Summer may have only just started, but In 2013, approximately 42% of three-year-olds and 68% of four-year-olds were enrolled in preprimary programs throughout the United States. Although the majority of parents plan to enroll their children in preschool, knowing exactly when to do so can be a bit of a challenge. How do you know if your child is truly ready for the preschool classroom? While every child develops differently — and every school has different requirements — the following preschool checklist can give you a pretty good idea about whether your family should start exploring local preschool program options this year.
Your Preschool Checklist: Is Your Child Ready?
- Reading and Writing
During this early phase of life, your child won’t be expected to come into the classroom with a certain reading level. It may help if they can display certain signs of readiness in this area, including trying to write their name, doodling or scribbling, attempting to write down numbers, holding writing utensils, recognizing certain letters, holding a book properly and/or turning the pages, and simply enjoying having a book read to them. These signs indicate an eagerness and an affinity to make progress in the classroom.
- Motor Skills
In terms of physical development, parents should be on the lookout for certain signs of preschool readiness. Although you might not think that bouncing a ball or playing a game of catch could indicate that your child is a good candidate for preschool, mastering tasks like these can actually tell parents a lot. The ability to put together an easy puzzle, playing with building blocks or LEGOs, jumping on one foot, riding a tricycle, tying shoelaces, cutting with scissors, or enjoying outdoor playtime can all point towards a child being ready to go into the preschool classroom.
- Creativity and Reasoning
our child’s growing ability to use their imagination and explore their own curiosity about the world may play an important role in your preschool checklist. If they’re eager to use a variety of materials and tools to create pieces of art, show a basic understanding of shapes and objects, likes to imitate their favorite songs or rhythms, participates in dramatic play or likes to play pretend, can recall short sequences, matches objects, or shows an interest in how objects fit together and function, these are all great signs of early development. Remember that there’s a lot that can be discovered through play, so be sure to engage their interest in these areas on a regular basis.
- Social and Emotional Development
Even at this young age, your child might start to show initial signs of independence and social development. For example, their initiation and maintenance of independent play and their willingness to spend time without their parents (at a relative’s house, a play date, or even while getting dressed in the morning) can tell you that they’ll be a great fit for preschool. Responding well to routines, expressing their emotions and needs through their words, taking turns and cooperating with others, enjoying group activities, and following instructions consistently can also indicate this to you.
- Other Milestones
Most of the suggestions included in this preschool checklist are merely a good place to start. If your child possesses some of these skills but not others, do not be discouraged; your choice of preschool won’t discriminate against children who are still learning! But keep in mind that there are some milestones that may be requirements for preschool: namely, being potty-trained. Some preschools are willing to be flexible on this, while others request that all students will have at least made substantial progress in this area. Be sure to ask about this at every school on your list and work on this skill at home during this process.
Every parent’s preschool checklist for student readiness may look a little different, depending on that child’s development and your school. These points can be a helpful jumping-off point for families who are unsure about whether to start the application process or wait another year.