Deciding to send your child to preschool can be a very difficult decision. Are they ready? What does “ready” for preschool even mean? How old should they be? And is it really worth spending all the money?

As a preschool teacher I recommend to send your child to a good preschool. In fact, research shows that children who attend just one year of high quality preschool are more likely to do well in school than those who do not attend preschool. Children who attend preschool are more likely to have long-term educational success, attend post high school education and even have a higher income in their careers.

Why is that? There are important lifelong skills being taught in the early years. As identified: Getting along with others, including parents, teachers and peers in decision making, strongsocial and emotional skills ,Following directions, Identifying and regulating one’s emotions behaviour,helping others ,Thinking of appropriate solutions to conflict Persisting on task, Engaging in social conversation and cooperative play ,Feeling good about oneself and others.

The first question to ask is what fits your needs as a parent. Do you need full day care or are you able to manage a mid-day pick-up? Would an afternoon session interrupt your baby’s nap time? Do you need a break from full time parenting? There aren’t right or wrong answers to these questions, but it is important to select a program that will fit your needs, as well as your child’s. It is OK to send your child to preschool because YOU are ready! Not only do you get a break, but they learn valuable life skills and will be more ready for kindergarden.

Preschool teachers typically prefer the child to communicate their needs and working on age appropriate self-help skills. These skills include tasks such as dressing and feeding themselves and being able to follow simple directions. Not all preschool programs require toilet training, so be sure to check with your program about their requirements. If they do require it, you’ll have a goal time frame to have your child ready!For many children, preschool is their first experience in a structured setting with teachers and groups of children. It’s an opportunity to learn to share, follow instructions, and begin the foundation for learning that will occur in elementary school.As kindergarten becomes more academic, many parents look to preschool to launch their child on the path to success in school. At the same time, parents may worry that the current trend to focus on pre-math and pre-literacy skills in preschool cuts into important play time and pushes a child to grow up too fast. It’s a confusing issue, especially with friends and family offering different opinions and advice.

Fortunately, in selecting a preschool, parents aren’t forced to choose between protecting a child’s play time and making sure she’s ready for kindergarten. A high-quality early childhood education program will offer children both.

It’s hard to believe it’s already time to be making these decisions for fall with snow still on the ground and the polar vortex upon us! However, many programs have already begun enrolling for their fall sessions. Take the time to start looking ahead at your plans for your child to be sure you have the opportunity to select the program that best meets your and your child’s needs, and to be sure that they are ready for kindergarten!

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