Is My Child Ready for Preschool?

If your child is approaching the preschool years, you may start to wonder if she is ready to begin a preschool program. Many thoughts and concerns may be circling through your mind when contemplating this idea. Rest assured that these concerns are normal. Answer the following questions to help you determine whether your young child is ready for a preschool program.

Questions to Determine Preschool Readiness for Your Child:

  • Is she toilet trained? It is important to consider toilet training when thinking about your child’s readiness to start preschool. Being toilet trained can make the transition to preschool easier and less stressful. Most children in preschool classes are toilet trained and will not be in diapers. This may cause some stress for a child who has not met this milestone. It’s also critical to know that there are some schools with toilet training requirements, so make sure that you have read the information on this topic if you are considering preschool.
  • How does she handle separation?  If your child screams when you leave the room, she might have some difficulty being away from you for the preschool day. If your child is typically calm and easy going when away from you, it is a good sign that she will handle the separation involved in the preschool day well too.
  • Does she handle transitions well? Preschools are typically very structured. In the average preschool day there is usually playtime, mealtime, craft time, circle time, and sometimes a repeat of these activities in the afternoon. A child who becomes easily frustrated with small changes might have a difficult time adjusting to the multiple transitions in the preschool schedule. If you’re leaning towards signing your young child up for a preschool program, it can be very helpful for you to begin scheduling her days into more structured activities before school begins. This can put her more at ease when the time comes for her to be in the structured, preschool setting.
  • Am I ready to send her off for the day/half day?  Your readiness to send your young child to a preschool program plays an important role in the entire experience. A child might pick up on any stress or uncertainty you feel during this time.  If you have been home with your child since she was born, sending her to preschool will be a big change. Make sure that you have planned things to do that can help you transition too.

In addition to answering these questions, talking to other parents, visiting different preschool environments and talking with preschool teachers can be helpful during this decision making time. Dr. Gail Saltz, professor of psychiatry at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell School of Medicine in New York City offers a final opinion on the topic: “If your child isn’t ready for preschool as soon as you’d like, don’t let it worry you, it’s not so crucial. It can be a nice thing and a fun thing, but it’s not like if a kid doesn’t go to preschool, he or she won’t be able to socialize, read, or write.”  In short, your child will make the transition to preschool when she is ready.

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