By: Rose Urness
Determining whether or not your child is ready for preschool can be a challenge. Most children start preschool at the age of three. Being prepared depends on where the child is with his or her language, cognitive, social, emotional and physical development.
The following are guidelines to help you decide:
Can your child communicate the need to use the restroom?
Most preschools require children to be potty trained. Teachers will assist your child when going to the restroom.
Can your child separate from you?
Starting preschool in small doses will help your child adjust from the separation. Most preschools offer part time programs.
Can your child work on projects on his or her own?
Preschool usually involves art or individual projects that require the ability to focus. If your child likes to draw at home or enjoys puzzles or other activities on his own, he or she is a good candidate for preschool.
Can your child participate in group activities?
Children should be able to sit and listen to stories and participate in small group activities. Being able to follow directions is also important. This can be encouraged by attending play groups or story time (usually offered at public libraries or community centers).
A structured preschool has a predictable routine: circle time, centers, group activities, snack, etc. Children need to have a consistent schedule and thrive in an environment with predictability.
Why do you want to send your child to preschool?
Some preschools are designed for working parents that need full time hours and other preschools are solely part time hours. Some parents are looking for the social interaction with other children and others are looking for an academic setting to prepare their child for kindergarten. The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends that the developmental approach is the best program for preschool aged children. This encompasses physical, cognitive, language, emotional and social development.
When looking at different preschools, make sure you have a checklist of questions.
- Is the preschool licensed by the state? This requires mandated state inspections.
- What are the teacher qualifications? Are they CPR/First Aid certified? How long have the teachers been at the school? Is there a high turnover?
- How many students are in each classroom? There is a difference with a ratio and actual class size.
- What is the school’s philosophy on discipline? Class management?
- Are parents allowed to volunteer or visit?
- What is the security protocol on children being released?
- Is there a curriculum? Are there parent conferences throughout the year?
- What is the philosophy and mission statement of the program?
Choosing a preschool for your child is an endeavor that involves time and patience. Remember to always follow your intuition and be receptive to your child’s cues when bringing him or her to school.
Rose Urness, M.S. Ed., is the founder and owner of Creative Castle Preschool and Kindergarten. She is the mother of four children and has called Anthem, AZ “home” for the past eight years. Her passion for education and love for children exudes in the classrooms at Creative Castle, a small private school, located in Anthem and Vistancia.