How To Know If You Child Is Ready For Preschool

(Collaborative post by another author) Preschool can be overwhelming and scary for both parents and children. It’s the first time your child will be away from you for a long period of time, and it’s important that they are mentally, physically and emotionally ready for this new challenge. While most preschools start accepting children between 3-4 years of age, it doesn’t magically mean your little one is ready.

Free stock image from pixabay by timkraaijvanger of a pregnant woman and a young children


Can your child be away from you?

While some anxiety and homesickness is expected when your child is starting preschool, and there are a number of tools that have been developed to help with this transition, you do need to be confident that you will be able to separate from them.

Some ideal steps to prepare for preschool is to start spending incremental amounts of time apart, whether it’s leaving your little one with grandparents or friends. This ensures that they know that even after separation, you will eventually return, thus making them confident (and hopefully excited) to start preschool! 

Does your child follow instructions?

While preschool is not particularly rigid or governed by a lot of rules, it is required for children to be able to follow simple one or two step instructions. “Come sit on the rug”, “pack away your food” or “stand in line” are just some of the simple instructions your child should be able to follow. If you are unsure that they are ready, try practicing at home!

Simple tasks like hand washing and putting away toys can be incorporated into their routine to help them learn to follow directions. 

Can they manage the school schedule?

Most preschools have an established schedule, usually including set times for carpet activities, play time, snacks and playground. Having a consistent routine is known to help create stability, comfort and a sense of control for kids, but if your child isn’t used to it, it can be a difficult adjustment. Transitioning between activities is another required skill.

“For example, learning how to put down a toy and mentally switch to another activity. As always, practice is the best preparation. You can set a timetable for the day or practice a night time routine, and in no time, your little one will be ready to tackle preschool!” says Ms. Celicia Ng, Center Director of Tutor Time Nursery schools in Hong Kong.

Can they communicate clearly?

Most children between 3 and 4 years of age have mastered basic speech and are able to communicate their needs in a way that is understandable.

It is expected that most children this age are able to string together short sentences between three to five words, answer simple questions, and describe their actions or past experiences. This is essential in most  preschool environments where your child needs to communicate with teachers and other students.

If you are worried about your child’s communication skills, speak to your GP or Health Visitor and get them evaluated. Don’t worry if your child hasn’t reached a particular benchmark, because most schools have strategies or workarounds for teaching students with communication issues! 

Are they ready to participate in group activities with others?

Collaborating with other students is a huge part, not just of preschool, but of your child’s developmental journey. While preschool is a place to learn and significantly develop these teamwork skills, having some level of socialisation with other children (be it siblings or friends at playgroups or parks) is helpful in the transition into preschool.

Observing how well they engage in activities such as sharing, turn-taking and listening will give you a good indicator of their readiness. Further preparation can be achieved through more activities with other children! You can arrange playdates, join community activities like story time or attend a playgroup. 

Is your child potty trained?

Most preschools require some degree of potty training for their students, along with other general hygiene practices and basic requirements. These include being able to hand wash and eat with lunch with minimal help. While accidents can happen, your child should be able to use the toilet when required.

This will also help them be comfortable and happy in preschool, and reduce embarrassment if and when it does happen! To help your child along, be sure to practice during the summer before school starts. 

There are a multitude of resources and techniques, such as the Brazelton Child-Oriented, Parent-Led and 3-Day Potty Trainings, and you have to decide what is best for you and your child. 

Conclusion 

Ultimately, you know your child the best, and finding the right time for starting preschool can vary based on your kid’s needs. Whether it’s communication, potty training or separation, the skills for a smooth transition into daily independence can all be learnt. When it comes to getting ready to start preschool, practice is the best preparation!  


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