Sending their children to school is perhaps one of the most anticipated milestones for many parents.
While it can be quite daunting to know that their children will be on his or her own while at school, this exciting experience often propels parents to expose their children to classroom environment as early as possible.
With the prolific growth of early childhood care and education centers, parents sometimes can be overwhelmed in finding out not only which center would be the best choice in every aspect for their children, but also whether these centers will be able to deliver the proper education that their children need.
In Malaysia, there are several types of early childhood care and education (ECCE) centers. ECCE centers can range from childhood care centers, nursery schools, enrichment classes, preschools and kindergarten.
If you’re excited to start your child in ECCE, there are several basic things you will need to know before making any decision.
Here are the basic guidelines about sending your child to an ECCE center.
Your Child’s Readiness
First and foremost, you need to make sure that your child is ready.
Sending your child to a center before he or she is ready can be counter productive and even destructive in terms of the child’s experience. While it’s true there are many type of ECCE centers such as childcare center, enrichment classes and preschool and some of these centers accepts students from a very young age, each of this center or institution has its own set of readiness levels before the child can enroll.
With the exception of enrichment classes for babies such as baby jamborees or swimming classes where your presence is required, you need to make sure that your child is independent enough to be on his or her own for several hours.
Separation anxiety can be quite challenging to handle. So forcing your child to be in a classroom when he or she clearly does not want to can either traumatized your child from going to classes again or having mental block in receiving what is taught at these classes.
A child’s readiness is not only gauged by whether he or she can recognize shapes and colors or that he or she is deemed independent enough. The child also needs to be able to communicate basic needs and wants as well as respond to questions and instructions.
Children who are ready and mature enough (no matter what age they are) to understand the concept of school are more likely to positively respond to the syllabus and activities conducted at these centers.
Some countries such as England and Sweden do not encourage children to enter school any younger than 5 years old. This is because there are many researches conducted on the effectiveness of children starting school at an early age. The “too much too soon” is a real concept for many children and these countries are looking to avoid overwhelming the children with pressures of education that it robs away their chance of learning through play.
Type of Education Programs and Syllabus
You need to be aware of what type of program/s the center of your choice practices. This is important because you’re able to understand what the educators are teaching your child and it also helps you in gauging how your child is responding to the program.
Knowing what is taught to your child can help you to support and encourage your child in his or her classes, especially when he or she is having difficulty in catching up or grasping a new concept.
There are two main types of ECCE service:
Being aware of the syllabus conducted in any ECCE center will give you the assurance that your child is taught age-appropriate lessons. You can always do more research on your own if you feel a lesson is too advance for your child. This way, you’re able to discuss further with the educators at the ECCE center in finding the best solution for your child’s learning abilities and pace.
Many parents unconsciously neglect this part of the equation when it comes to sending their children to an ECCE center.
It’s not really anyone’s fault because the prospect of buying new school things for our children and seeing them skip into the school’s yard is exciting and really is a Proud Parent Moment.
But it’s vital that you understand why you want your child to start schooling.
Is it because you’re afraid that he or she might not be ready for the rigid format of formal schooling if you don’t start them as early as possible? Are you embarrassed that all your friends seem to be sending their children to enrichment classes and preschools, but you, you choose to wait it out just a while longer?
Contrary to many popular beliefs about sending children to centers with classroom environment to “break in” the experience for them, many experts agree that there are multitudes of other ways and methods for children to be ready for kindergarten or formal school.
The most important aspect of developing the skills necessary for school is to ensure a healthy, positive and loving learning environment anywhere, any time. There is no strict need for children to attend classes in order to properly learn. A study conducted by National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development found that children learn best if they’re cared for by someone who is genuinely interested in his or her well-being and development by providing age-appropriate activities.
If you’re a working parent and find it challenging to spend that much time to focus on your child’s learning development, you can opt to send your child to a high quality daycare facility or nursery school where the educators will fulfill the role of teaching your child. However, never forget to show interest in what your child has learned at these centers and grabbed every opportunity you can to teach your child at home as well.
Remember that this is a big step for your child just as it is for you. So you need to make sure that you’re comfortable and confident with the decision you have made.
It may feel tough at first, but when you see your child shrieked excitedly at the mention of school tomorrow because they’re excited to learn new things and meet their friends, you know your worries and anticipation and anxiety has paid off well.