It can be a tough call. For many families with young children, knowing when a child is “ready for more” can come with a lot of doubt and uncertainty.

  • Maybe your child has been in an at-home daycare since they were a baby, and the idea of putting them into a larger group setting is making you nervous. Are they ready for that? Will they get lost in the shuffle?
  • Or perhaps it’s that you love the teachers at their daycare, but you just don’t think your child is being challenged enough and she seems bored or disinterested.
  • Let’s be honest here — maybe it’s just too much to think about right now and you know that a change for her means a change for you — you’ll need to tour new places, fill out applications, and then there’s the forms, fees, and the new schedule and routine. It’s a lot.

Whatever your hesitations or looming question marks, knowing some signs of preschool readiness can make the decision a little easier. We’ve put together a quick list of what to look for in your child that will help you make the transition from home or daycare to a more formal school setting.

children working together with a globe / signs of readiness for preschool
Learning about the continents

Signs of Preschool Readiness #1: Independence

If the words, “I do it!” are frequently heard around your house and it seems like you don’t make it through the day without at least one power struggle or tantrum, it’s time to consider preschool. The toddler / preschool age is a tough one for many parents. Their sweet baby has blossomed into a fiercely independent child who has opinions and knows how to voice them.

Send them to school! We’ll take that budding independence and give it some boundaries. We’ll encourage it in a way that makes your child feel in control, but we’ll also show them how to participate in group activities, follow directions, and complete the work cycle. Yes, we’ll show them how to take work from the shelves, do it properly, and then clean it up!

You’ll start to see the changes at home. They’ll start showing you what they’ve learned, start singing songs you didn’t teach them, and you’ll see their independent spirit grow and flourish.

Signs of Preschool Readiness #2: Purposefulness

Most children love to help! They want to be part of the action, and being told they’re “such a good helper” is a badge of honor they are proud of. Young children love purpose; they love big jobs. Helping a parent carry the grocery bags or push the vacuum cleaner makes them feel strong and grown up.

Send them to Montessori school! We’ll take that purposefulness and put it to work! The Montessori classroom is filled with opportunity to do “big work” — like scrubbing chairs and tables, watering the plants, or setting the tables for lunch. Children work together with teachers to maintain the classroom environment and a child’s efforts are seen and acknowledged.

In a Montessori classroom, all activity has purpose. Children learn that this is a place of great accomplishment and they take pride in hard work and new challenges.

Signs of Preschool Readiness #3: Flexibility

So we’ve got this fiercely independent 3 year-old who wants to do big, important tasks their way, right? And now we’re saying that flexibility is the final component to preschool readiness? Yes, we are. You see, flexibility is the potential that lies behind the stereotypically stubborn toddler. You want to see growth and maturity? You guessed it: send them to school!

Children learn by example. They learn by watching others, imitating behavior and language, and through trial and error. When it comes to flexibility — the ability to go with the flow, cooperate when asked, and follow rules and directions without a whole lot of pushback — we don’t necessarily think preschoolers have much, because we may not see it very often.

But, it’s there. Young children want so badly to learn, to grow, to be a big kid. They want to be like you — all grown up and smart!

Send them to school.

  • A good teacher will see their stubbornness and recognize the strong will that lies beneath. She’ll take that need for independence and work with it, rather than against it.
  • A good teacher will expect cooperation and will have 32 tricks up her sleeve when it doesn’t come out the first time around. She’ll make working together fun and engaging.
  • A good teacher will trust that flexibility will come. She practices patience and kindness, models calmness and reliability.
  • A good school will welcome you and learn about your child before they enter the classroom. They’ll ask questions and make you feel comfortable. We understand that, for most families, change is scary / exciting. We’re here to help you navigate that transition.
  • A good school will make you feel at home.

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Children’s House Montessori School of Reston (CHMS) is a small, family-oriented school located in a peaceful wooded setting in Reston, Virginia. We believe that a child’s first school experience should be filled with curiosity, exploration and opportunities for  independence. We offer half-day and full-day Montessori programs for children 3 years of age through kindergarten.

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