Consider preschool options based on potty-training timing

Many preschools in the Eugene-Springfield area only accept children who are potty-trained. Therefore, many parents feel pressured to nudge their child along in order to enroll them. Be aware, however, that putting too much pressure on a child may result in rebellion and refusal to use the toilet altogether. Instead, by mid-summer, if you feel your child is not ready to use the toilet at school, look for a school that will allow children in diapers. Your child can always switch schools the following year.

Young children, even those who are good at using the toilet, may be anxious about using the bathroom at preschool and hold their urine or stool until after they’re picked up. This can lead to urinary tract infections and constipation. If you notice that your child is not using the bathroom at school, discuss it with the teacher and try to come up with a solution, or contact us for suggestions.

Picky eaters need to eat too

Adequate nutrition is an important part of learning, yet many young children are picky about what they eat. Some may even try to skip snacks or meals. If you know that your child won’t eat what is offered at preschool, send along a healthy snack or lunch that contains at least three of the four major food groups: dairy, bread, meat/protein and veggies/fruit.

How do I know if my child is ready for preschool?

Curious children who demonstrate a willingness to venture away from their parents may be ready for a preschool environment. There are numerous preschool programs. We advise you to research several schools before you decide which one is right for your child.

Questions to ask yourself and the school

  • Am I welcome to visit unannounced?
  • What do other parents say about the preschool?
  • Is it necessary for my child to be potty-trained to attend?
  • What is the schedule? Some schools are two days a week for a few hours a day. Other programs offer full days with extended care before and after school, five days a week. Pick a school with a schedule that fits your life and your child’s level of readiness.
  • How much structure is offered? Is it more like a long play date with freedom to roam in a stimulating environment? Or is it more like a true “school” setting with structured time for different activities? Choose what you think will be best for your child, but be willing to make a change if it doesn’t work out.
  • What is the environment like, especially the teacher-child interactions that can be observed during a visit?
  • How is discipline handled in the classroom?
  • How far is it from home, and can I make the trip easily?
  • How much does it cost, and does it fit my family’s budget?

My child cries hysterically every day. What should I do?

School anxiety and tears are very common, especially during the first year or two. If you pull your child out of preschool, it may send the message that you don’t believe your child can do it. Take a deep breath, and consider your options before giving up. Here are some tips:

  • Ask the teacher if the tears stop shortly after you leave or if they persist throughout the day.
  • Try a simple sticker chart to reward your child for drama-free drop-off days. After five stickers, spend some “special time” together; teach your child early on that a favorite activity with a parent is a better reward than food, treats, toys or other objects.
  • If crying is a huge problem, ask permission to attend the preschool for a few days, just long enough for your child to adjust to this new environment.
  • Make a photo album with pictures of loved ones and pets, or draw a picture for your child to take to school.
  • If allowed by the teacher, perhaps a favorite stuffed animal could join your child at school.
  • Celebrate school when you’re at home by displaying artwork and photos of school.
  • Talk positively about how proud you are of your child for being in school.
  • Don’t make drop-off a long, painful experience. Give a hug, cheerfully tell your child that you will be back soon, and ask the teacher to hold your child’s hand as you leave.

Learn more about school matters for these age groups: