Preschool is a great way for your toddler to learn life skills and make friends, however, it’s not always easy to choose the best time to start.
When is the right time?
There are many reasons to start your toddler at preschool. It may be your need to return to work, a new sibling on the way, or your feeling that they would benefit from the outside interaction with other children. No matter the reasons, it’s often overwhelming deciding what age is the best time for your toddler to head off on their own into the world of daycare. There are some indicators that will help you decide if they are ready and how often to send them.
Is your toddler toilet trained?
While this isn’t a truly deciding factor, it may be a necessity depending on the childcare venue you are wanting to send them to. Some centres cater for children from babies upward and children under the age of three so toilet training isn’t a necessity. However, for childcare centres that deal with children aged three and over only, toilet training is expected.
Tips for choosing the best childare >>
Does your toddler cope away from you?
Again, not a deciding factor as most children will adapt to the new world of preschool quite quickly, but if your child isn’t used to being away or with sitters or other family members, the entire process may be overwhelming. If your child hasn’t been away from your side, it’s often best to start them with a half-day to one day per week so they can adapt to their new environment.
Is there a sibling on the way?
If you’re expecting a new family member sometime in the near future, starting your toddler in preschool can help them to discover their own very special big world that helps them feel grown up and gives them an interest other than you and their home life. It’s ideal to start your toddler at preschool sometime before your new baby arrives to give them time to settle into their new big person life and not feel ousted by the baby.
Does your child cope socially?
While social interaction is one of the preferred reasons for parents sending their toddler to school, it can be stressful for a child who has not previously learned how to interact socially. If your child hasn’t had much interaction with other children, then starting off with a playgroup while you’re still there will allow them to become used to a peer environment before being sent off into the solo preschool situation.
Learn about how to make the school transition easier >>
Introducing your child slowly to preschool or peer environments if you’re able to can help with the transition process. When choosing a preschool, be sure to find one that suits your child and one that feels right to you. If you find your child isn’t settling or enjoying their new school, changing is always an option or you can wait a while and try again.