Finding a good preschool for your child can seem like an overwhelming process but before you even begin the search, you must ask yourself - Is my child ready?
So how do you know? There are no set guidelines. But there are a few things to consider or assess before conducting your search for the perfect preschool.
Is your child fairly independent?
Preschool requires children to have certain basic skills. Some may even require your child to be potty-trained while others may be willing to help with the process. They may expect your child to be able to take care of some other basic needs, like washing his hands after painting, eating his lunch without assistance, and sleeping alone. It is important your child feels comfortable performing certain tasks on his own. Not sure how to start? With most kids, praise goes a long way - compliment each achievement to help build their self esteem.
Has your child spent time away from you?
If your child has been cared for by a babysitter or a relative, she might be better prepared to separate from you when she's at preschool. Kids who are used to being apart from their parents often have an easier time adjusting with little to no separation anxiety. If your child hasn't had many opportunities to be away from you, it might be a good idea to schedule some — a weekend with the grandparents, for instance, or a day with their aunt or cousins. Regardless of their separation issue, many children leave Mom or Dad for the first time to go to preschool and they do just fine. The trick is to help your child adjust in short doses. Many preschools will allow you to drop off your child for an hour or two during her first few days there to help get used to her environment, until you can gradually work up to a full day. This is a great way to help get them ready when they eventual move to kindergarten.
Does your child have self discipline?
Preschool usually involves circle time which requires kids to sit for a significant period of time just listening, or participating in an orderly fashion. There is also lots of arts and crafts projects that require concentration and the ability to focus on an individual task. If your child likes to draw at home or gets engrossed in puzzles and other activities on his own, he might be ready to take on this challenge. But even if he's the kind of child who asks for help with everything, you can start getting him ready by setting up play times where he can entertain himself for a half hour or so. While you wash the dishes, encourage him to figure out ways to be creative on his own - like making shapes and creatures out of clay, etc. Gradually build up to longer stretches of solo play so that he'll get on with his own without too much hand-holding from you.
Is your child able to participate in group activities?
Other than circle time, many of the play and learn projects in preschool require group participation. If your child isn't used to group activities, you can start introducing them yourself. Take him to story time at your local library or bookstore, or sign him up for a class to help him get used to playing with other children.
Does your child keep a regular schedule?
Preschools tend to follow a predictable routine - circle time, play time, snack, playground, then lunch. There's a good reason for this. Children tend to feel most comfortable, secure and in control when the same things happen at the same time each day. So if your child doesn't keep to a schedule and each day is different from the last, help him standardize his days a bit before he starts preschool. You can start by offering meals on a regular timetable and creating realistic routines you can stick to such as a bedtime ritual - dinner,bath, reading books, then bed - or whatever works for you.
Does your child possess the physical and emotional endurance for preschool?
Whether it's a half-day or full-day program, preschool can be quite demanding and time consuming. There are art projects to do, field trips to take, and playgrounds to explore. Does your child thrive in these types of activities, or does she have trouble moving from one thing to the next without getting cranky? Another thing to consider is how and when your child needs to nap. Preschools usually schedule nap time after lunch. If she still needs a mid-morning snooze, you might want to give her more time. You can work toward building her stamina by making sure she gets a good night's sleep. If you have some flexibility in your schedule, you might also consider start her off in a half-day program to ease her into this new regime, and gradually increase the length of her school day as she gets more adjusted.
What are your main reasons for wanting to send your child to preschool?
Carefully consider your goals for sending your child to preschool. What need are you looking to fulfill - Going back to work? Need time for yourself? Looking for social and academic outlet for your child? There may be other options if it seems he isn't ready yet for the rigors of school. A good daycare facility or a qualified caregiver may be a good alternative until you feel confident your child is on board.
If you find that your child seems eager to learn new things and explore, he isn't getting enough stimulation at home or daycare, or he seems ready to broaden his social horizons and interact with other children, chances are it's the perfect time to start school.
Most importantly, make a point to talk to your partner and/or child about the different options. Their input will likely affect your decision. Good luck and enjoy the journey!
To learn more about the classes offered at A Mother's Haven, please visit our website. You can also contact us by calling (818) 380-3111 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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