My 3 Year Old Is Going to Preschool in September and I Am Worried.

Updated on April 06, 2010
J.P. asks from Brooklyn, NY
27 answers

Let me start by saying I know I worry too much lol. Well today I enrolled her in preschool and the lady was showing me what they do in the class. I don't know if my child will be able to learn as fast as other kids and I don't want my DD to be considered slow. But the biggest worry is her speech. She does not talk as clear as she should, and I am concerned she will be labeled special needs. Just the thought of therapy makes me cringe. I wanted to know if your 3 year talks clearly? has some difficulties? if they are in preschool did they learned it fast?Is this just a crazy mommy moment of mine and I am overreacting?(most likely) they do give them 3 months or so to see their level. Im hoping she can speak better by then. Thanks

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answers from New York on

I am a preschool teacher and I have my Master's in Early Childhood education so please believe me when I say this, please don't worry. So much changes with children's speech around this age. It is completely normal for a 3 year old to have some speech issues. After working with her a few months, her teacher should be able to know if her speech issues are typical 3 year old speech issues or if she needs to be evaluated. if she does needs some intervention then it will be ok. Early intervention is the best intervention. A lot children receive speech when they are young and you would never know it from the way that they speak as adults. Often, the issue is fixed before they even reach kindergarten. My point is that you shouldn't worry yet. Don't give her tutors over the summer or drill her. Just have fun with her and have a lot of conversations with her. Most of all, don't let her know that you are worried. You don't want her to become self conscious of her speech. I hope that helps!

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answers from Albany on

Being labeled 'special needs' is a good thing if she HAS special needs, then if she really is behind on speech the problem will be adressed and she will get the help she needs. More likely, she'll be talking up a storm one week into pre-school, don't worry Mom, either way, it'll work out! Just enjoy her!

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answers from Savannah on

Hey J.,

I was a preschool teacher for a few years before I had kids. I taught the 3 yr. old class, and let me just start by saying that LOTS of kids came through my room who were having a hard time talking, or a hard time potty training, or a hard time learning to stay on their mats when they slept.... etc....

As a teacher I adored my class and I noticed for most of the kids that after a few weeks/months of being around their peers, those problems cleared up.

If she is speaking with a particular speech impediment (such as a lisp, the inability to pronounce a certain letter, or a noticeable impediment that is consistent with the way her mouth moves improperly) then someone may suggest to you to look into it. But that doesn't mean she needs some kind of intensive therapy, or that you should immediately place her with a speech therapist. In my opinion she's actually a little young for all that. If by age 5 she's still speaking with a certain impediment, I'd take her to a speech therapist.

But if she just doesn't talk much yet, or if she mispronounces lots of words... I'd tell her teacher your concerns and then work with her at home on extremely clear pronunciation when you talk to her. And also - talk a lot. I mean... chatter her ear off. Talk to her in an adult conversational voice and with adult words... tell her what you're doing as you do it - "And now Mommy' putting dishes into the dishwasher to get them clean..." and occasionally hold up an object and clearly pronounce its name, "PLATE"...

It will drive you a little nuts. So do it in moderation. I'd even get some flash cards - they're like $2 at Target - and go through them with her, pronouncing the names of the pictures clearly.

I bet after 6 or 8 weeks of being around other kids, hearing you talk about pronounce, and hearing her teacher do similar... you'll see a big difference!

Remember too - she's still a toddler. Lots of things are going to take a little longer than normal, every kid is different and she just might be taking her time.

And hey - worst case scenario, she actually does have a slight speech problem, in which case you'll (probably) Google it, find out ways to help her, possibly put her into therapy and a year later notice she doesn't really need it anymore. The important thing is that you're watching and ready to do something if needed.

Good luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I'm wondering what you would have against therapy if she actually needs it? Wouldn't you want your daughter to get all the help she can get at a young age when the therapy has a good chance of being short-lived and very successful? The longer you wait for needed therapy, the less chance of success and often the longer it takes. So, while the other posters are absolutely correct that children will be all over the spectrum at age 3, wouldn't you rather your daughter receive the proper help that she needs if she actually needs it?

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answers from Redding on

Dear J.,
You ARE worrying too much. It's just preschool, not entrance exams for Harvard.
Being around other children will likely be wonderful for your daughter. They learn and pick up so many things and make friends.
You're worried about labelling and she hasn't even started yet.
She will pick up on your anxiety.
Preschool is fun! She's a big girl! She's going to have a great time!

Be positive. Give her a chance to flourish.

Best wishes.

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answers from New York on

Has your doctor been aprised of your concerns? If your child truly has a speech problem, admit it and get your child the help she needs. It is not fair to delay your child's speech any more than it is.

