Should I send my child to preschool? All your early education questions, answered!
A mom’s heart-to-heart talk with a preschool teacher eases her worries about letting her child start preschool.
I have a little boy. He’s an adorable three-year-old firecracker who loves to sing, draw and chatter. He’s bright and happy, and every day he’s learning new things. My mommy friends say he’s ready for preschool. I think so too, since he’s always so curious about the world. At the same time, I think he’s still a baby! Part of me wants to keep him home for another year or two, but another part of me recognises that he needs more mental and social stimulation that I, as a busy working mom, need help with.
What should I do? Thankfully, we have wonderful early childhood educators to help me with this conundrum. I sat down with Ms Jane Mayriel Singh, Senior English Language Teacher of The Little-Skool-House International By-The-Vista. She definitely made an impression as a professional who understands how to teach and nurture young children when she happily answered my many questions.
theAsianparent: Hi Jane! I think my little boy is ready for preschool. But he’s just three years old, and if all he does at preschool is play, won’t he be better off having playdates with his friends?
Jane: During the early years, play is the medium through which children acquire knowledge and make sense of the world around them. When your child comes home and shares that he played in school that day, rest assured that he has also picked up relevant concepts and skills related to language and literacy or numeracy, through play.
theAsianparent: That’s great to know. You see, I’m confused by the contradicting views on preschool education. While some parents believe a child should go to school at seven years old, others are sending their child to preschool at three or younger. Can you enlighten me on the benefits of children attending preschool?
Jane: Many studies show that there are various benefits of children attending preschool. These benefits include enhanced social-emotional development, language, and cognitive development. During preschool, there are countless opportunities for children to interact with their peers, become aware of social cues, and practise prosocial behaviours like sharing. Teachers also model positive language and behaviours. This helps to expose children to new vocabulary that they can use to communicate with others. In preschool, children are encouraged to take initiative of their learning, and practise self-help skills like feeding themselves and being responsible for their own belongings. Children will develop their confidence, independence, and sense of agency, as they are encouraged to make decisions.
theAsianparent: Aside from play and self-help skills, will my child also learn about math and science? I see some of my friends’ kids who are already doing addition and memorising the continents! What can I do better to understand my child’s learning and activities carried out in school?
Jane: Schools plan activities that are developmentally appropriate for the children. What your child learns in school is planned according to their interests or in the context of a certain theme. For instance, during festivals, they will learn about related traditions and culture. Children are competent and capable learners who are encouraged to take ownership of their learning. Parents are encouraged to communicate with their child’s teachers if they have any queries. Rest assured that as trained professionals, your child’s teachers know the appropriate pace and method to support your child’s holistic learning and development.
theAsianparent: Can I also take ownership of my child’s learning? As a co-educator of my child, how can I expand on what the teachers have taught in school, to support my child’s learning at home?
Jane: Parents are indeed integral partners in supporting the child to realise his or her potential. The first thing is to be aware of what your child is learning in school. Look out for updates from your child’s teacher or feel free to ask about specific concepts or skills taught.
The next thing you can do is to reinforce these concepts or skills at home. Some teachers might prepare a related parental involvement activity. Otherwise, you can also make use of common household materials to engage your child in meaningful and fun activities to deepen your child’s understanding of various concepts.
For example, if your child is working on the concept of counting, you can incorporate this at home by providing items like fruits, bread tags, or fridge magnets to practise counting with your child. There are many possibilities to unleash your creativity to support your child’s learning at home!
theAsianparent: We’ve established the importance of reinforcement of school lessons at home. I’m a busy working mom. Do I have to be involved in school activities, too?
Jane: It can be challenging for working parents to be involved in their child’s school activities. However, the good news is that you can participate actively in home-based parental involvement activities prepared by the teachers. These include making simple crafts like paper lanterns or creating props for show-and-tell with your child.
Usually, these activities are designed to inform parents of what their child is learning in school. Take this opportunity to spend some quality time learning together with your child. Show that you value his/her learning and efforts in school!
theAsianparent: Jane, you sound so enthusiastic about me being involved with my child’s education. Will my little boy also like it that his mommy is continuing his lessons at home? What are some of the positive behaviours which can be observed in my child if I am more involved?
Jane: Research has shown that higher levels of parental involvement improves self-esteem, motivation and nurtures a positive attitude towards school. Teachers will also appreciate your partnership in revisiting and completing the activities at home, which is a strong indicator of your interest.
Another way to stay informed about your child’s development is to maintain consistent communication with the teachers. While face-to-face communication is ideal, you can also get in touch with teachers through the preferred communication channels that various preschools would have in place.
theAsianparent: How can I communicate my preschool concerns to my child’s teacher without appearing critical? What can I do to better understand my child’s learning and activities in school?
Jane: To better understand what your child is learning in school, it is important to build a positive and respectful relationship with your child’s teacher. With regular communication and feedback, not only will you be able to share valuable information about your child, but also exchange ideas and strategies that best support your child’s learning with your child’s teacher.
Establishing a good rapport between parents and teachers helps to ensure that all parties work hand-in-hand to support the child’s holistic development. Teachers will appreciate your feedback if they know that you trust them in caring for your child and will be happy to clarify any concerns you might have. Remember, as partners in your child’s learning journey, positive communication between parents and teachers is important!
My talk with Teacher Jane was enlightening. I could sense her passion and professionalism as an educator. She helped me better appreciate the important role of early childhood educators in shaping the future of our children. They are my partners in laying the foundation for future learning, not just academically but holistically as my child also learns about independence, self-confidence, and how to relate to the world around him. I am now convinced that my little boy will enjoy a new world outside our home. And I am looking forward to meeting my son’s teachers when he starts preschool soon!