As the mother of 3-year-old twins, I've often wondered whether my girls are ready for preschool. One minute they're diligently writing the first letter of their names, and the next minute they're wrestling over whose turn it is to use the carnation pink crayon.
Linda Hart, director of Foothill Bible Preschool in Upland, California, offers these readiness cues to parents trying to make the preschool decision:
- Level of separation anxiety. Most children experience separation anxiety now and then. However, if your child consistently goes through extended bouts of crying when you leave him with a caretaker, he may not be ready for the extended separation from you that preschool entails.
- No more diapers. Most preschools require children to be toilet trained; however, some daycare centers that offer preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds do not. Be sure to ask your prospective school.
- Interacting with others. Three-year-olds love to play with other kids, and while preschool is one environment where they learn to master basic social skills, it's important that your child has a fundamental understanding of sharing, taking turns, and cooperating, and is able to exhibit self-control.
- Ability to focus. Children will need at least a small attention span to stay focused on activities, story time, and lessons from the teacher. Notice how long your child can stick with a task. If he can work independently for 5 to 10 minutes, he can probably handle preschool.
- Observe your child. Take your child with you to visit one or two local preschools (be sure to check with the teacher in advance to know what day and time work best). Before you go, tell your child where you are going. While you chat with the teacher, watch how your child responds to the environment. Is she hiding behind you in fright or eager to explore?
- Pray for the right decision. Ask God to lead you to the most suitable learning environment for your child.
—Jill Eggleton Brett
Parents are a child's first teachers, and homeschooling can be an excellent alternative to preschool. Debra Bell, author of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling (Tommy Nelson) offers these suggestions to determine if homeschooling is for you:
- Attend a homeschooling seminar on getting started.
- Attend a state convention and curriculum fair.
- Spend the day with a homeschooling family.
- Attend a support group meeting.
- Subscribe to a state newsletter and other homeschool periodicals such as Homeschooling Today or Practical Homeschooling.
The following Web sites are specifically designed to help you with a home preschool curriculum:
—Jill Eggleton Brett
Copyright © 2002 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian Parenting Today magazine.
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March/April 2002, Vol. 14, No. 4, Page 19