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When is the right age to start Preschool?

by on 09/04/2018 1111

The world as we know it is extremely competitive. Children in the past generally enjoy many years of sheer enjoyment of not having a school to attend, but children today are being sent to preschool in droves. It's not a surprise that more and more preschools are being set up to provide the fundamentals of learning to these children.

A vast majority of parents tend to opt towards this alternative due to a few reasons :

 

  • Provides an avenue for children to develop social skills by interacting and befriending one another.

  • Prepares a child mentally, physically and emotionally for formal education.

  • Teaches a child to make choices in life.

  • Provides a structured environment by having a set of rules and a schedule to abide to.

  • Promotes language and cognitive skills.

  • Teaches them to take care of one another and develop empathy.

  • Develop a child’s gross and fine motor skills.

 

child drawing

 

There has been much emphasis on the right age to start pre-school, but let’s take a step back: Is that truly relevant? At times, it’s not the age of the individual that matters; but rather, the aptitude and ability of the said person to adapt to an environment. You can put a child aged 5 years old in a school environment and that same child may throw a huge fit. On the other hand, you may have a child at 3 years old but is mild mannered, able to sing and dance cooperatively and communicate effectively with the friends and teachers in school. So which of these two kids are better adapted to start preschool?

No surprises there for guessing the right answer. While most preschools accept children aged 3 and above in their enrolment, there are a few key questions that you should first consider before you send your child to a preschool.

01)Is your child independent?

It’s important that the child is able to use the toilet on his own, and also wash up when needed to. There are times when the teaching assistant (TA) will be occupied, so it’s imperative that the child is able to handle these toilet issues on their own. If your child has difficulty memorizing the steps, try teaching a song or a rhyme, or you can even draw a series of small instructions and pasting it on the wall so your child could remember it.

02)Is your child able to spend some time away from you?

If your child is new to the idea of being away from you, try introducing a babysitter / family member / relative to tend to them for a while. Give them a chance to be away from you, such as a weekend in with grandparents, or an outing with the aunt! Incorporate a ritual that you would say or do that makes him feel special, such as a hug and a high 5; and let him know what he can expect when he’s away from you. It helps work out the separation anxiety and allows them to adjust to an environment without you in short doses.

03)Can your child work on their own?

If your child is able to play with the toys or do anything on his own at home without much handholding or mollycoddling, he is pretty much set for preschool. If your child has difficulty working on his own, try to set up playtimes so he is able to entertain himself for a duration of time. For instance, as you are washing dishes, you can allow him to play with some Lego blocks. This helps build long stretches of solo activity so that they are independent and will get on their own without much help.

04)Can your child participate in group activities?

Most preschools have group activities like “circle time” which requires all children to participate. For this period of time, they would be sitting down, singing or listening to stories or even playing with some musical instruments. For most kids who are below 3 years old, they may not be developmentally ready, making it difficult for them to maintain their focus in such activities and playing with other children. To cope with this, most parents plan playdates with other parents and enrol their children in a short class (eg: music or dance class).

 

child dancing

 

05)Is your child used to having a schedule?

Most preschool centres find it a necessity to have a schedule because it allows the child to be in control and knows what to anticipate after an activity. If your child is not used to having a schedule yet, you can try starting it by having a meal based on a regular timetable and planning their activities based on a fixed agenda (Eg: bath time, dinner, TV time, story time, bedtime).

06)Is he able to cope with the physical or sports demand in preschool?

There are ample things to be discovered in life, and it is not just confined to a secular environment. There will be lots of activities when your child starts being involved in preschool (eg: field trips, arts and craft, science projects, sensory play, and various playgrounds to visit). Ask yourself if your child would be able to cope with such activities, or would he be tired out and cranky the next day? If he is active and could last like a wind-up toy for the whole day, chances are, he is able to cope with the physical demands in preschool. If your child is easily tired out and would need a nap after every activity, he may not be ready and he’ll need some assistance. Perhaps you could consider enrolling on a half-day program to ease him into the hustle and bustle of a schooling environment and gradually increase the duration of school day as he gets more comfortable.

At the end of the day, there is no correct answer for this question. The general rule of kindergartens accepting a child of 3 years old and above is because children who are at this age range would be at the pre-operational stage of Piaget’s theory. It is at this stage the children will start asking “why”, so having a schooling environment helps to answer most of their questions. It all comes back down to the child’s development and knowing the reasons you are sending your child to preschool. If your child is not getting enough stimulation at home and he views it as a chance to expand his horizons, chances are, it’s timely for him to start school.

Reference : Babycenter, Cognifit