11 answers

Ready for Preschool---What Should My 3 Year Know Before Going?

Just wondering if anyone typically knows what a 3 year old should know before going to preschool? My son will be starting preschool this year and he is very good at writing his name already, (his name is Brandon) which I really owe a lot to my babysitter, he is also drawing people with eyes, ears, hair, legs and even earrings!?!? I know all kids are different but I just want be working on some things this summer with him.

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Thanks to everyone for the great advice. I think I am on the right track. We do a lot of crafts together so he is good doing the scissors and tracing lines. I do think he is advanced a little bit when it comes to drawing since my best friend has a three year old boy too and he just draws straight lines in one color and my son draws people and they are all different colors. He is more expressive that way and can sit for hours coloring, doing crafts and writing his name. He is potty trained and can get dressed by himself sometimes backwards but at least he tries.

One thing about him is that he gets so upset when he can't do something like draw something and no matter what u say to him he gets soo upset. And I need to focus on reading books more this summer too. Thanks for the library idea, but I live in South Elgin and there is NO LIBRARY!

Guess just sending my little baby off to school is already getting to me already and it does not start until September!

Thanks again for the great advice I really enjoy this web site even if I do not respond to everyone its a great place to get some opinions and advice without getting judged.

Featured Answers

How to potty by himself! Please don't stress about the rest. It sounds like he is a quick study. Preschool for threes is about learning to play together and share. Socialization skills should be the main focus, not academics--there will be plenty of opportunity for that as he gets older! Relax and have fun this summer--kids learn by everything they do--shopping, playing games, going to the park....

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hey susan!

All of the responses here are great! I have taught preschool for 12 years now and I'm not aware of anything children HAVE to know before entering.. Most schools require your child be potty-trained before entering the 3's program. I just think of all the suggestions given so far will help your son enjoy the activities at school. The emphasis at this age at preschool is exposing the children to lots of activities that help develop fine motor skills.. cutting.. playing with playdough.. scribbling with crayons and so forth are all great..And of course the social benefits of being with other children and learning to share and so forth are just as.. if not more important. It sounds like if he is writing his name already and adding details to his artwork, he appears to be mature for his age. Good for him! How exciting!

Writing the name is a skill that is accomplished at varying times for children. As other moms said, some children are ready at a younger age.. probably due to practice and having materials (crayons.. coloring books.. markers.. chalk.. things like that.. ) around the house to use and gentle encouragement from mom or their primary caregiver. While other children have other abilities and interests and should be encouraged to develop their unique interests as well. There are so many "intelligences" and that is what makes us all special and unique.

Often times children with older siblings who they have seen "doing their homework" are eager to practice letters and numbers just like their big brother or sister. Girls typically have more interest in fine motor activities and develop these skills a bit faster.. but some boys do too!..I have a little boy in my class who colors with his sister at home and he LOVES IT! HE takes such pride in his work. Your son will be so proud when he writes his name at school and will be a great role model for the other kids. The other children are fascinated by what other children do and enjoy.

other children prefer building with blocks at school and moving around and exploring other things as opposed to seat work but a good school will get the kids involved in a wide variety of activities throughout the day as children learn in so many ways!

I personally would recommend taking your son to your local library story time this summer. Its free too! Get your child a library card and let him check out his own books each week. It is such a great activity that exposes your child to all sorts of wonderful literature and helps develop attention span and pre-reading skills. Reading to your child every day is the number one thing you can do to help your child get ready for school!
hope that helps some.. you are doing a great job!

1 mom found this helpful

If kids know letters, colors and shapes, they are well advanced for 3 year old preschool! Writing names, that is fantastic. Also use blunt scissors and practice glueing and cutting. Sort items by shape, size, color, things like that. My daughter just finished preschool, so all of this is fresh in my mind!
Good luck
Mohter of 2 great kids 5 and 2 1/2 both girls
4th grade teacher

1 mom found this helpful

How to potty by himself! Please don't stress about the rest. It sounds like he is a quick study. Preschool for threes is about learning to play together and share. Socialization skills should be the main focus, not academics--there will be plenty of opportunity for that as he gets older! Relax and have fun this summer--kids learn by everything they do--shopping, playing games, going to the park....

