Whether you are planning on sending your child to public school, private school, or you are going to home school, allowing your toddler to go to preschool a few days a week can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you.
Preschool is different from traditional school settings in that it allows children to play freely, explore and develop their creativity in a constructive and structured setting. Many parents allow their toddler to attend preschool for a year or two before beginning regular school instruction at a private or public school. Home school parents also sometimes send their children to regular preschools before the child is ready to begin Kindergarten.
Most preschools run in the mornings, although some schools offer afternoon hours for older children. Younger preschoolers are usually two to three years old, potty trained, and have some verbal skills. Your child should be able to communicate basic needs and wants with his teacher before beginning preschool.
Each child must bring a backpack to preschool with a spare change of clothes in case of a potty-training accident or craft mishap. Your child’s preschool backpack should also contain wet wipes, pull-ups if needed, sunblock for warm weather, a snack, and a toy to share on show-and-tell mornings. Some teachers also request that parents provide art supplies, such as paper and crayons, for each child. If your child’s preschool has limited funding, you may be required to bring additional items, as well. Speak with your child’s preschool teacher about class requirements before your child begins school.
When your child arrives at preschool, he will place his backpack in his own, personal cubby. Your child’s cubby is a special place where he gets to keep all of his personal items, such as a jacket or hat. Your child should wash his hands before you leave to minimize germ exposure within the classroom.
After you hug and kiss your child goodbye, the preschool day will begin. Most preschools follow a daily schedule so that each child knows what to expect next. Young children, especially those who are nervous about being away from a parent, do very well with structured schedules because the child learns what to expect and how the day will go. This prevents surprises, which sometimes make children uncomfortable.
Preschool time usually includes a craft period related to a weekly theme, such as a letter of the alphabet or a type of animal. Children will have a time to play freely with toys in the classroom, a time to play outside if weather permits, and story time. Most preschools also include a snack time and, if your child attends full-day preschool, a rest period.
Preschool focuses greatly on language development and creativity, so preschool instructors work hard to carry on conversations with young children and teach them new words and sentence patterns. Many preschool teachers also incorporate songs into their classrooms, which makes memorization and learning fun for children. If a child learns something in a song, it is much easier for him to recall the lesson and remember what he learned in class.
Sending your child to preschool is a personal decision that each parent must make. Evaluate your child’s needs before you make your choice, and remember that even if preschool is not right for your child, he will still be able to succeed and function socially and academically when he begins elementary school. Some parents choose not to send their children to preschool if the child is not verbally or emotionally ready, or if the child has a medical condition, such as food allergies. If you choose not to send your child to preschool, incorporate preschool-like activities into your daily life, such as craft projects and drawing time to inspire independent thinking and learning skills in your child.