Is My Child Ready for Preschool?
Experts agree that preschool helps kids socialize, begin to share, and interact with other children and adults.
Getting Prepped for Preschool
When you think it's time for your child to try preschool, experts recommend doing plenty of research to find the best atmosphere to provide the benefits. "Talk to the director and the teachers, and see what the preschool's goals are for children that age," says Hays. "Look at the classroom and facilities, and briefly observe how comfortable the children seem to be."
Get your child ready for preschool by building anticipation instead of anxiety, Hays says. "Introduce them to the idea of preschool because when kids know what to expect, they feel more secure," she says.
Specifically, in the year leading up to preschool, visit the classroom. "It's best if the child can see the classroom, meet the teacher -- and if you can, seek out children who will be in the classroom," she says.
"I advise parents to talk to their kids about what will happen in preschool, what they will do, how much fun it will be, and how many friends they will make," she says. "It's about getting your child to have a positive attitude about preschool."
Another tip: "Don't just get everything ready yourself," Hays says. "Let your child pick and pack their backpack and choose a special snack. Invite the child to help because this helps build positive anticipation and makes preschool more of an adventure and something to look forward to."
You can help them get ready to learn too. "Point out letters and numbers on streets and buildings, and shapes and colors in architecture. The more you talk to your child and the more you read to your child, the more vocabulary they are building," says Hays.
Helping your child become self-sufficient is another important step. "Encourage this by allowing your child to brush their hair, put on their own pants, button some buttons and zip some zippers," Hays suggests. "It's good for a child to have that sense of accomplishment, and this will translate into other areas, including using the potty. Self-confidence is the most important thing a kid can go to preschool with. And when they know how to do things by themselves, they will feel accomplished and capable and comfortable going into this big new world."