Your friends have enrolled their toddlers into a pre-K program, but you are not sure whether your son or daughter is ready or whether you wish to send your child to pre-K at all. This decision should be based on your child and your beliefs, not a friend’s recommendation. Learn more about the pre-K experience in the information below, brought to you by the Diocese of Orlando Office of Catholic Schools, which offers early learning programs within each of its elementary schools in Orlando , as well as in five stand alone Early Learning Centers.
- Home environment: If you are a stay-at-home parent juggling several enrichment activities during the day for your children, enrolling your child in a pre-K program may give you a little time during the day to catch up on household chores, run errands, or make appointments. Some families feel overwhelmed with preparing their child for kindergarten and welcome the opportunity a pre-K program gives their child. Other parents may feel their child can learn the same amount or more at home until he or she is ready for kindergarten. The decision has to be yours. Keep in mind that youngsters are extremely social, and the ability to meet other children their age is a golden opportunity for many of them.
- Health issues: Some preschoolers sail through the years without any signs of illness while others are plagued with one ear infection or sinus infection after another. Children with ongoing health issues may not be physically prepared for the rigors of constant interaction with their peers. Wait until their immune systems are more likely to withstand the inevitable passage of germs in preschool.
- Apron strings: Separation anxiety is very real for toddlers, and many find it unbearable to be away from Mom or Dad. Likewise, parents may not be prepared for their toddler to be under someone else’s care for an extended time. While most children acclimate to being away from their parents within a few minutes of separation, others simply cannot cope. You can easily see your child’s reaction to a new environment by taking him or her to a new location with one of your friends and leaving for a short while. If the reaction is favorable after the initial outburst, your child may be more prepared for pre-K than you believed.
- Potty training: Some pre-K programs require that all children be potty trained before they are able to participate in their program. This rule is not universal and differs from one pre-K program to the next. For instance, some programs only accept toddlers who are fully potty trained while others accept students who wear pull-up diapers. Because their peers are able to use the bathroom on their own, many toddlers on the verge of being fully potty trained are able to self-motivate to follow their example.
- Talk to me: Communication in any form is a necessary part of interaction with others. If your child struggles to communicate, it may be too frustrating to make others understand what he or she needs, which often leads to outbursts. If a child is able to point to a bathroom door when it is time to potty or to lead another child by the hand to a toy when it is time to play, this may be all the communication necessary to abate frustrations.
- Routine days: School, especially at the pre-K age, is all about routine. Children rely on the evitable procedures, teachers, students, and toys. This constant structured environment gives them a sense of security and safety, allowing any new information to be more quickly segued into the daily routine.
With these tips in mind, it will be much easier to determine whether your child is ready to make the step to pre-K. The Catholic Diocese of Orlando offers pre-K schools in Orlando for you to consider. Give them a call at 407-246-4900 to ask about their requirements for pre-K, and browse their website concerning education, learning, and their schools.