Is My Child Ready for Preschool?
Earlier this month, we celebrated our Catholic Schools during National Catholic Schools Week through activities, prayer and open houses. With these events in mind, it makes this a great time to talk about the youngest learners in our school communities, our preschoolers. For many of our preschool students, walking through our school doors is the first time they will experience a learning environment outside of their home. With them, come their families who are full of questions: Is this the right school for my child? Will my child be safe? In addition, the big question – Is my child ready?
Readiness for preschool is fluid. There is not one set of criteria laid out to be the standard of readiness for all children. It truly depends on the child, family and school. Kelli Davenport, the site director at one of our early learning centers, says, “I believe that every child is ready for preschool, but ‘ready’ can be different for each child. The key is knowing that your child’s transition to preschool is going to look different from a neighbor’s child or that of a family friend. Allowing for this difference will certainly make the process a stress free one for you.”
Many times the focus on preschool readiness is whether a child knows certain academic concepts. This is highly misleading. For young children their social and emotional readiness is most certainly a vital key to their success in a preschool or Pre-K setting. Sharrone Washington is the Director of Curriculum and Staff Development at one of our elementary schools. She states that they look for children who are able to separate from their parents/caregivers with ease for short periods of time. Being able to socially adjust to a new environment and new caregivers is vital. “I may ask: Are they ready to play and learn in a new environment? Are they ready to learn and strengthen their independence skills,” Ms. Davenport says.
To pull it all together, preschool readiness is something that cannot be standardized. Preparing your child to start preschool is a special time for the whole family. Focusing on their social emotional readiness will give them the foundational tools they need. Take comfort in knowing that wherever your child is developmentally, there are teachers ready to help take a bit of stress out of the process. Ms. Washington says it perfectly, “We know that the transition to Pre-K is challenging for not only the child but the entire family. We are looking for students and families with an open heart and an open mind!”
Roshon Casey-Lee is an early childhood education professional with over 20 years of experience in the field. She is currently the Director of Early Childhood Programs for the Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Schools Office.