There comes a time in a parents’ life when they have to decide if this is the year their toddler will start preschool. Many children will complete two or even three years of preschool, whereas others might just have one year of preschool before transitioning into kindergarten. Whether your child is two-years-old or five, one of the most important things to consider is whether they are physically and emotionally ready for preschool.
This is a hard thing to consider, and frankly, there is no firm divide between “ready” and “not ready” for preschool. A child may have highly developed motor skills but lack communication skills, whereas another might be able to write their name before they are potty trained. Every child is different, and the best way to find out if your little one is ready for preschool is to get in touch with our Chicago preschool and set up a consultation! Otherwise, keep reading below to learn a few ways to tell if your child might be ready for preschool.
How Our Chicago-Area Preschools Work
In general, our classrooms are broken up by age. Our classrooms are usually divided by age, but occasionally three-year-olds will be placed with four-year-olds, or we might place four- and five-year-olds together if it makes sense for the developmental stage they are at. While inside the classroom, we use the information gathered from our initial screening process to instruct how we teach your unique child. As they continue to learn and mature, we will adjust our strategies as necessary to ensure your child is being empowered and challenged while remaining comfortable.
What Children Learn At Our Educational Preschool
While we are preparing our oldest kiddos for kindergarten, all of our classrooms, regardless of age, are taught with a curriculum that focuses on four important factors: physical development, social and emotional development, thinking and intellectual development, and communication and language development.
By developing these four vital areas in each classroom, a child can stay with Toddler Town from two-years-old through pre-kindergarten and continue to develop and grow while they are with us.
Why Does A Child Need To Be “Ready” For Preschool
We want all children to love school. If preschool is a frustrating experience for them, they might not love kindergarten, and a hard time in kindergarten can lead to falling behind in first grade, and so forth. Children who aren’t developmentally ready for a full-day of learning, playing, and socializing might do better in a less structured daycare environment where they can continue to grow.
Your Child May Be Ready For Preschool If…
They Are Potty Trained
Most children have an accident or two during the school year, but many preschools expect students to be fully or mostly potty trained by the time the school year starts. This isn’t just because it is easier for teachers and aids to instruct the class without being interrupted with diaper changes. It is a major developmental cue that the child is also learning how to follow directions, how to control their body, and is in a good mindset for learning — all of which will be important in preschool!
They Have Low Levels Of Separation Anxiety
If your child has never spent a few hours away from mom or dad, it might be time for a trial run. Some toddlers have major separation anxiety and preschool might be emotionally exhausting for them because of it. Others might not bat an eye when you try to hug them goodbye. While many children have meltdowns during dropoff time for the first few days, they should soon feel more comfortable and look forward to school each morning.
If your child is not used to being around other adults, we suggest scheduling a playdate where they are with another parent, doing a few days at a drop-in daycare, or even spending the weekend at the grandparents’ house. This will give you a good idea of their level of anxiety when you are not around.
They Are Independent
All children will need help here and there, but a good sign that your little one is ready for preschool is if they can complete age-appropriate tasks by themselves. This can include washing their hands, feeding themselves, coloring quietly at a table, playing with toys by themselves, and buttoning or zipping their pants on their own.
These signs of independence show that your child might do really well in a classroom setting.
They Can Follow Directions
Children who are preschool-ready can follow simple directions to do things like put their coats on, line up with the rest of the class, and gather supplies from around the classroom when instructed.
They Can Go-Go-Go (Almost) All Day
Some toddlers do not have the stamina needed to start a full-day school program. It can be mentally and physically exhausting for them, even if they do take their afternoon nap. If your child is used to taking two or three long naps per day, they might not be ready for preschool. If you feel comfortable, try reducing their naps to just one per day in the afternoon, which is similar to our preschool schedule. If they can continue to function throughout the day on one nap, they likely have the stamina to succeed in our preschool program.
They Are Curious And Explorative
If a child frequently asks questions, runs off to explore, or gets fascinated with a bug on the ground, they will likely enjoy being in the classroom. Children who are naturally curious and love to learn often have better focus when a teacher is explaining something to them and can repeat key information back.
They Like Socializing
All children go through stages of extreme shyness, hiding behind mom or dad or being unable to talk with other children or adults. If your child enjoys making friends and talking to new people, they will probably have an easy emotional transition into preschool. If your child is showing other signs that they are ready for preschool but are still quite shy, take them to events or parks with other children. Help them facilitate new friendships and start conversations. The more they practice, the more comfortable they will be socializing with their fellow classmates.
They Have An Attention Span
Notice, we didn’t say they have an amazing attention span. However, children who can focus on one task for 10 or 15 minutes will likely succeed in preschool. Most preschool activities, depending on the age and the particular class, can last anywhere from five minutes to half an hour. Your child’s teacher will get a feel for the attention span of the class and base their lessons around that.
Choose Toddler Town As Your Chicago Preschool
At Toddler Town, we really take the “school” part of preschool seriously. While our classrooms are full of fun and adventures, we also ensure our students learn something every day. Our students learn about everything from their ABCs and 123s to social studies and science, all at an age-appropriate level.
If you are looking for an educational preschool in Chicago or Evanston, Illinois, we would love to speak with you. Feel free to call our preschools for more information about enrollment, assessments, and preschool readiness. We look forward to hearing from you!