Is your child ready for preschool?
It depends. Here’s why your child’s age isn’t the only indicator of when to start formal schooling.
Vikki Mioduszewski Published: 12/5/2017
As a parent, you are your child’s first, and perhaps most important, teacher. Here’s why: 85 percent of brain development takes place before the age of 3, and 90 percent by age 5, so the foundation for your child’s future success in school and life begins at home.
“It’s never too early to help your child learn,” said Terrie Andrews, PhD, a pediatric clinical psychologist and administrator of Baptist Behavioral Health. “Reading at home, singing together and playing age-appropriate games together are all so beneficial for a developing young brain.”
So, how do you know when it’s time to transition from a home or daycare setting to preschool?
“Typically, that should take place between 2 and 4 years old, with the average preschooler starting around age 3,” said Dr. Andrews. “Signs that your child may be ready for preschool include good social interaction, a developing vocabulary, knowing basic colors and numbers and meeting developmental milestones on time.”
But how do you know which preschool program is the right one for your family? There are a lot of factors to consider, such as cost, location, accreditation, teacher qualifications, safety and even forms of discipline.
“You want to do your research about the various preschool curriculums,” Dr. Andrews said. “Some focus on academics while others focus on academics, social/emotional development, manners/etiquette, etc. There are also philosophies that preschools generally adhere to, such as a play-based or academic model.
“Other options include the Waldorf-inspired, Montessori and Reggio Emilia-inspired models. Considering your child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as their personality, will determine which model/philosophy you and your child are attracted to.”
Whichever preschool program you choose, know that you are setting the stage for your child to benefit from a lifetime of learning. Your role as parent and teacher will continue to influence your child throughout his or her academic career.
“Social interaction is one of the best activities you can demonstrate and engage in with your child,” said Dr. Andrews. “He or she will mirror you and your actions, which can provide a solid foundation for learning.”
Tips for Early Learning
- Talk, read and sing together every day!
- When you read with your child, have him or her turn the pages. Take turns labeling pictures with your child.
- Use "teachable moments" while driving or at the grocery store to discuss what you see such as colors, shapes and numbers.
- If you are ever worried about your child’s development, don’t wait! Acting early can make a big difference. Remember, you know your child best. Talk with your child’s doctor if you have concerns. Early testing by a psychologist may be beneficial.
Source: Early Learning Coalition of Duval