Is My Child Ready for School?
Enrolling your young child in school is a big decision. Here are some considerations that may help you to know if your child is ready to be in a group setting.
- Independence: 3-year-old children are not expected to do everything on their own or to solve problems all by themselves, but a little independence is key. In our Preschool Program, children are expected to be able to feed themselves and find their way around the classroom once they know it well. Free play indoors and out is an integral part of our program, so it is important that your child be independent enough to play with other children for a short period of time without needing constant redirection from an adult.
- Expression: School-ready children can express themselves in a way that can be understood by an unfamiliar adult. This does not mean that children need to be speaking in full sentences, just that they have an appropriate way of getting feelings and needs across. Children who are expressive can also understand what others are saying. Your child may not yet be able to follow directions that have many steps but understanding basic words and directional phrases such as “follow me” and “sit down” in their primary language are important.
- Is your child able to attend to a short picture book being read aloud? A 3-year-old child’s ability to concentrate looks different than it does in older children and this ability can vary from child to child. However, most school-ready children can pay attention to a short story and attend to an activity for 10 minutes. Keep in mind that being able to follow directions and focus on a task without getting overly distracted is something that develops over time and will be strengthened when your child enters a group setting.
- Is your child emotionally ready? A child who is emotionally ready is more eager to go to school and wants to make friends. A child may not yet have the skills to make friends but wanting to make them is a good start. It is important that your child can say goodbye to a parent or caregiver without too much anxiety. It is typical to be a little nervous, but if your child cries the entire day, it may not yet be the time to enter a Preschool Program. Our Parent Child Class is a wonderful way to expose children to others without the need to separate from you. That said, many children will cry when you say goodbye on the first day or even throughout the first few weeks, but this usually doesn’t last long once you’ve said goodbye and the school day has begun.
- Has your child transitioned from 2 naps (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) to 1 nap in the afternoon? If your child still takes a long morning and afternoon nap, it may not yet be time for a Preschool Program. Children need a lot of physical and mental energy for school. Children who aren’t used to following a routine at home and being actively engaged may not have the stamina for a full morning in a group setting and can have a harder time adjusting to school.
Looking at these areas can make it easier to know if your child is ready for our Preschool Program. Our teachers are happy to discuss your child’s readiness with you and answer any questions you may have about how our program supports a child’s development and growing independence. If you are concerned that your child can’t do many of these things or isn’t meeting usual developmental milestones, it is a good idea to speak to your pediatrician. Together you can decide on appropriate next steps to support your child’s healthy growth and development.