"I only have so many hours in a day!”
That is the common statement that I hear other parents say when the discussion of time management comes in and we start factoring in work, leisure, as well as the time we spend with our children.
Having a newborn is a joyous and life-changing experience. For busy working parents, finding time in their schedules to make sure quality time is spent with their children is key.
Research has shown that the first five years are the formative years of a child’s life. A crucial period where the foundation shaping your child’s future health, happiness, and development occurs.
And with the first three years critical to the development of the brain, where learning skills and social abilities are impacted.
Preschool education in Singapore: Parents, get involved!
How then can busy parents actively participate in their child’s preschool education in Singapore? Below are 5 easy tips that parents can follow:
1) Be on the alert for learning opportunities around you
Don’t be stuck on your screen, or rely on your digital devices to manage the time you spend with your child. There are many learning opportunities found in the world around us.
Understand that at the development stage that your child is at, that they learn from the whole experience. Social, emotional, intellectual, language and physical lessons can be all gleaned from the experience, and their learning isn’t directed in isolation to any specific aspect.
“Actively use what you have around you in your immediate environment for discovery and discussion.Be on the alert for learning opportunities for your child."
'Always stand firm and never be swayed by the need for ‘screen time”, advises Ms Katherine Koh, Principal of MY World @Pasir Ris to parents who might have challenges in finding learning opportunities for their children.
2) Contribute to your child’s pre-school in other ways
The imagination of children knows no bounds, there are many things around the house that we take for granted, or throw away without a second look.
What might appear as trash at first glance, could be a learning resource in the hands of our early childhood educators! These materials may have a place in the lesson plans and activities that will greatly benefit your child’s learning and development.
“Help collect recycled materials for centres."
"These materials can be used as art resources or for early childhood educators to create learning resources for the children", suggests Ms Susan Tan, Zone Principal of Kinderland Preschool.
Through re-purposing unwanted items, you can nurture your child’s creativity as well, encourage a love for the environment and to adopt early the lesson of “waste not, want not”.
3) Have regular check-ins with your child and your child’s early childhood educators, no matter how short
The responsibilities and duties don’t end and start when you drop off your child and pick them up from pre-school. Make time to know your child better, be engaged and invested in what they learn and do in class.
Quality time is key for the both of you to understand each other better, bond intimately as a family, and grow as a family.
“Engage with your child’s early childhood educators during pick up and drop off periods. Ask them to share a detail or two about your child’s day with you."
"Most educators would be happy to update parents’ their child’s progress.” Advises Ms Zahara Farouk, Principal of Little Footprints Preschool @ Yishun 701A to parents who struggle to find time.
Make time as well to keep in touch with your child’s early childhood educators during drop off, and pick up times to ask about your child’s day in school.
Your child’s early childhood educator will be able to see signs of any development challenges and issues that you might miss out at home, and share with you steps moving forward. Remember, for your child, the learning and exploration never stops!
By sustaining positive communication with your child’s early childhood educators, you are also role-modeling to your child how to build relationships with others.
4) Tap on digital solutions for more effective communication with your child’s pre-school and early childhood educators
Being proactive doesn’t mean having to make time to head down personally all the time. Keep abreast of the pre-school’s activities through digital and mobile communication platforms!
Is there a planned excursion or learning journey that the pre-school might need extra hands on? Is there a sports event or Parents’ Day around the corner?
“The early childhood educators from my pre-school like to involve our parents in the planning of excursions and events through mobile chat groups."
"We circulate memos through emails and chat groups so that all parents are aware of the school activities and children's learning and can provide feedback in a timely manner.” Ms Nai Beh Bee, Principal, Little Footprints Schoolhouse@ Punggol mentions.
By keeping in touch with your child’s early childhood educators, you’ll be able to plan ahead and be notified through updates and memos from the school. You will also always be in the know, and work around scheduling issues when things come up, and timings clash.
5) No matter how busy you are, make time to be part of your child’s learning journey
Pre-schools know that in the learning journey your child goes through, both you as a parent and your child’s early childhood educator play a role together as a team.
They will organise events where you as a parent will be heavily involved in the activity as well, from music recitals, plays, and excursions.
“Pre-schools will create opportunities for parents to experience their child’s learning together with the children, so do participate in school events, learning journeys and excursions organised by your child’s pre-school if you can!” Says Ms Zahara Farouk, Principal, Little Footprints Preschool @ Yishun 701A.
Make time for these events, as they will be important learning and bonding sessions for you and your child. Simple activities such as reading to your child’s class, or having your child read to you go a long way.
Being part of the lesson and activity will also give you better insight as to how your child interacts in a learning environment outside of home, and how his/her relationships are like with others.