Infant/Toddler to Preschool

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children – one of these is roots; the other, wings.”  – Hodding Carter

Preschool has taken the place of kindergarten as being the first big step towards being a “big kid”. Preschool will represent quite a change in environment, expectations, and schedule for both child and parent. No longer are we in the free-spirited world of being a toddler, but are now in the structured world of beginning academia (preschool). 

 Some concerns at this point are:

  • Common Parent and Child Anxiety
  • Communication between Preschool Staff and Parents (Guardians)
  • Child’s Physical and Mental Health
  • Change in Roles, Routines and Expectations of child and family
  • Social/Emotional Developmental Level of Child
  • Recreation
  • Support Services Required, Community Resources and Service Coordination Transportation Types of Programs and there qualifications
Family Involvement

Preparing for preschool is not just a challenge for the child but also the parent/guardian. Each parent/guardian will approach preschool with their own perceptions and values (concepts) and require unique support. When a child or family member has special needs or a disability it is vital that all potential caregivers understand the child’s unique needs and how best they can provide support for both child and family.


Individual Planning

Individual planning from an infant toddler to a preschool setting may include a Transition Conference to develop a transition plan. If the child has a disability, it would be a part of the Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). If not, a program could still develop a transition plan with the receiving preschool and the family to include activities to prepare the child , the family and the receiving program.


Health and Development

By understanding what to expect along the way, the parent /guardian and professionals can prepare ahead with identification of milestones and “red flags” in the child’s growth and development.

Recommended Visits to Doctor

  • Well-child checkups and immunizations: 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, and 4 years
  • Early identification of problems – slow growth or inappropriate weight for height, maltreatment, delays, vision, hearing, language, acute and chronic diseases

Health Issues

  • Crawling and walking – safety and cleanliness issues
  • Injury prevention – car seats, water heat, playing near water or heat sources, limit sun time, smoke-free environment, smoke alarms, pan handles turned toward back of stove
  • All poisons up out of reach – know Poison Control phone numbers
  • Lead poisoning – old paint, industrial dust – blood test if risk factors
  • Inhalation – plastic bags, small objects can be deadly
  • TV, computer and game screen time limits
  • Sleep routines
  • Toilet training and learning to care for personal hygiene
  • Advantages and disadvantages of pets as related to allergies, responsibility, etc.


  • Growth slows; may become a picky eater with phases of “favorites”
  • Offer nutritious foods; 3 meals per day plus healthy snacks; limit fats, sugar, salt
  • Growing independence in eating
  • Check for iron-deficiency anemia

Oral Health

  • Learning to brush teeth
  • Seeing dentist and receiving fluoride applications
  • Safety for teeth – know what to do in case of tooth injury


  • Play using real objects, age appropriate toys, interact with other children and adults
  • Play is a child’s work
  • Needs opportunities to explore the world safely
  • Language develops with practice – talk with children, ask and answer questions
  • Encourage imagination, make-believe, and dress-up play
  • Should be able to express clear communication of needs and preferences
  • Should be learning to understand, identify and express feelings of joy, anger, sadness, and frustration
  • Learning to meet people and make friends
  • Learning how to handle conflicts
  • Attention span lengthens

Family Relationships

  • Adults are responsive to child
  • Adults set clear boundaries with limits and consequences
  • Adults provide meaningful praise for accomplishments
  • Adults are appropriate role models for developing children in  daily living

Community Interactions

  • Awareness and access to community resources for education, housing/ financial assistance, and social networking
  • Safe and healthy kids within safe and healthy communities

Mental Health and Social Competence

  • Self-help skills improving:  Feeding, washing/cleanliness, toileting
  • Attempting self-regulation: during distress, frustration – able to self-comfort or self-discipline
  • Child is learning to follow directions and accept limits through  cooperative play


Interagency Collaborations

Interagency collaboration for this transition point involves all agencies/programs in the community or region providing services for infant/toddlers and preschoolers (entry or exit). Effective collaboration requires joint planning and partnering. Partnering is established and maintained through the development of a mechanism for communication and information sharing across agencies. The team focus becomes development of a systematic plan for transition which includes understanding important aspects of existing or changing agency policies, roles, responsibilities and timelines. Interagency collaboration requires all stakeholders to value each other’s opinions and share responsibilities for making  transition work.

If a community decides not to develop an interagency agreement – another option to consider would be joint development of policies and procedures from early intervention to Preschool. This would include the early intervention providers within the community and the preschool providers (school district, Head Start, private preschools).  This could be accomplished at the regional level though the Special Education Cooperatives  and the District Early Intervention Councils or at the local level.