As a first-time parent, the idea of enrolling a child in preschool can be stressful. How do you know when your child is ready to venture out into the world and spend the day away from you?
Preschool allows your child to socialize with other children and learn basic skills. That said, not all children are ready for preschool, even if they’re already preschool age (the age requirement starts around age 3, though this varies).
We’re here to talk bout when to enroll in preschool so you can feel confident in your decision. Read on to learn more.
Can Your Child Socialize?
In preschool, your child is going to be engaging with other children and teachers. Are they ready to do that, or do they need more time?
Children who go to preschool need to be able to communicate in some way. You should be able to understand their speech, even if they’re not great talkers yet.
If the child is nonverbal, it’s helpful if they know sign language or if they have some other way to effectively communicate their needs to teachers and caregivers.
The child should also be able to play well with others.
Can Your Child Be Away From You?
Handling a clingy toddler is tough. If your child is still in the “stranger danger” phase, you may have to move past this before they start preschool.
It’s normal for your child to cling to you on the first few days of preschool. This is a brand new experience! Make sure that they’re still able to separate from you when they have to without throwing a fit.
To prepare them, we recommend sending them on semi-frequent play dates that you don’t attend. This way, they associate being away from you with fun activities.
Is Your Child Potty-Trained?
While this isn’t true across the board, some preschools require that children are potty-trained before they start. It’s okay if the child has an occasional accident, but accidents should be few and far between.
They should be able to pull their pants up and down and wash their hands after they use the restroom.
It’s helpful to send your child to preschool with an extra set of underwear or pull-ups if they’re newly potty-trained just in case.
Can Your Child Follow Basic Instructions?
Teachers and caregivers expect that children are going to struggle with following directions, but your child should be able to listen (at least on some level) and obey instructions without throwing a tantrum.
Before your child starts preschool, you should start giving them basic tasks. They can clean up toys, do small chores, and do educational activities like simple worksheets. This should prepare them.
When to Enroll in Preschool: Is Your Child Ready?
The best age to start preschool is between 3 and 4, but your child should reach these basic milestones before they start if you want them to have a good experience. Are you ready to determine when to enroll in preschool?
If so, start reaching out to local preschools right away. Remember: there are often waiting lists!
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