The first five years of a child’s physical & mental development are of utmost importance. They lay a foundation of knowledge and skills for kids, thus how they end up spending the early years of their childhood is very important. The growing culture & requirement of preschools is a result of this emphasis on early structured education and learning along with increased focus on professional and career development of both sets of parents.
A lot of parents prefer to expose kids only to secure home environment under the supervision of grandparents or trained and trustworthy nannies. On the other hand, some parents choose to send their kids to play schools or preschools before kids get into the formal schooling system. None of the two approaches is wrong. It totally depends upon what suits the needs of the family. But if the family does choose to send kids to a play school, few big questions that need to be thought about are –
What is the ideal age to start?
Does age really matter?
What parameters should I consider while finalizing the play-school?
Is sending to play-school enough, or do I need some home interventions as well?
In this article lets try to answer the question “What is the right age to start Play-school for my kid?”
Well, the simple answer is that there is no ‘Perfect Age’ to begin school. All kids are SCHOOL READY at heir own pace. So to say, some kids are ready for play school at as early as 18 months while some need to wait till as long as 34 – 36 months. On an average, kids are usually ready to be put in an informal school setups like preschool or play-school by the age of 2. So, how would we know that the child is ready?
Any kid is School Ready if he/she meets most of the following criteria
- If the kid is toilet trained up to some extent. Which means if the kid can at least ask for a diaper change (Through words or actions) post pooping or if the diaper feels wet and heavy.
- If the kid has some confidence to be able to do activities independently or with some help of a supervisor.
- If the kid is not in an acute phase of separation or stranger anxiety & is able to be away from family for few hours.
- If the kid is able to communicate his /her needs like higher, thirst, pain etc to adults or to other children.
- If the kid enjoys stories, rhymes, music etc
- If the kid shows interest in exploring a new environment and outdoors.
- If the kid shows a desire or interest in going to school looking at other kids his / her age.
- If the kid has shown improvement in immunity and catches infections less often as compared to the first year of infancy.
If most of the above-mentioned criteria are met, parents should try by starting with lesser durations to let kids settle well in school. Starting with an arrangement like Parent-Toddler program help kids getting familiar with play school environment while still having the warmth and security of having parent/s around.
Sometimes few kids take longer than others to settle in school. They experience stranger anxiety, separation anxiety, difficulty in pooping or peeing in a new environment, loss of appetite, frequent stomach bugs, bouts of cough and cold etc. Usually all these issues settle down within a week or two, but if not, parents should be more patient and push play-school few months away by either a few more weeks of joint sessions through Parent Toddler programs or letting the kid be at home and doing home activities/interventions to build more confidence of the child.