Getting your preschooler ready for school

by Ann Douglas

preschooler readinessYour two- or three-year-old won't be hopping on the school bus for another year or two, but there's plenty you can do right now to help her acquire the skills that will make her transition to school smooth and successful.

Here are some of the key findings from a recent report on what factors in the home or community environment are most likely to contribute to school readiness at age five.

Plenty of opportunities to interact with adults. Five-year-olds who score highly for receptive vocabulary, which is the ability to understand what is being said, communication skills, curiosity and cooperative play tend to experience high levels of positive interaction with their parents.

Being read to daily. Five-year-olds who were read to daily did better in receptive vocabulary and number knowledge than others who weren't read to regularly. The more children are exposed to reading, the better. With preschoolers, reading becomes a focus.

Playing organized and unorganized sports. Participation in organized sports and in lessons related to physical activity are linked to several readiness-to-learn measures, including receptive vocabulary, communication skill, number knowledge, and copying and symbol use.

What's more, children who participated at least weekly in unorganized sports were rated higher in cooperative play than other children.

Taking art lessons. Participation in lessons in the arts was linked to number knowledge and to copying and symbol use.

Before you hit the panic button and assume your child will never be ready for school, relax.

Just because you haven't been maxing out his learning opportunities since the day he was born, doesn't mean your child is failing.

Remember that the idea is to expose your child to a variety of different experiences over time, not to try to expose him or her to every possible experience simultaneously.

That's the recipe for a cranky child and a stressed out parent.

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site,

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to