Preschool is sometimes a child’s first experience away from his primary caregiver. You may be wondering if he is physically ready to leave your capable hands. Will he be able to use the bathroom? Open his milk at snacktime? Use scissors? What is expected of your preschooler and what help is available are important questions to ask when enrolling your child in a preschool program.
Some preschools require children be potty trained before enrolled in a program. Ask if this is a requirement and if help will be available for your child should she need to use the bathroom. It may be easier to dress your preschooler in elastic waist pants when he goes to school, avoiding the challenge of buttons and zippers. Children this age often can use the bathroom independently, including pulling pants down and up and washing hands. They may need help wiping after a bowel movement. Tour the preschool and look at the bathroom to see how child-friendly it is. Smaller toilets, lower sinks and accessible soap and towels enable a child to better master an independent trip to the bathroom.
Meal or Snack Time
If the preschool program includes a meal or snack time, ask about the routine and tour the area, if possible. Preschoolers may lack the fine motor skills and strength to open some packages, like milk cartons. Ask how many adults will be available to help. If your child is required to bring his own snack or lunch, pack items that are easy to open and practice at home. Few preschools require students to be able to open a pouch of fruit snacks before enrolling, so if he struggles, don’t worry about it. The strength and coordination will come with time and practice. Do ask about food allergies in the classroom. This may limit what parents can send to school as a treat, snack or lunch.
Putting on a coat can be the biggest challenge of a preschooler’s day. Practice the magic method at home. Lay the child’s coat on the ground in front of him so that the neckhole is closest to the child’s feet. Instruct him to put his arms in the sleeves, then pull his arms, and the coat, over his head. If done correctly, the coat will be on the right way as he pushes his arms further into the sleeves. Zippers can be a challenge for preschoolers, but this skill can improve with practice. If your preschooler cannot tie his shoes, send slip-on shoes or those with Velcro fasteners. Ask the preschool about its policy on sunscreen use. Many will not apply sunscreen to your child, even if you provide it. In this case, slather your child with sunscreen before sending her to school.
Preschool is designed to get children ready for school, and it is likely they will practice their fine motor skills while there. Holding a pencil, cutting a line with scissors and drawing shapes are developing skills for a three and four year old child. Preschool teachers may expect children to sit criss cross applesauce for storytime or other listening activities and standing in line. She will need to manage the zipper on her backpack and hang her coat on a hook. Practice these classroom basics at home by playing school, and your child will be more confident of her capabilities that first day of preschool.