As our babies turn into toddlers, it’s usually the time we start thinking about the best age for pre-kindergarten and whether your child (and you) will be ready. Since every child is different, there is not a set age that says your child will be ready, but there are ways you can tell if they are.
What age does prekindergarten start?
In Atlanta, to be eligible for the state’s Pre-K program, your child must be a resident of Georgia and at least 4 years of age on Sept. 1 of the school year. Other areas may be different ages for pre-k, some accept children into prekindergarten from age 2-3, others start at age 5.
It also depends on your personal circumstances, work and commitments how manageable it would be to send your child to pre-kindergarten. If you have a lot going on such as new house move, it may help to settle in first before another big move to preschool. If you’re not in a hurry to send your child to preschool that’s ok too!
Some children and parents are ready earlier than others, especially those with older siblings they may want to join in the exciting world of schooling. Other children need more stimulation and activity every day and so preschool would be the best option for them, but ultimately only you will know if your child is ready.
How to know if your child is at the right age for pre-kindergarten?
There are a number of signs we can look for in our little ones that tell us they are ready for pre-kindergarten. You don’t need to check every single box before they can go because kids are at various levels when they enter pre-kindergarten, but is helpful for the kids to have developed certain skills to ensure they adapt well when they start.
Here are some key indicators to see whether your child is ready and at the right age for pre-kindergarten:
Your child doesn’t need to be a perfect linguist, but the best age for pre-k is after your child has learnt how to use their language skills for tasks such as making a request or describing something. It can be super frustrating for children if they don’t feel understood when they are trying to explain something or want something. Often the parents can understand, but a new preschool teacher may find it more challenging. Helping your child to speak clearly with common words for things like colors, shapes, toys, foods and clothing will really help at pre-kindergarten.
Is your child ok with being separated from you for a few hours? Do they cope well with other children? How is their temperament? All of these things can affect your decision of whether your child is ready for preschool. If you drop them off at a friends or at grandmas house, observe how they are to be left to get on and have fun and you can gage how ready they may be for pre-kindergarten. When you drop them off, you can say reassuring things like ‘I will be back at a specific time to pick you up’, they will get used to this when you drop them off at preschool.
- Social skills
It’s great to see your child interacting with other children their age as they navigate the world and if they enjoy initiating playtime with others, it’s a great sign that they will love preschool. Group play and activities is another great practice to have before they start preschool so they can experience this dynamic, listening as a group. Playing alone is another great skill to have in preschool as they can focus their attention on whatever they are doing at the time. After a morning of playtime and lunch usually comes quiet time or a nap, if your child responds well to consistent routine, it’s a good sign they are the right age for pre-k.
- Motor skills
Running, jumping, standing on one foot, riding a tricycle, balancing, and kicking a ball are all great activities that build motor skills and can be good indicators if children are ready for preschool. Practice some of these activities with your little one to build up their strength and confidence to take part in many of the activities that take place at pre-kindergarten. Other useful motor skills for preschool are things like simple puzzle solving, building blocks and beginning to hold a pencil correctly.
And finally, they tell you! When the little ones start mentioning they want to do activities such as drawing, playing in the sandbox, socializing, or asking to go to school like their siblings, you know they are getting towards the age for pre-k. Some can’t wait to go to big-kids school with their own bag and things to do.
For kids it’s usually an exciting time with lots of cool adventures, things to do and see. For us parents, it can be hard to know what the right thing to do is and the best age for pre-kindergarten. The main thing to remember is there is no hard and fast rules – your child, your choice. When you know they are ready, there are some fantastic preschools that will be ready to welcome them.