Preschool Readiness

Many children start preschool in the year they turn 2, but this doesn’t have to apply to all children. To assess preschool readiness, you need to determine whether your toddler is ready for a daily, structured programme. It’s also a matter of preparing yourself. So, what should you look out for? Use this school readiness list to assess your little one.

5 signs of readiness

  1. Napping: How and when does your little one nap? Preschools often have lie-downs after lunch, so if your child needs a morning snooze, it may be too soon for school.
  1. Independence: Is your child wanting to ‘do it themselves’? If your little one shows an interest in brushing hair, getting dressed, or using the potty, that’s a good sign of preschool readiness.
  1. Separation: Has your toddler been cared for by a babysitter, nanny or relative before? If so, they may be better prepared to be separated from you.
  1. Socialisation: If your toddler loves to be around other kids, has the ability to engage, and can be separated from you, they’re ready for preschool.
  1. Routine: If your child happily keeps to a schedule where each day resembles the last, they may be ready for preschool, with its structured daily agenda.

5 readiness accelerators

  1. Read, read, read – especially stories about starting school.
  2. Introduce group activities, like a music class, and arrange ‘play dates’.
  3. Start to build stamina by ensuring a good night’s sleep.
  4. If your child hasn’t had many opportunities to be away from you, try to schedule a sleepover with grandparents or a day out with cousins.
  5. Role-play “school” at home with dolls and toys as a non-threatening way to practise. Let your child steer the game, to help you uncover specific fears.

Before and on the first day

  1. Talk to your child about what will happen at preschool: what they will do, how much fun it will be, and how many friends they will make.
  2. Create a special Goodbye, like a fist bump or a jingle (“See you later alligator, bye-bye dragonfly, gotta go buffalo!”) that you say every day.
  3. Let your little one pack their own backpack and choose a special snack. This helps to build positive anticipation, making preschool more of an adventure.
  4. Even if it’s hard, say a firm goodbye and leave. Don’t linger – your toddler can feel your tension, and this often provokes a meltdown.

Make the teacher your friend
In the case of a shy or sensitive child, engage with the teacher. Compare notes on how your child acts at school and at home, as well as which classroom activities your child particularly loves. Ask, “Are there things my child dislikes doing at school?”.