What’s the right age to start preschool? It of course varies for every child, but early education experts share what parents should look for to ease this momentous journey!
Here in Singapore, we are lucky to have a local educational system that is a global leader and some of the very best international schools in the world. The thing is, there’s no hard and fast rule about how and where kiddos should learn before they can enter these fab schools a the age of 6.
Of course we are equally spoilt for choice when it comes to nursery and preschools – formal education often starts here at the age of 18 months – but many parents worry about starting their children too young; of course we want to foster a love of learning, but we also want our near-babies to benefit from a love of play and avoid burnout.
Given their expertise in early childhood development (their Infant and Toddler Atelier is one of our very favourite baby activities in Singapore, starting from 6 months!), Blue House Nursery & International Preschool provides wonderful support to children throughout their educational experience between 18 months and 6 years of age. It’s an absolutely ideal first school environment for little ones, who can blossom and flourish when they start Nursery around 18 months or age 2.
Read on for their tips and advice in response to parents’ most frequently asked questions and concerns…
What is the best first learning environment for my child?
A small, intimate environment is wonderful for children in their first experience ‘leaving’ you. A smaller, calmer space (such as our standalone Nursery Building), provides a less overwhelming and confronting experience for children. They feel greater ability to take ownership of their space a feel a sense of belonging to their new community.
Their new ‘school’ space should very much feel like an extension of their happy home environment, and therefore provide the child with feelings of trust and excitement so that it’s a place they will enjoy going.
We’ve heard about dramatically different approaches to drop-off and separation anxiety. How does Blue House approach this important transition?
Look for a place that provides a gentle introduction for children, which will support your child in slowly ramping up their time with you so they can gently build trust and learn each day to be comfortable leaving you for longer periods of time. At Blue House children might start with us for 45 minutes to 1 hour and across the days start staying for longer and longer periods of time. In the first 1-2 weeks, families can stand by in our on-site Pantry café (with a nice tea or coffee!) in case children need those supportive hugs from time to time.
What should we look for from teachers when visiting preschools?
A calm, nurturing environment with a warm welcome. Young children need lots of hugs, reassurance, time and investment in their wellbeing. A welcoming, calm and supportive space will evoke those same feelings in return from the child – calmness, curiosity, and nurture will help the child engage in a trusting relations with his/her educators and fellow classmates.
What physical characteristics should we look for in a preschool classroom?
A high teacher/child ratio and small numbers of children. At Blue House we have a maximum of 14 children to two Educators and one Teaching Assistant, so our ratio is 1:5. This allows us to provide children with all of the emotional and hands-on support that they need, particularly in those early weeks. Young children still need lots of cuddles, dialogue and reassurance!
Also, you may want to take note of whether children are required to wear a uniform. At Blue House we are strong advocates that a child’s choice of clothing is part of their personality, a way they can begin to express themselves to the world and communicate with us about who they are. We also believe that children who come to us wearing something that they are comfortable in – and perhaps an outfit that conjures happy memories of playing at home – will feel more at ease and more trusting.
Finally, look for a school that provides some flexibility in timing. For example, you may wish for your child to start just 2 or 3 mornings a week, or you may prefer 5, but it’s nice to have some flexibility for families as you start to work through what is best for your child, and can grow with them year on year.
Blue House offers a powerful pathway for children from 6 months to 6 years old, starting with the Infant & Toddler Atelier programme from 6 months of age, to the Nursery Programme from 18 months to 3 years of age, through to the Preschool and Kindergarten programme from 3 to 6 years of age. Click here to arrange a tour, mama, and prepare for an inspired journey.
Blue House Nursery & International Preschool, 2 Turf Club Road, #02 – 05 to 08, Singapore 287988, Tel: (+65) 6734 0824, www.bluehouseinternational.com