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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 continued...

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."

Saltz agrees. "It is beneficial if can they can manage themselves in terms of eating, toileting, and activities of daily living," she says. "Some parents, in a totally well-meaning way, may keep doing everything for the child. Then they send them to school where it's embarrassing because every other kid is zipping, buttoning, and snapping -- while your kid is just waiting for the teacher."

Easing Separation Anxiety

On that first day, parents can -- and should -- try to help curb separation anxiety even before it starts, so they can maximize the benefits of preschool for their children.

"Help your child know how to say goodbye," Hays says. "This is easier to do when your child understands that there will be a hello -- and when that will be. Talk about it in advance, and on the way to school, and just as you are about to make a departure."

Then, before you leave, make sure your child is engaged in something or caught up in something in the classroom, Hays says. Say a firm goodbye and leave quickly. Her cardinal rule for anxious parents: "Don't linger."

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Reviewed on May 04, 2010

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