Entering pre-kindergarten for one child may be a completely different experience for another. Some children begin preschool as a 4-year old, while other children may enter at the pre-kindergarten 3 level. With these different levels of maturity and age, the ‘readiness’ factor comes into play. Follow our guide below to understand what you should know before your child enters pre-K.
From an admissions standpoint, there is no direct advantage if your child has attended a pre-K program as a 3-year-old. However, if your child is not enrolled in a pre-K3 program, you might wish to consider other means for them to help prepare them for school. One example may be to enroll them in a Pre-Kindergarten playgroup.
Below are some additional things you might want to consider.
Feelings & Needs
For 4-year-old students, it is important that they are able to express how they are feeling. Expressing emotions and needs in a constructive way is necessary when being submerged into a new environment. For example, they might try to find ways to express anger, the need to go to the bathroom or a feeling of happiness. In order to broach the subject of feelings and needs, check out some of these book selections below:
- Mean Soup – by Betsey Everett
- When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry – by Molly Bang
- The Feelings Book by Todd Parr
It is natural for children to develop anxiety when separating from their parents. For some children, this may occur during the first day of school drop off, while for with others it might develop a few weeks into the school year. Addressing anxiety and simulating the drop off/departure experience is a key tool for building confidence and laying a strong foundation for this transition.
There are wonderful resources available about how to prepare your child for separation anxiety. See a few of the following books and articles below.
- Helping Preschoolers Cope with Separation Anxiety
- I Don't Want to Go to School: Helping Children Cope with Separation Anxiety (Let's Talk)
- You Weren't with Me
Additional Skills to Consider
There are several skills that should be practiced prior to your child’s first day of pre-kindergarten. A few questions you might want to ask yourself in order to assess your child’s readiness are as follows:Listening Skills
- Can my child follow directions?
- Can my child process what’s being asked of them?
- Does my child have a strong attention span (can they sit and listen when you’re reading a book)?
- Can my child focus on a task at hand?
- Can my child eat on their own?
- Does my child mind their manners?
- Do they say please and thank you?
- Can they keep their hands to themselves?
Many factors go into whether your child is ready for a pre-kindergarten experience, but it’s clear that with the right tools from parents, caregivers and loved ones, your child will be ready to handle any challenge that they are presented with and are able to carry these tools with them as they navigate the older grades.