What Should a Child Know Before Starting Pre-K?

Kneeling boy reading book at home
Preparation for pre-K starts in the home. (Image: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Your child is finally old enough to begin pre-K. You worry, though, that he may not have the necessary skills to begin school with other children his age. The knowledge a preschooler needs to know before taking this big step is not extensive but provides a framework on which he will build and develop new skills. Nancy Hertzog, author of "Ready for Preschool: Prepare Your Child for Happiness and Success at School," states that being prepared for school is a combination of being capable of learning reading and writing skills, as well as having the necessary physical and social attributes.

Encouraging Self-Help Skills in Your Child

Young girl trying to button her shirt
A preschooler should know how to dress herself and have basic organizational skills. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A preschooler should know how to dress herself and have basic organizational skills. This includes donning jackets and mittens, putting on boots or shoes and putting on backpacks. She will learn other basics, such as carrying a lunch tray, using scissors and arranging toys after play, during the school day. In an article for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Mikki Bexler, M.Ed., states that these skills are necessary as the social emotional/social studies content area -- one of the six basic content areas necessary for preschool success.

Essential Pre-K Social Skills

Twin boys sharing cotton candy
Sharing is a concept that preschoolers should be familiar with. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Sharing is a concept that preschoolers should be familiar with. Your preschooler should know how to say "please" and "thank you" when appropriate during the course of the day. The ability to control emotions is also a necessity -- temper tantrums, tearful pleadings and silent sulking. These can create chaos if children do not possess at least some self-control skills when school becomes frightening, stressful or overwhelming.

Knowing and Using Proper Restroom Etiquette

Young Girl Washing Hands
Preschoolers should know the basics of bathroom etiquette. (Image: Brian McEntire/iStock/Getty Images)

Preschoolers should know the basics of bathroom etiquette -- using the toilet, washing hands and closing the door for privacy. Before entering pre-K, they should also be able recognize and differentiate between male and female restroom signs and symbols to avoid confusion and embarrassment. Your preschooler should also be able to follow classroom rules or signals for requesting to use the facilities to avoid unfortunate accidents.

Ready to Read and Write

A child beginning pre-K should have basic number and letter recognition skills. Sorting large objects, identifying well-known and loved storybooks and characters, knowing colors and shapes, and knowing the difference between real and pretend are all basics that help form the essential framework for future learning and retention. The ability to follow directions and to learn how to understand the rules of a structured classroom are also important characteristics of a child entering pre-K.

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