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How to Tell if Your Child is Ready for Preschool

How to Tell if Your Child is Ready for Preschool

Preschool starts in the fall and you’re wondering if your child is ready. There’s a lot of talk about kindergarten readiness, but parents want to know about preschool readiness skills, too.

While kindergarten readiness includes academic skills, preschool readiness is more dependent on life skills. It’s true, as Circle of Moms member and teacher Brandy C. points out, that “every preschool has different expectations,” but there is some common ground.

One way to determine this is to ask yourself if your child has all the PIECES in place for preschool, where "pieces" is an acronym that stands for potty training, independence, expressiveness, concentration, endurance, and separation.


“P” is for Potty Training

While some daycare-preschool combination programs are a little more lax about toilet training than others, most preschool programs will expect your child to be out of diapers and be able to wipe and wash with minimal assistance. That doesn't mean preschools won't tolerate the occasional accident or accommodate children with special needs, but the expectation is, as Jama, a preschool teacher's aide who's on Circle of Moms puts it, “Our children just need to be potty trained.”


“I” is for Independence

Your 3- or 4-year-old won’t (and shouldn’t ) be completely independent, but she should be able to do some things without help, including being able to handle snack time. “I am amazed at the number of children [who] come through our doors [who] do not know how to sit down at a table and properly feed themselves,” says Rosalee V., a PreK teacher.

That's not all. Your preschooler should also be able to entertain themselves for at least a twenty minute stretch of time and be able to tackle projects independently. That doesn't mean you should give your child glue and scissors and leave them to their own devices, just that it's time to encourage them to do some of the gluing and designing on their own.

“E” is for Expressiveness

Expressiveness refers to how well your child makes herself understood and how well she understands others. Your child should be able to talk in fairly intelligible 3 to 5 word sentences to be understood.

Understanding other people is less about listening and more about getting that other people have needs and feelings, too. It’s developmentally appropriate for your child to be just developing these skills. Preschool teacher Rebbecca J. describes these budding social-emotional skills in depth:

“These include sharing, being friendly, a general understanding of fairness and justice, empathy, responsibility to others, and the overall ability to be a good friend.”


“C” is for Concentration

Concentration really is a combination of readiness skills. It's about your child's ability to pay attention during a group activity, listen to directions and to focus on what’s going around them. That sounds like a lot to expect from a preschooler, but they don’t have to be able to do it all at once. “Being able to sit for a story is helpful, ”says Brandy.

“E” is for Endurance

It may sound more like you’re preparing your child for a race, but endurance is an important part of being ready for preschool. If your child isn’t used to the routine of a full (or half) day of having her brain engaged, or if she still takes a morning nap, preschool is going to be tough. There are definite benefits to getting them into a routine, though. As Circle of Moms member Elaine C. explains, “Structure helps kids to feel safe, confident and in control.”

“S” is for Separation

Many preschool aged children are wary of being away from their caregiver, but the question to consider is whether or not your child has had periods of separation from you. If she hasn't spent time without you, whether it's with a babysitter, at a playgroup, or with relatives, she may not understand the drop-off/pick-up component of preschool.

Young children don't automatically understand how that works, which is why Circle of Moms member (and preschool teacher), Abie S. says it's so important to “come up with a plan together about dropping off and picking up so she knows you are coming back.”

Putting the Pieces Together

Once you’re sure your child has all the PIECES in place, the hardest part of sending her to preschool may be your own emotions! Take heart in Abie’s observation that she has never “had a child [who] cried more than five minutes after mom left.”

Image Source: Elise Ramsey via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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