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3 year old daughter about to start preschool…?

My daughter just turned 3 in June and she is about to start preschool. Where should we be at academically and any suggestions about starting preschool would be great. Thanks in advance!

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I am a preschool special ed teacher in the public schools, and to be honest, it seems that most parents these days over-estimate what is “normal” for a three year old. I test kids all the time to check for delays, so i am pretty familiar with what is considered “typical” development for preschoolers. Developmentally, a child is not expected to know letter and letter sounds until the end of kindergarten, although many parents panic if their kid isn’t reading when they are four! I would say for a 3 or 3 1/2 year old, what is “average development” would be to be able to do the following academically: tell their first and last name, rote count (just saying the numbers, not counting objects) to 5 or 10, be able to answer yes/no questions accurately, be able to sit through an age appopriate book and pay attention, be able to label objects and pictures by name, matching colors and shapes, coloring on paper TRYING to stay in the lines of large pictures, being able to imitate horizontal and vertical lines on paper and circular strokes, and being able to point to 8 basic body parts when named. Although many kids are already able to identify some letters, count objects, and name colors, that is not what is considered “typical” or “normal” development. To give you a better idea, you can go to the Virginia Department of Educaiton’s website and look up the kindergarten SOLs, which is what kidnergarteners are supposed to be able to do at the END of the year-it makes most parents feel better, because what they think their child should be doing at age three is really considered appropriate for a kid going in to first grade. Hope that helps some! 🙂

Your main concern for your child should be her social experiences. I’ve been teaching for 7 years in the public schools, 5 of those years working with “at-risk” preschoolers. At the age of three, you don’t need to push your child into academic. Instead, focus on “environmental print” or the things that she sees in everyday life. Being able to “read” store signs (i.e. Meijer, Walmart) is a great step to do as a family because it shows her that letters are everywhere and have a meaning. But it is not you throwing them down her throat at too young of an age to get the entire meaning. This also works for colors and such, pointing out what she is wearing, asking her which color of shirt she would like to wear. It keeps the learning fun with no pressure.

Look for a place that uses a large amount of the day as free exploration time or centers, or some sort of play based setting. Creative curriculum and High/Scope are two very child friendly (and developmentally appropriate) curriculums that a large number of preschools follow. Hope this helps and best of luck to you and your daughter.


Wai Meng Y
There’s no correct age for starting school, much less preschool!

If you are concerned that she is not learning from ‘studying’, you will need to consider what you understand by learning. Because play is also a form of learning, and its enjoyable and fun as well.

I also have a girl who is 3 years old, and I have not sent her to preschool yet. However, we have been exposing her to different activities, for instance watching cartoon videos that involves counting, dancing and actions. She is able to count the numbers 1 to 15, and can recognise all the alphabets. She can also tell me what are the different objects she is exposed to in the house. And all these not just in English, but also in Chinese.

I credit this to my mother, who taught her all these, and of course my daughter also has this curiosity streak in her that prompts her to ask as well. If your child is in the right mood to learn at this stage, then she will acquire the knowledge and skills.

Having said that, I know a lot of people say that the best stage to learn is between 0 to 5 years old. However, research has also shown that there are sensitive windows throughout the rest of one’s life, where you can also learn and pick up knowledge and skills as well. However, for language skills, surprisingly, the most effective period of time is during 0 -5 years old period.


Calculus, Quantum Physics, and (for motor skills) Ninjitsu. 😀

Kidding…kidding, don’t worry. The first part of that 3 year old year involves a lot of the children just getting used to the routine at school and the different activities. You had some good suggestions above. I really like reinee g’s answer. Windy brings up a good point…make sure you just do your best to make her feel comfortable there. If I can add to that – call the school and find out how they do drop off. Ask them what their normal routine is for the day. I’ve noticed if parents tell their children exactly what will happen throughout the day before they get there, they feel a lot more confident.



Thrice Blessed
She is just starting preschool so don’t worry about academics. The preschool will teach her what they want her know before kindergarten. If you want to help then ask what the school is doing each week so you can reinforce at home.

That’s the beautiful thing about pre-school.

You don’t have to “prepare” them for it. Especially 3s preschool.

Just make sure she is comfortable with expressing her needs (potty, etc.) and they can work with the rest.

That’s not to say that you ought not to be working with her on a daily basis on colors, number, shapes, letter, etc. etc., but only coming at from the perspective of good parenting, not school prep.

And in most 3s preschools they don’t “group” kids – so there is no gain in pushing her to be ahead of the group for the sake of only getting her ahead. Again, that should come from her own desire to learn, not for a desire for her to have a leg-up. She will have no advantage if she knows something the other kids do not.


All she needs, is to be potty trained!… My daughter went to preschool and loved it. I cryed the first day of course, especially when, she turned to me and said ” mom, u can go now”..haha… But I am glad that i sent her. She is about to start Kindergarten this year and already knows how to read, write her name, well, pretty much all the basics that thye teach u in kinder. So good luck and she will be fine!!

There is no academic expectation except that she knows how to take turns, be able to listen to directions, and be able to follow at least 2 step directions. I personally do not believe in pushing children into formal learning too early. They have a life time for all that. But just make sure that she knows how to share. (All children at 3 are having trouble with sharing, but it should be developing.) Learning at this age is about play and exploring and making believe so if you encourage and nurture her imagination and her desire to be inquisitive, she will be fine.

I would stronlgy suggest choosing a school that uses no curriculum, but instead allows them to play and learn. There are ways a teacher can teach a small child without actually having a lesson. There are crafts that teach motor skills, cutting with scissors teaches small motor skills and kids love it. Blocks, dolls, puzzles, picture books, painting, running and all the things children do are necessary for learning. Do not make the mistake of growing your child too fast, let her be 3, she will learn so much through her play and she will enjoy her time as well.

Don’t make a big deal about the first day of school. Only have one parent go to drop her off, and leave the camera at home. I would read to her as much as possible and do simple math things like counting.

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