For the last 2-3 years, your baby has been growing fast, and in just a few months they will be old enough to go to school for the first time! But are they ready? Take advantage of these next few summer months to make sure your baby boy or baby girl is ready to start learning and developing important social and cognitive skills. Here are some pieces of advice from the AllKids Gilbert Pediatric Urgent Care staff on child development and deciding when to start them in school.
How Do I Know if They’re Ready?
Most first-time parents worry about if their child is ready to start school. Will they get along with the other kids? Will they behave and listen to their teacher? How will they perform in a structured educational environment? Will they be able to understand and keep up with the other kids? These concerns are natural and, as their parent, you are the person most suited to answer them. You know your child better than anyone and there are some questions you can answer for yourself to determine if your child is ready or not.
How independent is your child?
Most preschools require that incoming students be potty-trained and somewhat independent before starting school. This means they should be able to wash their hands by themselves, sleep alone, and feed themselves. If your child still does not know how to do these things on their own, now is the perfect time to teach them! As long as they have a basic inkling of independence, they will do well. Many children will throw fits and cry when their parents leave them at preschool, but after the first few weeks, they are usually thrilled to go to school.
If your child has not spent a lot of time away from you, the separation can be a drastic change for them. You can better prepare them by letting grandparents or babysitters watch them during the day. Try structuring parts of their day so they get an idea of what school will be like. The best thing to do for your son or daughter is communicate, give him/her love, and be patient as he/she adjusts to a new environment at preschool.
What’s the best age to enroll them?
Some private preschools begin admitting and enrolling children at age 2 while some children start preschool at age 4. Parents who have children with August or September birthdays often struggle with the decision to enroll their child early or hold them back until the next year. “Is it better if they are older than most other kids or better if they are young for their grade?” While there are a variety of opinions on what age to start children in school, just do your best to gauge YOUR child’s emotional, physical, and mental development.
If you still need help deciding if your child is ready, talk to your co-parent, your child’s babysitter or caregiver, your pediatrician doctor, or the teachers at your child’s future school. These individuals are great resources for you during this time.