There’s quite a bit of controversy over when to enrol your child in kindergarten. Some people say the earlier the better, others swear by waiting another year. There’s been quite a few studies as well to determine what factors mean a child is ready to be enrolled. It’s not an easy process for parents, even with the help of professionals.
When it comes to early childcare education or preschool, however, the answer to, “should I enrol my child as soon as possible”, is an easier one. There’s quite a few reasons why enrolling early in childcare will help your child overall, and even become more prepared for kindergarten. We’ve listed some of the main reasons, as well as a quick few questions to ask yourself if your child is ready to move on to kindergarten.
Prepare them academically and socially
School readiness one of those buzzwords you hear quite a bit these days. It includes not just how you know when your child is ready to go to school, but also how to prepare them mentally and socially for the 12 plus years of education.
The great thing about childcare is that they’re placed in a group with other children, and an adult facilitator to help establish basic academic structures and social cues and settings. While children absolutely still need the room to establish their own methods of play, it’s good to provide a really basic construct around play time, nap time, snack time, etc. Some childcare in Wellington and elsewhere may focus more heavily on one or the other, so just have a think about what you think would fit your child better.
Confidence, self esteem
Being connected to other adults and children who care about their learning and them as a person will help them grow a more healthy level of confidence and self-esteem. Studies show that self-esteem comes from knowing they are loved and supported, as well as being encouraged to try things and being praised for things they’re good at.
You as parents are paramount to this skill, but being in childcare will enforce confidence building further, by allowing your child to try even more things and watch other children try, and often fail, as well.
Pretty self explanatory, childcare provides a foundation to prepare them academically for school. Things like math and literacy are proven to be assisted when started early, especially in a fun and confidence building environment like early childcare.
Professionals to assess issues
By having your child in childcare, you know that they’re being taken care of by professionals. Part of the benefit to this is using their expertise to help assess your child for any major developmental delays or learning issues. This will help you get on the right track as early as possible for providing as much support to your child as you can, rather than waiting until kindergarten to determine any issues.
Childcare fills up early
On a different note, you need to be aware of how fast childcare fills up and how prepared you need to be. If there isn’t a fee or issue with backing out of an application, start filling them out and sending them in as soon as you can. Even if you don’t think your child is ready, remember that you might not be admitted for quite some time, and may be on a waitlist anyway.
How to know when your child is ready?
When it finally comes time to enrol your child in kindergarten, you’ll find that it is a lot easier to assess if your child was in preschool beforehand. Included below are a few checklist items you should think about before enrolling.
- Earlier isn’t always better
One big issue with putting your child in kindergarten before they are ready is setting them up for years of issues. If you force them to take on tasks that they aren’t ready for yet, they will constantly feel like they are failing and can’t keep up. You may need to hold your child back a year as well, which can be embarrassing later on in school years, or just simply be a waste of time.
- Ask the expert
A huge benefit of having your child enrolled early in preschool is that you get to utilise the expertise of the teachers. Preschool teachers are often trained heavily in childhood development, and can recognise signs of achievement or delays. Make sure you ask their opinion before enrolling.
- Emotional and social maturity
Does your child have the emotional and social maturity to enter school? For example, can they make individual decisions without the help of you or their teachers? Can they follow instructions and handle a few tasks at once? Are they interested in learning and excited about school?
Experts say that things like being able to read or recognise the alphabet are actually not as important as we once thought. These are skills they’re going to school to learn, so they don’t necessarily need a jump ahead in this department. Maturity, coping mechanisms, and excitedness to learn are much more important when assessing readiness.
Hopefully we’ve been able to help you discern the difference between enrolling early for preschool and early childhood education, and enrolling early for kindergarten. Remember that you know your child best, but to keep your opinions open to the suggestions of experts, and also what your child wants to do.
Sometimes kids really do know best, and forcing them into something they aren’t ready for yet can end up being a bit traumatic. Give them the tools they need with early enrollment into childcare, and then take your time with assessing the readiness for kindergarten, and you’ll be setting your child up for years of successful future education.