Preschools are early childhood education programs for children ages 3 to 5 designed to teach cognitive and social development skills through play. Research shows that children who attend a high-quality preschool with trained teachers have improved academic, social, and self-regulatory skills. They develop social and emotional skills like learning to share and following directions. Their exposure to a structured school routine helps them more confidently and independently prepare for the transition into kindergarten.
Each child develops at a different rate. A preschool should have trained professionals who can assist children regardless of where they are in their development. However, if you want to be more confident your child is ready, here are some skills to help prepare your toddler for their next big step into preschool.
Preschool may be the ideal setting if your toddler has no issue spending time without you and is eager to explore and socialize. However, it is perfectly normal for your child to be reluctant to separate from you.
Before starting preschool, practice leaving your child in the care of another trusted adult for short periods, like when you go to the supermarket. If possible, plan play dates with kids their age or take them to storytime at the local library. This can help your child learn to explore and separate without panic. It allows them to build their confidence in socializing with other kids and spending time on their own.
Your toddler should understand basic instruction and express their needs using small sentences, gestures, or sign language. They should be able to communicate things like needing to use the bathroom or if someone has made them upset. They will also need to be able to understand basic instructions, such as, “Wash your hands” or “Sit down, please.” Encourage conversation with your child at home. Ask them questions and encourage them to make eye contact to help improve their oral development.
Children in preschool usually have a schedule of activities outlined for their day. Your toddler will need to focus on activities for a few minutes at a time, then transition to the next. Activities could include arts and crafts, playtime, snack time, nap time, and packing away toys. To help build this trait at home, schedule simple activities around the house and teach your child positive ways of transitioning from playtime to dinner time or storytime.
Preschools usually schedule a one-afternoon nap. If your little one still needs to take two naps or takes naps over 2 hours, consider enrolling them part-time if possible to get them adjusted. They will need to have enough stamina to get through the activities of the day.
While accidents are expected, some preschools may not accept a child who is not able to use the toilet independently most of the time. Start toilet training with your toddler before preschool. Teach them how to pull up their pants and the importance of washing their hands after using the bathroom. To help your child through the process at home, try putting them in underwear for periods during the day. Underwear is less comfortable when soiled, and this may motivate children to alert you when they need to go to the bathroom.
Your child will adjust better if they are not reliant on adults for everything. When at home, encourage them to feed themselves and allow them to practice putting on their shoes and jackets when getting ready. Give your child clothing that is easier to maneuver, such as pants with elastic waistbands instead of those with zippers, and t-shirts instead of buttoned-down shirts.
At Rothewood Academy, we nurture your child’s curiosity, individuality, and imagination so that they can confidently develop in an environment that fosters and facilitates learning. Our caring and trained staff create learning opportunities that stimulate the development of your child holistically. Our curriculum is age-appropriate to ensure your child achieves success. If you would like to learn more about Rothewood Academy, call to schedule a tour today.