Preschools are cropping up fast at every nook and corner of your city enticing you to start your child’s preschool education at the earliest, lest he/she is left behind. But think on all the pros and cons before you enroll your little one in a preschool.
A month before she turned two, like any typical Indian parent, I too started worrying about my child’s early education. Looking around, I felt all the kids of my daughter’s age have either started their preschool or are gearing up for one. In panic, I too decided to go on a preschool hunting spree and was left flabbergasted on seeing the admission registers of various preschools; tots as young as 1.5 years were already being enrolled by parents and here I was still thinking whether to start my daughter’s preschool education. But once back home, I decided to take stock of the whole situation and think peacefully with my child’s father before jumping on the bandwagon.
A preschool, also known as playschool or kindergarten is an establishment which offers early childhood education to kids before they start compulsory education at a formal school. Most pre-schools in India start admissions when the kid is 2 or some even before that.
A typical scene at a preschool offers myriads of emotions to witness, especially during the beginning of the session.Tiny tots enter the school with parents tagging along who hold their kid in one hand and school bag in another. Some little ones can be seen shouting at the top of their lungs when they part from their parents, while the teary-eyed ones enter the school with a heavy heart, throwing backward glance every now and then. Brave hearts say their bye-byes happily, yet others don a blank look on their face since they can’t comprehend the whole meaning of school.
So you see there are different reactions to the same situation (starting the preschool) which obviously made me think if two really is the ideal age to start pre-school or should I wait for some more time. Like me, the dilemma about the right age to start preschool education vexes a lot of parents and the funny part is there is no rule of thumb which can answer this question satisfactorily.
After discussing on social media with my friends and unknowns, calling my relatives, acquaintances and talking to many other parents, if not a definite answer, I came to certain inferences: Foremost, before deciding on kid’s readiness for a pre-school it is important that you should gauge the whole personality of your child. Try answering the following questions. Do you see that your child mingles nicely with other kids when you take him to park? Does he stay comfortably with your mother or caregiver when you are not around? Is he able to communicate when he feels hungry or want to sleep? If you get a positive feedback on such developmental changes in your child, you might consider putting your toddler to preschool.
If you think that your child is hyperactive and needs to vent out his energy somewhere or the atmosphere in home is not conducive enough to broaden his horizon anymore, again you might want to consider enrolling him for preschool education for 2-3 hours initially. On the other hand, if the child doesn’t like it much to interact socially, is not a good –eater and has never stayed away from you, then the circle time can definitely wait. Still if you want to, try sending him just for an hour each day and see how it goes; which is exactly what I did. I sent my daughter to the preschool for 2 hours initially; slowly when I found that she is becoming social and outgoing, increased her pre-school timings and 3 months short of her 3rd birthday, she was attending preschool happily for full time.
Also, I would like to mention that some schools admit the child only if he is potty trained. So you might want to consider this “clause” before you make up your mind for a preschool.
Sometimes ,for parents it’s more of a practical decision to send their little angel to preschool as both of them work. If you can’t be hands-on parents all the time, then it’s a good option to put kid in a school where his needs are met in a healthy and happy atmosphere. Make sure to check the overall environment of the preschool before you leave your little one in someone else’s care.
But for some anxious parents if the motive behind forcing the kid to a preschool is totally focused on increasing a child’s intellectual level rather than enriching his social and emotional skills, the whole idea can backfire. Research has shown that “toddlers who are not ready and still spend all day in preschool have heightened levels of cortisol and other stress hormones by the afternoon.” Such a child either becomes shy,cocooned in his own world or can become really aggressive and to vent out anger he may hit other kids or cry or throw tantrums all the time in preschool. In such case you might want to wait till he is bit older. Instead, the child can be home-schooled where parents can bring lots of books and educational toys or have social gatherings at home where he can interact with other children of his age and become comfortable in a social setting before he starts a formal school.
The bottom line is that the ideal age to start preschool education depends on the temperament of an individual child and it’s only after the proper analysis based on the above given opinions, parents should make a choice.