As soon as our children celebrate their first birthdays, we all start pondering about the best time to start preschool. Well, there is no reason to blame anyone. After all, we took care of them for the entire 1 year and now it’s time we get a few hours for ourselves. If you are thinking that, there is nothing to be guilty about. However, if this is the reason, a preschool doesn’t have to be the solution. There are other options for you that will benefit your child in a better way.
My son started school at the age of 2, which is usually the best time to start preschool. However, there is no hard and fast rule about the right age for starting preschool. It all comes down to your child’s development and if he is ready to start school or not.
A Major Misconception
Most parents I know, have the misconception that a child needs to go to school if he is not very social and is not eager to learn and explore. They think a preschool will develop his social and learning skills. That is not true and in reality, the factors to determine the best time to start preschool are totally different.
So, how can you tell when your child is ready?
- Does he follow instructions carefully?
A pre-school program includes a lot of play based and educational activities. Your child should be able to understand and follow instructions. Failing to do so can lead to frustration in both the teacher and the child. You may consider working on activities with him to develop his ability to take instructions.
- Does he get along with other children well?
Good social skills are important for your child to benefit from a preschool program. If your child never warms up in front of other children, sending him off to a preschool might not be the best idea. He will likely sit in a corner with a blank face, avoiding all participation in group activities. To help him develop social skills, a day care facility or a mother/child playgroup facility is a good option, as compared to a rigorous preschool program. When you think his social skills are developed, it is the best time to start preschool.
- Does your child play and work on activities alone?
Does your child ask you for assistance in everything like clay work, painting and colouring or does he work on these activities alone? If he plays alone, his focus and concentration are good enough for preschool. On the other hand, if he doesn’t focus on any activity without your assistance, you may have to encourage some solo play time to develop these abilities before you start school.
A preschool, nursery, or a Montessori school, whatever you call it, is a huge transition for the child. Your goal should be to put him in a program that will benefit him, not belittle him. If your child isn’t ready, he is likely going to hate going to school. For him, a loving and nurturing day care facility might be the best option.
On other hand, if your child is an active explorer, plays alone all the time, indulges in role play, gets himself engrossed in books and puzzles and is happy with other children, a preschool will benefit him greatly and it is definitely the best time to start preschool.