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answers from New York on

Do you know that a study (I don't remember where it was done) found that 90% of what we worry about never happens!! After I read that, I just stopped worrying! Instead, I use precautions to deal with concerns I may have about my daughter or anything else.
Being scared and avoiding having your child evaluated for "fear of therapy" or being "labeled" is completely counterproductive. You must KNOW that! Speech therapy can be a fantastic experience for your child. Just imagine how the world will open up for her when she learns to speak well. Also, many children who have had ear infections or another problem that reduces their hearing can also have delayed speech. Make sure to have her hearing checked if you haven't already.

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answers from Dallas on

My child was very behind in speech. We even did some therapy but our therapist kept trying to diagnose medical issues that weren't even there so we quit therapy in July. That September he started preschool. From that moment on, his vocabulary exploded. He had new words all the time and would surprise us daily. Give it a try, I bet she will blossom!

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answers from New York on

That is six months away. Relax she will be fine.



answers from New York on

My son will also be starting preschool in the fall and he does not speak clearly at all! He goes to school 2 days/week now and he keeps up just fine. But if in the end your daughter does need some speech therapy, it is not a bad thing. It is better for her to get the therapy now than when she is older. I am also and occupational therapist and work with children, many who just need a little jumpstart and to focus on some specific issues. I had my son evaluated for speech therapy 2x's and they said he doesn't need it, but if he did, I would be happy that the help was there if he needed it. I'm sure your daughter will thrive in preschool, but have you thought about putting her in a mother's morning out program or something similar in the meantime, so that she can used to separating from you and being with a large group of kids?? Best of luck to you!



answers from Buffalo on

Hi J.!
Don't worry so much! I'm sure your daughter will do just fine! My three year old is in pre school now and in even just the first week we could see a difference! Just wait until you see how quickly she learns new things!
If she does have some speech problems, the sooner they are identified the better off she will be in the long run! They will not label her special needs just because she may require speech thearapy. Lots of perfectly normal kids need a little help w.speech. Just enjoy this new time in her life and yours!



answers from New York on

Don't worry so much. She has several months for her speach to improve. Also once she's in a learning environment with other children her age, I'm sure she'll soar.

Children learn at their own pace. There will probably be things that she'll learn faster than the other students, and others where she'll be in the bottom group. It's all perfectly natural and normal.

And if in the rare event she does have special needs or needs help in a particular area, it'll be identified early on. Then she can get the help she needs.

Relax and enjoy your beautiful little girl. They grow up so quickly.



answers from New York on

J., I am sure all mommies worry (some more than others) First time mom's top the cake. My grand daughter was not speaking clearly when she started junior pre-K. There was not too much help in parochial school and we were told we should have had Early Intervention by 2. The Doctor told us she was OK and guess what? It was a matter of maturity...she now speaks very well. You need to give her the chance and do not worry about labelling... if she needs help, let her get it. I worked in Public School and there were many children who needed special help and eventually were mainstreamed (only an example) Try not to worry, just do the best you can for your daughter! Grandma Mary



answers from San Diego on

ROFL... crazy-mommy-moment. We all get them, so don't sweat.

Brief story to share:

My mum has be ON me about my son's speech for probably about 2 years now. She thinks he stutters. He doesn't. His mind just skips ahead faster than his mouth can keep up. Which I've pointed out, but no matter how old I get, I'm still her "baby" and therefore easily ignored, unless I take a stance, and this isn't a battle I'm willing to choose. She's been complaining to my godmother for about an equal period of time. My godmother is a speech pathologist. So when she came to visit last summer my mum IN FRONT OF MY KIDDO brought up the whole stuttering thing yet again. Dang my godmother is adept, she turned the conversation away from negative on the spot, to positive in the spotlight in nothing flat "Oh we all have different things we work on." and she turned to my son "I work in speech every day, how people talk and learn to and shape words... so I'm always working in language. It's one of my favorite things. How 'bout you Kiddo... I hear you're working on your swimming right now? Do you jump off the side yet??? My boys love to swim, too. What's your favorite part of swimming?"

Huzzah godmother!! Geeze mum, you were the one who *taught* me not to talk about kids in front of them.

Once kiddo was out of earshot she gave my mum a little lecture (again in the kind of tact that comes from dealing with neurotic families for over 30 years) that had my overly-sensitive mum laughing instead of bristling.

What it boiled down to (in her professional opinion) was this : My son's thoughts skip ahead of his ability to get them out as fast as he's thinking them AND he's afraid that certain listeners (my mum) won't keep listening, so he tries to talk even faster. AKA it is in no way, shape, or form stuttering, or any other language problem. Just normal development coupled with environment.


