When Andrea Barrett put her 3-year-old son Miles in preschool at age 2, she knew he was ready. The Wheaton mom said Miles listened, followed directions and was excited to play with the other kids.
But other parents may be uncertain if their children are ready to start preschool. To ease parents' concerns, two education experts identified important things parents can do to prepare their children and ultimately determine if they are ready for preschool.
When a child asks to go to school, chances are he or she is definitely ready for preschool, said Michelle Scharinger, Carol Stream Elementary District 93 preschool coordinator and preschool psychologist. Parents should also consider preschool if their children need to interact more with peers.
Scharinger said public preschools will accept children between the ages of 3 and 5, but some private and park district preschools accept children who are 2 or younger. It's a parent's personal choice whether or not his or her child is ready, she said.
To better prepare children for preschool, Scharinger suggests parents interact with their children as much as possible.
“If you play and talk with your kids, development will occur,” she said. “Parents need to think back to when they were little and play with their child that same way. If you're looking to get them ready for those experiences in school, that's the best and most natural way.”
Scharinger said parents should make time every day to read at least one book to their child, because reading exposes children to different subjects, and expands their ability to ask questions and develop vocabulary. Also, sitting and listening while mom or dad reads aloud helps children develop listening skills they will need in preschool, she said.
Ginnie Elmer, director of Village Preschool in Arlington Heights, said reading picture books about going to preschool can help reassure children, especially ones that are shy, by giving them an idea of what to expect.
Elmer said parents don't need to worry if their children are emotionally ready because preschool will help them feel comfortable being away from their parents for a little while. Separation anxiety may occur with some children when they start preschool, but having a regular routine and being away from your child for short periods of time can help, Elmer said.
“I don't think a child necessarily needs to be (emotionally) ready for preschool, because they become ready as they experience class time and learn that they can be away from mom with these caring adults, and have fun and make some friends and that's OK,” Elmer said.
Slowly spending more time away from your child, whether it is a trip to the grocery store for a few hours, or putting your child in a Parents Day Out Program once a week, can help them adjust better to preschool, Elmer said.
“It's important to understand your child's developmental age so that your expectations are realistic,” Elmer said. “Giving them lots of love and attention is definitely the most important thing.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.