Hey there – Caitlin here on the blog this week!
Since Spring is registration season for most preschools, I’m here to talk about how to tell if your kid is ready and how Lil Helper can help make the transition easier.
A little about me, I’ve been a preschool teacher for four years, and worked in kids/youth programming for ten.
Preschool is definitely where I was meant to be, and I love watching these little humans gain independence and confidence as they start their school journey.
I’ve noticed there is often a difference between what teachers look for and what parents worry about. Here are 3 ‘do’s’ for preschool readiness, and 3 ‘don’ts’.
Don’t worry about…
1. If your child doesn’t know their ABC’s and 123’s
More and more programs are recognizing the importance of play based learning. With play based learning, skills and ideas are built into fun activities which helps kids be more successful. For example, in a play based classroom, you might see playdough, a dry erase board, and a letter scavenger hunt to help build early literacy, as opposed to worksheets and posters.
Preschool is a time to gain confidence, learn school routines, and build friendship skills. If your local program is focused on ‘academics’ then that’s ok too – the teacher/staff will help your child learn. Don’t feel as though your kid needs to have these down before they get there.
2.They aren’t 100% potty trained
If you’re child is not completely potty trained don’t sweat it too much. When we are talking about day to day life with 3-5 year olds, everyone knows that accidents happen. If there is a medical reason that your child isn’t potty trained yet, be sure to let the preschool know as well. Talk to the staff if you’re concerned and learn their expectations.
If you’re still nervous, keep an eye out for soon-to-be-released Zero-A undies – Lil Helper’s very own training pants! Cloth trainers are less likely to cause regression than disposables, because they contain the mess while still allowing your child to feel that they are wet. Also, be sure to grab a dry/wet bag and stock it with an extra change of clothes or two just in case.
3.They can’t write their name
I’ve never needed a student to sign a legal document at preschool, so it is totally unnecessary that they write their name.
Spot the difference: one of these things has no place at preschool!
Instead, help your child learn to recognize their name, as they may need to spot it to know where to put their backpack, etc.
You can also help your child build their fine motor skills by giving them lots of access to colouring, playdough, and fingerpaints! Writing will come later. Preschool is about laying a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning, not checking off academic boxes.
Tip: use crayons that are broken in half. A short, broken crayon helps build the muscles needed for proper pencil grasp down the road.
Do ask yourself…
1. Are they eager to start school? Does my child know how to ask for help when they need it?
If your child seems excited about starting school this is the best sign of readiness.
If your child is more shy, or has rarely been away from you, ask about open house opportunities, where the kids have a chance to explore the room and meet people with you before they go to school alone.
Talk with the staff about routines for saying goodbye – a quick and confident goodbye from you can make the transition much easier on your little one.
2. How are their gross and fine motor skills? Do they have good body awareness? How do they hold a crayon?
These skills are the main focus of most preschool programs, but certainly it helps to work on them at home. Building these skills will give your child more confidence to move around the classroom.
You can build all these skills through play! Hop scotch, simon says, and simple arts and crafts are just a few ways you can build on these at home.
3. Does my child have good friendship skills?
Model manners and kindness at home first. Teachers are there to help guide your child but preschool is often the first time children are navigating friendships on their own.
Phrases like ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘Can you help me?’, ‘Can I have a turn?’, as well as the confidence to tell a peer ‘you can have it when I’m done’ will all go a long way to helping your child build strong social skills.
Above all, remember that a good program is filled with staff who want your child to succeed just as much as you do. Be kind and patient as your little one moves into this next level of independence.
Looking for more tools to help your child succeed? Send a smocket to help your child be independent during sensory play and wipes to help them learn self care. Lil Helper is so much more than just diapers, so be sure to join the Facebook group Lil Helper: Unsnapped for more school ready products (like the soon to be released reuseable snack bags!)