For the most part, a preschool will start to accept children around the age of 2 or 3 years old.
This is true for our preschool at Cornerstone Academy in Kenosha, WI too. We feel this is an age where children start to develop the necessary skills and traits to leave their parents for extended periods of time throughout the day.
But, just because a preschool accepts a 2- or 3-year old child, it doesn’t mean that your child is guaranteed to be ready for preschool just because he or she is that age.
If you can’t decide whether your child is ready for preschool or not or if he or she should stay in daycare or home child care, we have provided some signs to monitor and help determine if the time is now to enroll your child in preschool:
(1) Is Your Child Independent?
In order to enroll in a preschool, your child will need to demonstrate a few signs of independence in order to prove he or she is ready. One example would be that most preschools want a child to be potty-trained before enrolling in their facility. It is also good if your child is able to wash their hands, eat their food and fall asleep on their own for a nap without too much attention.
(2) Time Away from Parents
How much time has your child spent away from you and your spouse? Children that are enrolled in a daycare full-time or spend several days or hours each week in child care or at a friend, family member or neighbor’s home are often more prepared to transition to preschool than children that spend almost all of their time exclusively with their parents.
If your child spends most of their time with you, consider enrolling him or her in preschool part-time at first and then transitioning to whatever full-time opportunities the preschool offers.
Is your child able to focus on projects or one thing for several minutes at a time without distraction or disruptive behavior? There will be several times throughout the day in preschool when your child will participate in art projects or educational activities and will need to be able to hold his or her attention during that time and not disrupt the other children at that time.
You will also want to understand the curriculum of the preschool in order to ensure your child isn’t too advanced for it as you do not want your child to be bored at school.
How much time does your child spend with other children? There will be many children enrolled in a preschool at any time and your child will need to be able to share with them and behave well with them in order for preschool staff to continue their lessons and responsibilities each day.
If your child doesn’t have much social experience or doesn’t play with other children often, consider setting up some playdates prior to enrolling him or her into a preschool in order to see how they handle interacting with other children.
Does your child have a routine in his or her day? Preschools run on a regular routine of activities, meals, naps, playtime and so on and it will be expected that your child will be able to acclimate to the routine and adjust to it quickly in order to not disrupt the day for the other children at the preschool.
Before enrolling your child in preschool, begin a routine similar to the one at the preschool you are interested in so the transition is very easy on your toddler.
You should be able to answer “yes” to all of these questions before you decide to enroll your child into a preschool.