Preschool Shmeeschool: Who Needs It?
There's just something about the weeble-wobble way that preschoolers move around, stumbling constantly over their own limbs, and being surprised at half of the things they do. But mostly, it's exciting to watch a preschooler as they come into their own, slowly becoming aware of the kind of person that he/she is going to be, rather than the tiny baby they were only a year or two before.
My youngest cousin, for example, is a tow-headed little thing, feisty as anything, and protects his older sister with all his might (which while he thinks it's a lot, is not much). He takes karate lessons, skateboards, loves to toss a football around, and go fishing with his dad. But where baby D's personality really shines is in the moments where he lets his older sister and her friends paint his toes, or unexpectedly parallel parks his mini-car between boxes, and when he flips into a pool without an inkling that he will do so. In these moments we see the person struggling to come through and define a personality all his own, not just the preschooler who is trotted to his different practices by his parents.
While many parents may find this to be an admittedly sad time (watching their babies move from infancy to childhood and inch closer to kindergarten can be difficult to accept), it is also an exciting one. Acceptance into kindergarten ensures parents that their children are on the right path, and growing into themselves, while learning about the world around them. But how do you know if your child is ready for kindergarten? Though the kindergartens that you look into will definitely let you know, and your child's preschool teacher can help you decide, parents are often left with lingering doubts about whether their tiny human is ready to enter the big leagues.
• Does your preschooler take instructions and follow them?
Often a key factor to look out for, your child should be ready and able to take directions and follow them in order to keep up with the teacher and their peers in kindergarten. Having your child enter kindergarten without a basis for following directions can result in them disrupting not only their education, but of the others in their class as well.
• Is your child somewhat self-sufficient?
By the time your child is about to enter kindergarten they should be able to do basic things for themselves. Using the bathroom (including knowing when they need to use it), being able to put on their own jackets, and understanding their body's needs for hydration are just a few things that your child should comprehend upon arrival to kindergarten.
• What are your child's fine motor skills like?
Your child should have a basic understanding of holding pencils, markers, and scissors before entering kindergarten. These fine motor skills will be honed in the school setting, but they should still have an understanding of them prior to entering the classroom.
• Does your preschooler have some knowledge of their ABC's and 1,2,3's?
While your child will definitely become familiar with the alphabet and counting in kindergarten, most teachers expect that your toddler will have some understanding of the basics before they enter. If your child is in preschool, begin working with them on name recognition, and counting to ten, to help give them an edge on their education as they enter the kindergarten curriculum.
• How are your preschooler's social interactions?
Your toddler will soon be interacting with children all day in kindergarten, as opposed to the handful of hours while in preschool. Knowing how to take turns and share will make their transition into a full-time education program go smoothly and successfully. Additionally, being capable and willing to interact in group settings shows emotional and social competence that is necessary to move forward in schooling as a toddler.
If you nodded along to any of these points and thought they applied to your child, then you may be ready to look toward moving your toddler from preschool to kindergarten. As mentioned above, discuss your options with your child's preschool teacher and evaluate what their kindergarten classroom is looking for in terms of social development. At the end of the day, however, no one knows your toddler better than yourself. From birth to preschool, you've watched them grow and develop physically, emotionally, and cognitively, while turning into their own particular version of a tiny human.