Kids both develop and learn at different paces. Same token take any group of 3 year olds and you will have a HUGE range amognst them. Teachers are very very used to this, as it's utterly normal. :) So relax.



answers from Phoenix on

All children are different and she is going to change so much between now and September. Don't worry about it. If they start labeling her, I'd let it go. They change and mature so much and every child is so different! My nephew didn't talk at all until just recently and he just turned 6. He didn't go to speech therapy until age 5. He went to a special preschool but a normal grade school. He didn't talk at all. He's just learning to talk at age 6 and just had surgery because they found that he couldn't hear well. His problem was obvious and no one really did anything until he was older anyway. I'd say that she will be fine. Good luck!



answers from New York on

Well...First let me advise you to Stop worrying about 'things' you have no control over. And instead of waiting until September, be proactive...Start teaching her to read, buy Audio Books, take her to Story-time at Barnes & Noble, take her to the Library, Buy Music DVD's, Sing-alongs, etc... Buy a Tape recorder and record you voice play it back so she can hear it and encourage her to do it too (make it a game). Sing, and sing loud!!! You didn't mention whether you're doing anything to "help" her besides just worrying...

Encourage and 'teach' her...Hire a Tutor~ Do what you need to do instead of "sweating" what's going to happen in September. And "hoping" she'll speak by September is simply just what you said it is, hope... You are her advocate and she depends and needs you to set the stage for her which will determine the type of woman she will grow up to be...Do you want her to be a "worry-wart"? If you want 'things' to change, you have to change...

I know you wrote this because you honestly need help, what you really need is direction...I hope I was able to do that for you (at least somewhat)... Now, Get busy young lady and make that little lady a chatter-box...



answers from Houston on

I have a little guy who will be 3 in July and I signed him up for 2 days of preschool starting in the fall. He isn't speaking AT ALL. He does a lot of grunting to communicate his needs/wants... LOL But, my 4 1/2 year old did the same thing at this age and by 3-3 1/2 he started talking and now he won't stop! LOL

It's so easy for us moms to worry about our little ones, especially if they are our first or only child.

I'm sure your little one will do great and will start chattering so much that it might drive you a little crazy. :)

I agree with all of Amy's answers... There really is no need to worry right now. And as hard as it may be, you can't compare her to all the other kids in her class. Everyone is unique.

Best of luck to you! :)

~ Ann


answers from Milwaukee on

My daughter is just finishing PreK-3 (she turned 3 mid-August, so a young one in the class). What I have found is that a good preschool teacher has a schedule but understands that the children are at different levels. There is a young 4 year old in my daughters class who just was behind a year of where she "should" be and instead of labeling her "special needs" they always paired her up or during activities put her next to a child who knew how to do the activity. This really helped the girl because she watched and learned from the other children and did better then when the teacher was trying to talk/explain something to her. The girl has excelled and closer to the level of where she "should" be.

With that get to know your daughters teacher well, have open communication and if you do not think speech therapy or whatever is not needed and it is suggested make sure you say you want to wait to see what she picks up from the other children and see how she does for a few months before making that decision. You may just have a quiet girl but I have found preschool really can open a child up since they are around children their age. They also help each other learn.



answers from Boise on

Don't worry about it. All the kids will be at different levels, and being around the other kids will definitely help her. Plus, the teachers will need to understand her, so she may make more of an effort to be understood. She won't be labeled as slow at that age, and will most likely be a little sponge. I'm sure that after a little bit, you will be happy with how she is progressing.



answers from New York on

Ask your pediatrician if she should be evaluated for speech? Its not a big deal, she will catch up. Parents need to realize our children are not going to be great at everything. Early intervention is the key. Put your own needs aside for perfection and get her the help she needs. Labeling at 3 is a ridiculous concept and anyone who does it is truly a judgemental being. Good luck.



answers from New York on

Oh, please don't worry your child will learn to speak just like all the other kids. Is pre-school going to set her up with speach therapy? That would really be the best thing for her. There's no label attached to that. I wouldn't worry about any of that, this will pass with speach therapy and she'll go on just like all the other kids. She'll be fine with speach therapy. We went thru the same thing and now a year later its so much easier for our child, he doesnt get frustated when trying to convey his message.

Good luck with your daughter.



answers from Florence on

I teach 4K and I would have to say about a 5/20 kids needed speech therapy. The speech therapist is actually adjacent to my room. Anyway, I have learned alot from talking to her and actually watching what she does with the kids. It is def. worth it to have her screened. Many 3 year olds arent clear in talking



answers from Indianapolis on

Just before our son turned 2, we decided to move our kids (sister was newborn) into a day care facility vs. in-home care we'd been doing.

