With the celebration your child’s third birthday party, the terrible twos will officially be over. The party marks the beginning of the magical years of three, four and five, a time when they get to explore the outside world more vividly and may even get to join preschool.
At the preschool age, the children are more developed, have real social friendships and understand their actions. Physically, they are well coordinated and participate in high energy activities. This is the age that they start demanding for huge toys and tricycles. Though they have achieved this much, there are still some skills that they need to develop.
Here are the milestones to look for
Table of Contents
- 1. 3 to 4 Years
- 2. 4 to 5 Years
- Joining Preschool
- The Preschooler Safety
1. 3 to 4 Years
- Understands the basic rules of grammar
- Can sing a simple song or poem
- Can say first name, last name, age, and sex
- Can tell simple stories
Social and emotional development
- Plays role games like mum and dad
- Is more creative
- Enjoys playing with other kids
- Can distinguish reality vs. make-believe
- Talks about likes and interests
- Can count, name some colors and draw simple diagrams
- Starts comprehending time
- Remembers parts of a narrated story
- Starts copying capital letters
- Can pour, cut or mash food but with supervision
- Can catch a bouncing ball
- Can stand on one foot though for few seconds
The warning signs
Seek expert advice if you notice any of the following signs
- Cannot scribble
- Cannot retell a story
- Cannot speak clearly
- Does not want to interact with other children
- Does not follow simple instructions
- Loses skills that were once mastered
2. 4 to 5 Years
- Speaks clearly
- Can tell a simple story
- Says their name and home address
- Has learned the rules of tenses in grammar
Social and emotional development
- Aware of their gender
- Shows more independence
- Sometimes very demanding but other times very cooperative
- Wants to please and be like friends
- Likes to sing and dance
- Can count up to 10 or more
- Can draw a person
- Can write some letters
- Can copy geometric shapes
- Knows about basic things like money
- Can combine more than one thought
- Can stand on one foot for more than 10 seconds
- Can skip and hop
- Uses a spoon, fork, and knife
- Can use the toilet without guidance
- Can swing and climb objects
- Can do log roll, somersault
- Can throw and bounce a ball
The red flags
- Cannot get dressed, brush teeth or wash hands unsupervised
- Does not draw basic pictures
- Seems to be withdrawn
- Has trouble focusing on an activity for more than five minutes
- Does not speak clearly
- Cannot tell their name
- Loses skills that were once gained
Although the preschool age is defined as three to five years, most preschools accept children as from 2 1/2 years. There is no magical age for deciding when your child should join preschool, and age should not be the only determining factor. There are other key considerations that you should have in mind to tell whether your child is ready for preschool.
Is the child successfully potty trained?
- Some pre-schools have a no-diaper policy while others are kind enough to continue the potty training. Depending on the kind of pre-schools in your area, you will have to adequately train the child before joining others in preschool.
Is the child independent?
Other than being potty trained, the child will also need to have mastered basic skills like dressing up, washing hands, sleeping and eating without assistance.
Is the child still having separation anxiety?
If your child was attending daycare, was taken care of by a relative or a babysitter, they will be better prepared to separate from mom and daddy. If you are the only one who takes care of the baby, you may have to prepare them to be alone for you not to get a total emotional letdown when they join preschool. Start weaning them off by letting them spend a weekend with grandma or aunty.
Can the child communicate?
Consider taking the child when they can communicate well enough to be understood by other kids and the teacher. The child does not have to be fluent and speaking complex sentences but should at least be able to communicate the basics. If not, it will be quite frustrating for the child.
Can the child participate in group activities?
Most of the preschool activities require the children to work and play in groups. The child will, therefore, need to interact with others and learn more social interaction skills as time goes. If your child is not used to group games and activities, you can prepare them by taking them to public playgrounds, story time in a community library or plan for playdates with other children.
Can he concentrate and work on projects on his own?
Although preschool does not have intense academic work, it has plenty of arts and crafts projects. They need the child to concentrate and focus on each task. If your child cannot focus on one activity, then it’s probably best to hold preschool for a while.
As you get the child ready, you should also be getting prepped for the change. Start by doing thorough research of preschools in your area. Visit each, talk to the director and teachers, and get to analyze the goals that the school has for each age. Also, look at the classroom and facilities, assess their safety and comfort for your child. The cost is something else that you should of course not miss.
When you settle on a specific preschool, prep the child by may be visiting the school, let the child meet his teacher and also see the classroom that he will be in. Then next, create anticipation (not anxiety) of what will be happening in preschool. Tell him what he will be doing, how fun it will be and that he will make many new friends. You can also let the child pick their school bag and the kind of healthy snacks that they would like to carry. Continue prepping them for learning by reading out to them, pointing out letters and numbers not just at home but also in the streets.
On the first official day, drop your child a few minutes earlier to allow for one-on-one other than just sneaking away.
The Preschooler Safety
Safety is very critical for preschoolers. As they gain more independence, they start spending a lot of time in the outside world. They are also highly mobile and can easily get into dangerous situations. Parental supervision is essential, but at times the child will be out of your watch.
Here are some safety tips for preschoolers.
- When letting the child ride their tricycle, talk to them about using the sidewalk away from the street and always have them wear a helmet.
- Talk to them about the importance of staying away from the road and not to play in the street or run after stray balls.
- Inspect the child’s toys often and ensure that there are no parts that have broken, can be easily removed or chewed
- On the playground, remove any sharp objects and other hazardous objects
- Teach the child how to swim
- Pad sharp corners of furniture
- Always have a first aid kit in the house and car
- Teach the child on how to be safe around strangers
- Avoid holding the child on your lap when in a vehicle. Keep the child in a federally approved car safety seat.
- Provide age-appropriate play equipment
- Put electrical outlet covers on all outlets and secure electrical cords with masking tape, to baseboards
- Never leave the baby alone in the bathroom, it only takes few seconds for a child to drown
- Keep the electrical appliances unplugged when not in use
- Keep poisonous home plants out of reach
- Ensure that all the drawers have stops so that child cannot pull the drawer tops
- Keep the toilet lid down or consider using toilet lid locks to prevent drowning
- If your house was constructed earlier than the 70s, there is a high likelihood that the paint used is lead-based. If you would like to renovate or remove the coating, consider contacting a certified professional to handle it. If not correctly handled, the lead particles contaminate the air that you breathe, and if inhaled by the child, they pose developmental problems.
- Install window guards or window stops which prevent the window from opening more than four inches
- Lock doors that lead to dangerous places like the roof, and steep staircases. Also, consider installing baby gates on both the top and bottom of stairs
- If you would like the child to help in the kitchen, keep all hot appliances away from the child and only let them experiment with cold foods. The child should also never be left alone in the kitchen
- Keep all medicines and any type of chemical safely locked, out of reach and in case of an emergency, seek immediate medical help.
- Have working smoke alarms on each level of your home. Be sure to change the batteries every other six months.
- Consider taking a first aid class if you have not
We are sure that you will enjoy the preschool years. The child at this age has immense energy, and the brain is rapidly developing. It is time to start helping the child to get ready for formal education. Learning begins at home, and it starts with mommy and daddy. It’s simply amazing to watch your child transform from the naughty toddler to a knowledge-thirsty little one.