Too Small to Fail: A Joint Initiative of Clinton Foundation and Next Generation

Preparing for Preschool

A child’s first day of preschool or kindergarten can be exciting for him and his parents alike—it represents a rite of passage into later childhood. But that first experience in school can also be challenging, especially if the child is unprepared. This period of early education can be especially troubling for young children today, who are expected to keep up with more rigorous academic standards than those of just a few years ago. Some young children aren’t considered “school ready”, even if they meet the age requirements, because they are not prepared to learn in a formal classroom setting.

The good news is that the skills that a child needs to succeed in a classroom or school setting can be learned quite early in life, and reinforced by parents and caregivers long before a child sets foot in a school or childcare facility.

According to the Urban Child Institute, there are four key dimensions of school readiness: language and literacy, thinking skills, self-control, and self-confidence. These skills help a child learn to read, evaluate and solve problems, and get along with other children well enough so that learning can take place. If a child doesn’t learn the proper social and emotional skills early in life, and if she is not taught basic literacy and numeracy awareness, she has a more difficult time catching up to her peers later in school.

Parents and caregivers can help their children prepare for school early on by reading, talking and singing to them every day. Frequent reading and verbal communication during infancy leads to an awareness of vocabulary, which helps build literacy skills that will be useful later in school. Additionally, parents can help foster curiosity and a desire to learn in their children by playing games like hide-and-seek and taking the time to answer questions.

A quality preschool setting can also be useful to young children by helping them become familiar with an environment where teachers and children interact regularly without the presence of parents. In fact, studies have shown that a quality preschool can actually improve a child’s chances of academic success. While choosing a quality preschool can be difficult, the resources listed below provide useful tips for finding the right childcare facility for your child and family.


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