The environment is probably similar to what your daughter is going to experience in preschool. Yes, they have a curriculum and teach them the basics they should know going into Kingergarten, but so much of it is also them learning to follow directions, interact with other children, resolve disputes with their classmates (such as a few kids wanting to play with the same toys), and recognizing adults as authority figures other than Mom/Dad.

It's not wrong of you to worry that your child will be scrutinized, but I don't think you'll have anything to worry about. In fact, I believe your daughter will surprise you by completely blossoming in that environment.

Our 3.5 year old is really a good talker, but he is really hard to understand on the phone. Skype is a different thing. And, sometimes I have no idea what he's saying because he's mispronouncing something or jumbling words.

I can't add much more than what Amy said as a former preschool teacher, but I will say that if there is a problem, better to diagnose and treat early than when she moves into more rigorous learning environments.

Good luck! She'll do great.


answers from New York on

Hi J.,
I wouldn't worry so much if I was you. When my oldest started kinder the teacher on the first day of school told me that she wanted to evaluate him because she couldn't understand a word he said. Now, I knew there was a problem there because the only ones that could understand him were my mother and I. Since he was born he had ear infections that affected his hearing therefore his speech. But the thing is this, even if your daughter would need speech therapy, it doesn't mean that she is a dumb child or retarded, it's just a different special need that she would have. Many parents get scared of the "special need" label that comes along with the evaluations; but they shouldn't. I've always treated my son and his siblings special, because that's what they are to me. So when he had the need to be taken out of his regular class to go to the speech therapy (which is done in school and during school hours) he never felt isolated or different from the other children. I would always talk to them (all three of them) a lot. Have them explain things, and with my oldest I would always tell him "it's not you, it's me that can't understand" "what are you talking about? is it color, a shape, a food, a game, etc.?" until I could understand what he was saying. Just spend as much time with her talking to her and having her repeat things to you. Such as 'a flower' when you are in the park or backyard; 'the ball' when you play with her, 'plate' 'bowl' 'cup' etc. when she eats. Don't be so worried that you can't enjoy her. She will get her words little by little. Every child is different and some take longer than others.
You just relax and enjoy your time with her. If you are putting her in a daycare so she meets other kids and be more social, so be it. If you don't have to, then just keep her and enjoy her at home and have a wonderful summer.
If she does have a problem is better that she gets the help now rather than when she is older. The earliest the better.



answers from Tulsa on

I agree that if she needs the therapy she should have it now instead of later. It wouldn't hurt to talk to your Pediatrician and have a complete physical done, hearing, vision, etc....also make qn appointment with a Pediatric Dentist, not a family dentist but a Pediatric Dentist. They can do cleaning and X-Rays and see if there is an issue of the mouth. If there is nothing physical then she'll most likely just start spouting off one day and catch up and never stop...!



answers from Rochester on

My son is starting pre-school this coming Monday and I too am a little nervous, basically about the same things, but I am not cringing at the thought of therapy- so I wonder what makes you react that way? Therapy, if needed, could really help your child. Are you worried what the other kids or adults will think of your child or of you as a parent? I find that most of my worries and frustrations about whether my child is age appropriate all come from that- what will people think of me as a parent. The social stigma of having a child labeled as special needs is pretty strong, so it may be that stigma that has you so worried. Without trying to be offensive, I do believe that you are overreacting. Let your child go to school, have fun and learn at her own pace. I try to remind myself that raising kids is not a competition and not to expect your child to be like everyone else or be perfect because they can not be and you only set yourself up for disappointment and your child will suffer too, believing they can never be as good as you want them to be. Good luck and I am sure whatever happens, your daughter will be fine.



answers from New York on

My daughter talked at 9 months old and had 40+ words she used regularly until she was 1 year and 1 week old. THEN SHE STOPPED SPEAKING!!!! I freaked out!!! The doctors said don't worry until she is 2yo and not talking. 2 years old and still no talking. She started speech therapy (only needed 9 months of therapy) and hasn't shut up since. She is now 9 yo and so smart! MY POINT.... speech therapy is not a bad thing it is GOOD!!!! Speech therapy now at 3 will help her have a lifetime of not being made fun of. My mom had a studder as a child and was teased so badly. Think of it as tutoring. If she was in school and falling behind in a subject wouldn't you get her tutoring to help her improve? Why the hesitation for speech? Communication is essential and good (or bad) communication helps (or hurts) every aspect of her life FOREVER! Get her evaluated NOW and therapy if needed NOW!!! Don't worry about "labeling" worry about her future!!!! A.

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