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Your 2-Year-Old & Preschool: Are They Ready?

Two-year-olds. They’re inquisitive. They’re confident. They’re demanding. They’re emotional. They’re social. They’re constantly on the move. Are they ready for preschool? For many toddlers, the answer is a resounding yes, as this can be a fantastic time to introduce them to a structured school setting. To see if your 2-year-old & preschool are a good fit, ask yourself the following questions.

Is My Child Independent?
If your child is potty-trained, able to eat on their own and can handle basic chores such as washing their hands and putting away a few toys, this is definitely a good sign. Sometimes, a 2-year-old preschool requires that all children be potty trained prior to attending their school, so this might be an important milestone that your child will need to reach.

At Precious Moments, we do not require that children be fully out of diapers prior to attending our preschool. We understand that some children, particularly those younger than 2-and-a-half are not quite ready for toilet training and need some time to ease into the idea.

Can My Child Focus On Tasks?
While no one expects a 2-year-old to sit and focus for hours upon hours, they should be able to focus on something of interest for a short period of time. If you notice that your child can spend quite a bit of time playing with puzzles, working with play dough, coloring or painting, this is a good sign.

If your child has trouble with this or seems to constantly ask for your help, start practicing these skills at home. For instance, while you are folding laundry, have your child build a block tower without your help. When you fix dinner, put your child to work on some puzzles or perhaps grab some crayons and get them drawing.

During their preschool day, we engage in variety of activities. We typically begin each day with a large group circle time where we talk about the calendar, the weather and often encourage children to share a weekend experience. If you think your child would have difficulty sitting still for these circle times, start practicing by taking them to a free library story time or play an age-appropriate board game at home.

These activities require some focus and attention, but don’t be surprised if your child begins squirming after about 10 or 15 minutes. Typically, a 2-year-old will be able to concentrate for about 15 minutes before their mind (and body) begins to wander.

At our preschool, if you look at our general daily schedule for 2-year-olds, you’ll see that our circle time only lasts about 15 minutes before we start breaking out into learning centers and small-group activities.

Are They Social?
Prior to their second year, most children tend to engage in solo play and parallel play where they aren’t really interacting too much with other children. Around age 2, however, social skills really begin to develop, but if your child doesn’t seem particularly social, it might be smart to work on this skill a bit.

Socializing isn’t natural for every child and takes some practice. At Precious Moments, the teachers and staff model positive social interactions and encourage the students’ socialization through cooperative play, sharing during circle times, playing on the playground and during mealtimes.

You can practice with your child as well, by encouraging social interaction during park visits, taking a fun toddler class at the community center or just setting up some playdates.

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Our preschool follows a set daily schedule, as children thrive and feel safe when they know what to expect during the day. If your days are pretty free and open, but you will be transitioning to preschool soon, consider setting a daily schedule so that your child becomes accustomed to this type of routine. You can take a look at our general daily schedules online, and perhaps follow that as a guideline.

For instance, after breakfast, you might spend some time reading a story and talking about the weather. Follow that up with some set activities, and then break for some outdoor time, then enjoy some lunch and a nap or quiet time.

Can They Be Away From Parents?
If your child has severe separation anxiety, it might not be time to consider preschool. Instead, start focusing on lessening your child’s anxiety. Hire a sitter, even if it’s just for an hour, so that your child can see that you will return and they are safe while you are gone. Then start, extending your time apart, so they begin to get used to these separations.

We fully understand how traumatizing it can be for parents to watch their children meltdown during a separation. But you don’t have to cure separation anxiety overnight. Start small with quick trips away while your child stays at home in familiar surroundings. Increase the time you are away, and gradually work up to leaving them temporarily at someone else’s home until they start to feel more comfortable with other caregivers and in less familiar surroundings.

Of course, for many parents, work necessitates placing your 2-year-old in preschool. If your child seems a bit shy or anxious about this big change, there are many things we can do to make this transition easier and more comfortable, including:

1. Stay Positive – Model excitement about this new experience. Perhaps share some positive memories that you remember about preschool or if your friends’ children are happy about preschool, perhaps you could have their child share what they love about their preschool experience.

2. Spend Some Time Apart – If you are your 2-year-old are rarely apart, it can be smart to spend a bit of time separately. This is especially important for children with separation anxiety, and we hit upon this issue earlier. Start out small and just stay away for an hour or so and then gradually work up to the amount of time they will be spending at preschool. If possible, use different caregivers, so that they learn that they are safe and can be happy with multiple people.

3. Visit The School – Sometimes when a child takes a tour of their 2-year-old preschool and sees all of the interesting and fun activities awaiting them, it can increase enthusiasm for the experience. We can set up a time for your toddler to tour our school, meet teachers and get a general idea of what happens here at Precious Moments Preschool.

4. Create A Goodbye Routine – Take some time to create a positive goodbye routine with your child. This might include giving two kisses and one hug before you leave, or giving a high-five and a hug. You also can have them bring a special item for security, such as a stuffed animal or a picture of you, which they can keep in their cubby and look at or touch if they are feeling insecure.

5. Be Firm – Sometimes a student will become emotional during those first few days at their 2-year-old preschool, and that’s perfectly normal. As a parent, our instinct is to soothe and protect, but sometimes we have to let go a little and this can be hard. If your child is crying and upset, simply give them a hug and then say that you must go, and let us handle the rest.

You might be surprised to learn that most students calm down within just a few moments, and our kind, nurturing staff are experts at soothing a toddler that’s experiencing a bit of separation anxiety.

If you are ready to match your 2-year-old to preschool, Precious Moments provides a safe and engaging environment for children ages 2 to 6, and we keep kids busy and happy throughout the day, providing age-appropriate activities and nutritious breakfasts and lunch. You can even view your child at any time through our live feed cameras. If you would like to set up a tour, give us a call at any time and we can schedule a visit or answer any questions you might have.

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