In an educational hotbed like Singapore, it’s sometimes surprising to discover that while schooling can start at as young as 18 months, kids aren’t required to attend school until Primary 1 – usually around the age of 6! Some mamas can’t wait to get their energetic munchkins out of the house and into a more structured environment, while others don’t want to let their babies go out into the world on their own so soon.
We all want what’s best for our children, and while it’s clear that every child develops at his or her own pace, educational experts agree that the earlier children are exposed to a school environment, the more chances they’ll have to develop their social, emotional and communication skills.
Preschool can be a big leap for small children, and you might be wondering, How can I tell if my little one is ready? We reached out to experts at Australian International School (AIS), including Kirsti Hitz-Morton, Assistant Head of the Early Years Centre, and Rachael Symes, AIS Head of Prep Welfare and Administration, for tips on how to tell if your baby is truly ready for school. Read on for their expert advice, mamas!
Self-management skills: Help your child become self-sufficient by encouraging them to attempt tasks by themselves, such as getting dressed or drying themselves after a swim or bath. The 2-year-olds at AIS Nursery start the day by putting their water bottles away in the fridge, and Kirsti recommends that children of this age learn to walk on their own and carry their own backpack into the Nursery each day. This teaches them to be independent, guided by the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) framework, which promotes attitudes of independence, cooperation and confidence.
Independence: Children have to be ready to deal with separation. If your child hasn’t had many opportunities to be away from you, try scheduling a weekend with grandparents or a day with your neighbours and their kids. Attending Nursery and Preschool, even a few sessions a week, is also great way for children to experience separation before entering a full-time programme in primary school.
Language capabilities: Help develop your child’s language skills by building engagement through shared story book reading, discussing illustrations and plot, or drawing attention to signs and labels in your environment. The AIS Early Years Literacy specialist develops each child’s focus and attention from the age of 2 through regular storytelling whilst also encouraging an early love for literature.
Social competence: Joining an environment with other children should help your child learn to share and take turns in group activities. Find ways to encourage spending time with peers by joining neighbourhood team sports, group art classes at your nearest community centre or playgroups with other mums. AIS hosts regular free playgroups guided by Early Years curriculum specialists, which offer interactive learning for children 1 to 4 years old (register for the next one here!).
Cognitive capabilities: Almost every situation lends itself to mathematic development. Practise counting whilst packing away toys, or make sorting the washing a fun game by matching pairs of clothes. At AIS Units of Inquiry under the IB curriculum framework enable Preschool children to understand mathematic concepts within a real-life context. A recent unit of inquiry called ‘How the World Works’ taught children the concept of heavy and light by counting objects on a set of weighing scales. Why not try this at home, or at the supermarket?
The name of the game is to proceed at your child’s own pace, mama! Some children are more eager to learn new things and expand their social horizons earlier than others, and that’s just fine! We know that enrolling your child in Preschool is a big decision, and while it may be difficult to part from your child for the first time, the benefits for your young learner will be immeasurable. Find out more about the Nursery and Preschool at AIS by enquiring now or registering for the AIS Open House on 12 August!
Australian International School Pte Ltd is registered by the Council for Private Education. CPE Registration Number 199204405H. Period of Registration 6 July 2015 to 5 July 2019.
Australian International School, 1 Lorong Chuan Singapore 556818, Tel: (+65) 6883 5155, www.ais.com.sg