From a cute little thing that can barely stand steady, let alone walk – it won’t be long before your tiny bundle of joy gets bored with staying at home all day long.
Before you know it, your kids will be flying from one end of the house to another, in an unconscious attempt to spend their never-ending supply of ‘child energy’. Trying to keep them calm and satiated, you’ll eventually realize that you’re fighting a losing battle.
Once they cross the ‘toddler’ stage, children’s bodies and minds enter a phase of rapid growth. It’s at this point that you can slowly but steadily prepare them for life. Often, the first challenge that life will throw at them is school – learning to learn, and learning to get along with peers.
The best way to get your child accustomed to a life of formal education is to make them attend preschool.
However, the question that plagues most parents is this – “What age to start preschool at?” For most parents, a simple one-word answer to this question isn’t enough to help them decide. A lot of people want to know just how long they can hold off sending their children to playschool.
If you’re still unsure about what’s the right age for preschool, here’s a little something to help you out.
The Early Birds
The general consensus among parents is ‘the earlier, the better.’ There aren’t really any disadvantages to making your child join preschool early. Most preschools have an age cut-off of 2.5 to 3 years.
Research will tell you that children who go to preschool early develop better social skills, start school with a better command on language, and have a broader knowledge base. If you think your child is ready to leave the confines of your home and interact with other children at an early age, go right ahead and enroll them in a good preschool near you.
The Red Shirts
“Redshirting” is a term generally used for athletes who are kept back from university competitions, to help them develop their skills for the next year. When it comes to your kids, don’t be afraid to hand them the metaphorical ‘red shirt’ if you think they could benefit more from staying at home for another year or so.
It’s perfectly OK to not start preschool at 2 or 3 years of age. In fact, according to independent studies held across the globe with small samples of children who started preschool late, it could actually be advantageous.
Children who were slightly older than their peer group showed no signs of being weaker at grasping concepts or learning something new. Some of them even fared better than their younger counterparts. Don’t worry if your neighbor’s 3 year old is going to preschool and your 4 year old isn’t.
However, if your child is over 5, it’s better you let them join school straight away. They may take some time to get used to it; once they do, though, it’s smooth sailing from there.
Remember that preschool isn’t really about academics. If you think that sending your kids to preschool will make them better students in school, that defeats the entire purpose. Preschool is a place for your kids to socialize, to make them understand that learning is fun, and to teach them how to share, compromise, and work with a group.
Different children have different learning curves and have their own way of getting their head around things. No one knows your child better than you, so weigh all your options thoroughly before you decide to take the preschool plunge.