1 mom found this helpful

Sounds like he's doing great already. If you haven't already done so, you might want to introduce snipping with scissors. Play dough scissors are a good way to start since they aren't sharp. You can also start to encourage helping with some self help skills like helping to pull buttons through the hole. As far as drawing, he's doing everything he should be!

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There is nothing specific they need to know but the following things will be worked on usually. Colors, shapes, recognizing and writing the alphabet and numbers 0-9. Following 2 step directions such as "please pick up the books and put them in the yellow bin".
Overall, just learning to play well with others and listening to the teacher and following directions. Using scissors as well as coloring within the lines(does not have to be perfect-they are usually just looking at how well they follow directions). These are some of things I could think of. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with the other moms. Other skills I can think of that they will start working with your son on are "pre-writing skills". You can have him use blunt scissors to cut playdough, trace dotted lines, squiggles, shapes. Work on having him hold his writing utensil correctly, etc.

Just a short tidbit-- some kids are great at sitting down and working on "worksheets" (tracing letters or shapes, etc.) at this age, while others may not be. My childcare center introduced this activity in the room when my son had first turned three, and he absolutely hated it. They had two or three kids work on their worksheets at a time while the others got free play or outside time. My son reacted by KICKING HIS TEACHER!!! (Never before and never since has he reacted so violently to being told what he has to do-- he is really not a rebel). I had a discussion with the director about whether this activity was age-appropriate, and after a few months, they decided it was not appropriate in that classroom.

As he got closer to 4, he really began to love to sit down and color and write letters. He's now 4 yrs, 3 months and actually stays in the lines when he colors! As you know, they all go at their own pace, and it's just really important to let him choose what he wants to do.

Good luck! Your son is doing great already.


If I were you, I'd call some pre-schools in the area and ask that exact question. Or, better yet, make an appointment and stop in to meet the teachers, see the center and ask the questions.

I've come to realize that all kids learn things at different times and seem to excel in the areas that they truly enjoy. I'm not sure if there are even guidelines as to what kids need to know before entering pre-school. The only thing I've ever heard of was that they had to be potty-trained.

Good luck.


At 3 years old -- top on the list is plays well with others and follows direction.
Don't sweat it - he is already way ahead of the game.
S. from Lisle

I don't think you need to teach him academic things....that's what the school is for. He just needs to know personal care (able to go to the bathroom himself, knows how to wash his hands himself, knows how to put on his jacket by himself, can stand nicely in line, can keep his hands to himself). The teacher(s) can definitely help with this stuff, so don't think he's going to ruin the class because he hasn't learned how to zip his jacket. But, what's better: the teacher has to help 20 kids put on their jackets before they go outside, or all 20 kids can do it themselves so all they have to do is line up and leave?

It sounds to me like he is already above most kids when they start pre-school. That is awesome that he knows that much already and I would just keep teaching him anything that he is willing to learn. I do know that in kindergarten now they expect the kids to be able to read and most do not know how before kindergarten so you are definetly doing the right thing by teaching him all he knows now. I will be teaching letters, reading, math (addition/subtraction/fractions), drawing, and spanish to my 2 year old and 6 year old. I figure I might as well just teach them both and see how much they pick up. My 6 year old added the Spanish and drawing himself so ask what your little one would like to learn. He might give you an ideal that you wouldn't have previously thought about.

Wow you son is doing great. My son will be 3 @ the end of August and I thought it was good that he could count to ten and say his alphabet. He can't draw people or write his name.
Good for your son, I think he is ahead of the game already...Evidentally I need to work on some things with my son this summer too...

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