If you’re the parent of a child who is three–or who will be soon–you may be wondering if it’s time to start thinking about sending them to preschool.
Typically, 3-5 is the age when children are considered to be “preschool-aged.” However, these are simply suggestions–there is no rush to have children start school before they’re ready.
Young children have a wide range of needs and abilities, and it’s essential to think carefully about these as you begin to consider beginning the search for a preschool. Some children are ready to start at three, and some need a little while longer to gain the skills they’ll need to transition into a preschool setting.
This guide will outline some of the skills and other factors to consider before sending your child to preschool. Reach out to the caring team of educators at Little Sunshine Preschool with questions or to learn more about our nurturing early education programs.
What Age Should Kids Start Preschool?
Age is one of the most important things to consider before sending a child to preschool. Generally, early childhood educators refer to the two years before a child starts kindergarten as “preschool.”
Many preschools require children to be three-or nearly-three–before enrolling in a preschool program. Some programs accept two-year-olds as well.
It can be tricky to determine what age kids should start preschool if they have birthdays late in the year–September 1st or later. Some parents may choose to wait for another year to begin preschool so that the child only has two years of preschool, and some may simply enroll their child for three years.
Age can be a crucial factor in determining a child’s readiness for preschool, but it’s not the only one.
Is My Child Ready For Preschool?
Once your child is old enough to enroll in a local preschool program, it’s important to determine if they’re ready for this big step. Here are some of the other factors to think about before beginning your search for a preschool near you.
Many preschool programs require that children be completely potty-trained before attending or that they must be quite far along in the process. Teachers in a preschool program often do not have the time or resources to frequently interrupt a lesson to change diapers or help with accidents, so this is an essential aspect of a child’s preschool readiness.
Your child should have reasonable independence in things like going to the bathroom, eating, and getting dressed. Preschool teachers typically expect children to take off and put on their own shoes, zip up jackets or sweatshirts, and independently open up some food packaging. Children should also know how to wash their hands with little to no help.
Preschool programs often do not have strict rules or expect children to follow complex instructions. However, preschool teachers typically expect children to understand and follow simple directions, such as cleaning up after snack time, walking in line with classmates, and other simple tasks.
Three-year-olds are not required to speak perfectly before starting preschool. However, it’s important that you and others can understand what your child is saying. Your child should also be able to understand what others are saying so that they can follow a teacher’s instructions and interact with other children appropriately.
Before enrolling your child in preschool, ask yourself these questions:
- Does my child speak in 3-5 word sentences?
- Can my child describe something to others?
- Can a stranger understand most of what my child is trying to say?
If you think your child may have a speech issue, discuss your concerns with their pediatrician. The sooner your child‘s issue is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcomes will likely be.
Preschool programs usually have a regular daily routine that allows adequate time for all activities. Preschoolers experience many transitions throughout the day as they move from morning circle to literacy, to art, to lunch, and so on.
Your child should be able to transition reasonably well from one activity to the next. Early childhood educators typically offer support before and during transitions to help children stop one activity and begin another with minimal issues. However, your child should be able to smoothly transition between tasks without much help before starting preschool.
Separation can be a significant challenge for some children, especially if preschool is their first experience of being away from parents or trusted caregivers. Learning to feel safe in a school environment can take time and patience–but parents can support this process by giving kids opportunities to practice before preschool begins.
Children do not have to be perfect at all of these skills before beginning preschool. Preschool teachers have plenty of experience and approaches that can help children smoothly adapt to the new preschool routine. However, children who struggle with many or all of these skills may benefit from waiting a bit longer before enrolling them in a preschool program.
Find a Preschool
If you are the parent or caregiver of a preschool-aged child, reach out to the caring educators at Little Sunshine Preschool now to learn about our amazing preschool programs. Contact us with questions or to set up a visit to our school. We look forward to meeting you and your child!