Wondering whether your child is ready to start school, mama? Early childhood expert Barbara Deay of Tanderra explains how you’ll know the time is right.
As with most things in life, timing is everything. This is certainly true when deciding on when to start your child on their educational journey. Too soon and you risk your child not being ready and a poor first experience hindering future educational learning. Too late and you may have an unstimulated child who may be missing out on potential learning opportunities.
Parents are the same all over the world, and when the time comes, they all ask the one same question: When will my child be ready to start school? Sadly for parents, it is not as simple as all children should go to preschool at the age of eighteen months, or 3 years, or any other age that an educational institution deems best. Within the Reggio Emilia philosophy, it is believed that every child is different, all children develop at their own speed and will therefore be ready for preschool in their own time. In an age when we are inundated with a range of opinions on what is best for our children and with some 1,800 preschool options in Singapore alone, it is important to remember: there is no one size fits all approach to parenting, or education.
It is also important to remember that a child’s learning begins from birth. These core life skills are developed and extended with first playdates and group activities where children are able to learn and practice socialising, sharing, turn taking, negotiation and build emotional resilience. These initial experiences and developments provide the foundation for future learning and are a key step in all children’s learning journeys.
While there is a range of pressures for children to start school at a particular age including traditions, social demands, fears over your child being left behind or missing out on a space, it is important to remember, as parents, we only want what is best for our children and will always endeavour to make the right decisions for them. In this case, what is best for them is likely to be whatever makes them happy.
It is vital that a child’s first educational experience is a success, as this lays the foundation for everything that is to come. As discussed above, a key part of this is that the timing is right for the child but also for you, the parents. Research has shown that all parties must be ready, otherwise a parent’s trepidations may inadvertently impact their child and any anxieties they may be feeling. Your child will let you know when they are ready, which means you will need to be ready too.
So how will they let you know? Here are a few key signs to look out for which may indicate that they are ready to begin preschool, your child:
- is comfortable spending time away from you and other carers
- is fairly independent and understands and practices basic skills such as washing their hands or eating snack on their own
- wants to interact and play with other children
- begins asking questions about the world around them
- tells you they want to go!
Starting preschool is a huge milestone for both children and parents. Once you all know that the time is right, what lies ahead is a journey which will be filled with wonder, excitement and discovery. By truly being ready, the knowledge, skills and understandings your child will gain at this stage of their learning will prepare them not only for the next stage of their education as well as global citizens who are ready to take on the world.
Want to know more, mama? Consider checking out Tanderra’s Prepare for School Programme, which helps ensure a successful first education experience for children from 15 months of age.