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Is She Ready For Preschool?


Many first-time parents are keen to know how they can help their children prepare for primary school. Aside from the cost issue, what else do parents have to consider when deciding on how to guide their child's development and education?

Before Enrolling To Any Centre

Help children to be more independent by gradually extending their personal playtime. Take them to places where they can meet and socialise with other children. Establish good routines such as reading time and playing time. Regular gatherings among relatives also build confidence in them to relate to adults. Finally, make sure there are plenty of materials and resources available at home for your children to play with and refer to when needed.

Selection Of Preschool

Parents have many options to choose from. There are enrichment classes which provide regular weekly programmes lasting one to three hours per session, kindergarten classes that are conducted daily for about three hours each, and childcare centres that provide half-day and full-day services. 

The type of service you take would depend on your budget and the availability of alternate care. Once decided on the type of service, parents should apply the following criteria in choosing the providers: 

Ownership

Parents should get to know the owners of the centres they are interested in. My personal belief is that a centre cannot provide excellent care for your children if the owners themselves are not trained in preschool education. They should also be focused on managing the business and not have full-time or part-time jobs elsewhere.

Teachers

Talk to the teacher personally. Find out if the centre provides regular training for them. Do not discriminate teachers that are too young or too old. Focus on their qualities instead. Get a sense of their commitment and eagerness to work with children. Ask about the student-to-teacher ratio and ensure that some form of regular communication exists between the teachers and the parents. A good centre also has excellent staff retention policies. 

Environment

A good environment suitable for children must be safe and hygienic. This means there should be regular cleaning and disinfecting of the premises. Centres should also have appropriate sets of food menu. There must be sufficient space and the right fixtures and furnishing. A stimulating environment has an inspiring combination of colors, sounds, textures, smells, lights and adequacy of exciting materials for children.

Curriculum

The curriculum of the school should emphasise on authentic learning and life experiences instead of academic results. Learning through play is the most commonly accepted concept today, and many preschool centres are moving in this direction. Some parents prefer the Montessori method of teaching, while others swear by the Multiple Intelligences (MI) way of learning. Parents should take their time to find out more about different approaches (the Internet is a good tool).

Preparing The Children For School

Separation anxiety can be minimised by working with the teachers. Most children will cry in the hands of strangers. So parents must be psychologically prepared. Take the child to the centre a few more times prior to admission to help her adjust better. Shorten her stay in the first few days. Be cheerful and encouraging at home. Be patient with her reluctance to go to school.

Most children will settle down in two to four weeks. Do not be too quick to change centres; give your child time to adjust. Most children inevitably fall sick within the first few months in the centre. This is usually because they do not have the immunity against the viruses that may exist in relatively crowded centres. So avoid judging the centres too harshly or too soon. Instead, be prepared mentally and always seek a doctor's advice when your child is unwell.

While They Are In School

Pop by the school once in a while to talk to the teachers and personally see how your child performs. Share with teachers regarding your child's progress at home. Volunteer for school events and do not be afraid to give feedback to the school. A good centre always lets parents know their child's schedule in the coming weeks. Talk to your child and take her to places that are related to the topics the class will be covering.

Go through her work with her and always remember to praise her. Parents should try to disregard the anxiety of not seeing worksheets from schools. Instead, focus on what the child does in school and how she interacts with her teachers and peers.

Enrichment Classes

Do remember that your child is still very young and childhood is supposed to be fun and sweet. Therefore, parents should not overcrowd the child's time with too many enrichment classes after school. Instead, observe and talk to the child to find out what she really likes to do and provide her with the opportunity to learn those things. Talk to her and make her commit to the activities on a term basis.

Nowadays, many childcare centres provide enrichment classes in the afternoon. These are outsourced to service providers that are specialised in different areas. It is a good idea as it gives parents more time in the weekends to spend with their children. However, a good centre will always ensure that these classes are optional and children who do not sign up will still be attended to appropriately.

Respecting The Profession

Many parents have preconceived ideas of how their children should be brought up while others rely on hearsay. Confirm or support your notions with research and reading. Another source of information is from the centre your child attends. Good centres offer free articles that are related to the development of children. The teachers, who are qualified with extensive experience, are always willing to help. Approach them and be open to their ideas or suggestions.

Managing Expectations

Finally, ask yourself what you really want your child to achieve at this age. Is this goal what you really want for yourself subconsciously or something beneficial for your child? Also be realistic with your expectations. Your child is just two to six years old and is suppose to have fun. She is entitled to it!

 

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