not sure, spend some time at home doing an activity that they enjoy.
And if you’re doing an activity like painting or drawing, our Busy Baby mat provides a flat sturdy surface to help them to focus for longer periods of time.
Children who can stay attentive for at least 5-10 minutes before moving on to the next thing will be able to do the same once they’re in school.
Does your child have a hard time saying goodbye to you when you leave them with family or a sitter?
It may be common for your child to cry when you initially drop them off with someone. But if they usually have a hard time adjusting to time away from you, they may not be ready for a full day preschool program.
If you suspect your child has some anxiety about being away from home, start off with a half day preschool program to get their feet wet.
Kids who have already been in other childcare programs may have an easier transition. Having an older sibling that attends school can also encourage your little one to look forward to going to school. You can start the conversation with your child now by having their older sibling share some of the cool things they’ll get to do once it’s their turn to go to school.
It’s no secret that children thrive off having a routine and knowing what to expect during their day. If your child isn’t on a daily routine already, they may have a harder time adjusting. Especially if their preschool program doesn’t incorporate a nap into their schedule.
It’s important to consider your child’s sleep patterns even before applying to school. If they have a hard time waking up in the morning or take long afternoon naps, they may not be ready for the shift in their schedule. Because your little one needs energy to make it through the school day, they’ll need adequate sleep at home, especially if they are attending a full day program.
In general, school-aged children typically need nine to eleven hours of sleep per night. So, making sure they have a consistent sleep routine now is key to having a smoother transition later.
If you don’t have a bedtime routine or have trouble being consistent with your existing one, don’t be too hard on yourself.
We found a few things you can try to get on the right track…
- Start early and take your time
- Enjoy a nutritious dinner together
- Have some bath time fun
- Help them brush their teeth and use the restroom
- Read their favorite book
- Sing a song together
- Talk about their day or what they hope to do the next day
- Give goodnight kisses and turn out the lights
Even if your child isn’t sleepy yet once the routine is complete, tuck them in and leave the room. Some children create their own routines of playing with a toy or singing a song in the dark before they finally drift off to sleep.
If your child doesn’t fall asleep right away or wakes up in the middle of the night, that’s okay too! Having a bedtime routine and getting them in bed early will allow for them to get enough sleep for the next day.
Once you’ve got a good routine going, stay consistent…even on the weekends. Having a routine will put your little one at ease when they know what’s coming next.
We hope these tips will help you in deciding if preschool is the next step for you and your little one!
Keep an eye out for our new Busy Baby Toddler mat that will be available to shop next month! We’re certain it will be another great tool to use in preparing your child for school.