For many parents of young children, the thought of starting preschool is daunting. Parents today feel more pressure to promote their child's early academia, questioning at what age do kids start preschool, and, in fact, what does "preschool age" even mean?
But preparing your child for preschool doesn't have to be stressful.
Tina Nocera's book, Parents Ask, Experts Answer, delves into the common question of preschool readiness. In the book, parent-submitted questions are answered by multiple experts so that parents may choose the answer that best fits their family.
Experts agree that preschool is usually a good thing! It encourages socialization, structured play and learning how to interact with adults and peers.
Parents Ask, Experts Answer contributor Dr. Vicki Panaccione urges parents to explore four developmental areas when deciding whether their child is ready for preschool: physical, social, emotional and cognitive (mental). Although different preschools may have different requirements, the following list includes many of the indicators that your child may be ready to attend a structured program and interact with a group of other children.
(From Dr. Panaccione)
Physical readiness may include:
- Your child is potty trained,
- Able to go without a nap for an extended period of time,
- Has independent living skills, such as washing hands, pulling up pants, eating without assistance,
- Able to sit for short periods of time to listen to a story or sing songs, etc.,
- Able to hold crayon or marker.
Social readiness may include:
- Able to comply with simple instructions and rules,
- Can share, cooperate, wait her turn, etc.,
- Ready to participate in group activities,
- Can play with or alongside other children,
- Able to comfortably interact with other adults.
Emotional readiness may include:
- Ability to sleep by himself,
- Ability to comfortably separate from you,
- Ability to be away from you for extended periods of time,
- Comfortable with high levels of stimulation and activity,
- Comfortable around other children and adults,
- Able to follow a routine and structure,
- Able to do an assigned activity,
- Able to work independently for short periods of time.
Cognitive (mental) readiness may include:
- Eagerness to learn,
- Ability to listen to and understand a story,
- Ability to understand and follow basic instructions,
- Ability to focus and concentrate for short periods of time.
Keep in mind that children develop at different ages and degrees. Follow your child’s lead in terms of his or her readiness to be involved in a stimulating but structured setting surrounded by other children and adults. Preschool can be a wonderful opportunity to learn, socialize and gain independence when your child is ready!
For more expert tips on your parenting queries, check out Parents Ask, Experts Answer.