Education Bug - a complete listing of educational resources

Follow EducationBug on Twitter

Preschool Readiness

When considering preschool readiness, there are a number of things to consider. Read this article for preschool readiness tips to help you determine if/when your child is ready. Early childhood programs differ from state-to-state. Get more information here.

Preschool readiness can be a major question for parents because sending a child to preschool is still, for some families, the first major separation of parent and child. Because of this, it may literally be the beginning of the child’s having a life that his or her parents do not share and in which other people besides the family and people the family chooses come to have important influence. Viewed in this light, parents want to make sure not only that their child is ready for pre-academic pursuits, but that their child has had the experiences they wanted him or her to have had before sending him or her out into the wider world.

In addition, once a child gets on the “going to school” train, it is harder to stop. Especially in states with a more open approach to the age at which it is compulsory for a child to be in school, the timing for enrolling the child may be a matter for deep consideration, rather than an automatic response when the third or fourth birthday rolls around. With compulsory age for school attendance ranging from five to eight, depending on the state of residence, there is leeway for parents to make a decision to keep their child home longer if they feel that it is in the child’s and/or the family’s best interest to do so.

In some contexts, for example, New York City, preschools are considered “feeder schools” for highly desirable private elementary schools. Therefore, getting a child into a particular preschool at a particular time can be more a matter of the parents’ plan for the child’s future than the child’s own readiness. In addition to other factors, these schools may limit the number of applications they accept, and the application process begins well before admissions, with applications being due at the end of the year before the fall your child will be admitted (i.e., your child may be 1.5). This may mean planning for your child’s admission to preschool well before you have any idea if your child is ready.

Preschool Admission Policies

Preschools are likely to have some admissions policies. For example, many schools have a lower age limit or 2 or 2.5 years old. Current students and siblings of current students may have priority. If the preschool is connected to an organization, such as a church, members may also be given priority over non-members. Preschools may have a tiered program, with potty-training being required at some level.

Guiding Questions

Besides these larger issues, preschool readiness has a number of facets. You can use these questions to help you assess:

  • Is the child ready to be separated from home and family?
  • Is the child ready to be on a schedule?
  • Is the child ready to spend time in a larger group?
  • Is the child interested in and excited about preschool attendance?
  • What will the child be giving up in order to attend preschool?
  • What are the choices for preschools in your area?
  • How do the various preschool philosophies and pedagogies fit with your child’s talents and disposition?
  • Does your child have any special needs that are likely to surface in a preschool environment, and is the preschool prepared to deal with them?
  • Does the preschool, itself, have admissions requirements?

Especially with a first child, education experts hint that children are often more ready to venture out and try something new than their parents are to let them go. This does not mean, however, that every two year old is ready for a preschool program, so judgment and care must be exercised.