Is my Little One Ready for School?
Many parents begin feeling the “uneasy” question that plagues every Mommy and Daddy — is my baby ready to go to school? For each parent individually, this decision should not be taken lightly. Before considering the pros and cons of preschool education, parents must first and foremost consider their own family situation. For many parents who work full-time, entering their child in daycare or preschool is not always as a result of desire but of necessity. Although we would all love to keep children home with us until they are 18 (or maybe until their teenage years at least), realistically, bills must be paid and therefore, kids must get cared for by relatives, daycares, and then eventually, preschools.
For the other parents who may work only part-time or be at home with their little one, the decision to send their child to preschool seems to be even more overbearing. What if they don’t like the teacher? What if the other kids pick on them? What could they possibly learn in preschool that I can’t teach them at home? I don’t want them to grow up too fast–should I keep them home until Kindergarten or, gasp!–first grade?!
When it comes down to it, a parent can only do what he or she feels is right. Never let anyone make this big decision for you. The largest obstacle parents face in 2015 is fully understanding the benefits of preschool. For that reason, we are going to present some insight into our beliefs when it comes to Early Education–it may sound scary, but it is certainly important!
Why does my child need peers? They have siblings so isn’t that enough?
While we would never degrade the immense power having a sibling at home can give a developing child, siblings and peers are not exactly the same thing. Siblings live in the same home and experience the same or similar upbringings. Whereas siblings can without a doubt have vastly different personalities, the fact that they know the same cousins, the same aunts and uncles, and the same neighbor, Mr. Smith, siblings cannot offer an array of similarities and differences that peers can possess. By having a “friend,” we expose ourselves to new and interesting conversations, experiences, and cultures. We become exposed to different music, films and clothing choices. Peers help us see elements of life outside of our norm. This is quite the same for preschoolers. While a preschooler is developing, peers become one of the highest influencers in their social and cognitive enhancements. We, as adults, may hear babbling but those “babbles” are the brickwork on a foundation of conversation. By “speaking” with peers daily or frequently, preschoolers enhance their vocal skills and with that, their cognitive understanding of verbal questions and responses.
Beyond vocal interaction, preschools learn how to interact while in play. Is that my toy? In many cases, a wobbly toddler’s first notion is, “Why, yes! That is my toy because I want it!” By interacting under the direct supervision of a preschool teacher, preschoolers begin to learn and understand sharing and cooperative play. A teacher is there to monitor the exchange of fun and makes sure to step in if sharing does not go exactly as planned. The greatest benefit to having a teacher there with your little one is the explanation–we don’t learn by hearing a simple “no.” We learn by being told “no” and receiving an explanation of why something we want desperately is not nice, fair, or good for someone else or ourselves. These explanations give children a sense of satisfaction that although they did not get what they want, they did not hurt their friend. Also, with that explanation, children learn not to do something again that may cause harm or tears.
Interaction plays a key role in the development of a preschooler. Interaction will play a key role in his or her life for many years to come. It is within our experience that we have come to be full believers in the benefits of play-groups, attending a friend’s birthday parties, and meeting new kids at the neighborhood playground. It is also our belief that preschool interaction does not have a competitor–it is a lone-ranger on the pursuit for a happy and vocal young man or lady!
What is a routine? Many of you may believe you know what a daily routine entails–however, have you ever thought about the benefits for a Preschooler following an academic/play routine?
When a Preschooler enters an academic-based school, routine should be one of the top objects of discussion for an inquiring parent or guardian. Is the schedule the same every day? What forms of variety within the schedule change? Should I be following a routine similar to school’s at home? These questions should be asked when choosing a school for your youngster. Academics are important but getting your Preschooler to be comfortable, acclimated, and independent are more important in the long-run.
Let’s begin with the first question: Is the schedule the same every day?
The answer to this question should be yes but there is some wiggle room here. The most important aspects of developing a school or classroom routine revolves around major times in the child’s school day. A major area is DROP-OFF. Drop-off can be very difficult for new students and sometimes just as difficult for mommies and daddies. Preschoolers are used to being with you in most cases and therefore, the separation can create much anxiety at 8AM! This is what we suggest. As a parent, understand your child may cry, kick, scream and run when they even get close to their new school. THIS IS NORMAL! If you are one of the 5% of parents whose child does not cry the first day-month of school, well congratulations to you! You are certainly the exception, not the rule.
When you bring your child to school, make it an absolute point to arrive to school on time (being late is simply a bad habit to teach) and try to arrive daily within the same 10-15 minute window. When you do arrive, follow your teacher’s policy on dropping off (whether that be assisting your child to take their coats off or simply dropping your child off at the door leaving the undressing to your teacher). Your teacher, if he or she knows the correct approach to “routine,” should do his/her best to form a barrier between you and your child. This may seem harsh but it is needed. When that barrier is presented your child may spaz out–“do not worry! As teachers we learn these barriers are the best for you and for your child. Typically, your child, unable to visually connect with you, will form a new visualÂ connection within the classroom that will momentarily move their tears to curiosity. At this point, it is the teacher’s job to keep that student motivated to play, do the pledge, or eat morning snack. Moral of the story–don’t linger Mom and Dad! Get in and then get out!
Beyond drop-off, routine should be followed throughout the day during academic periods, play periods, eating periods, etc. It is very important that children understand the basic routine of their day so they know what their personal expectations are. These expectations can range from “I know math just ended, potty time comes next so don’t go in my pants” to “We just finished napping, now we go to Spanish class.” Regardless of your child’s verbal skill, children understand routine and grow to expect their “usual.” It is within this usual that children thrive the most.
What forms of variety within the schedule change?
Whereas setting up a routine proves valuable for a developing Preschooler, their daily schedules should never be 100% the same from day to day. If their curriculum includes Literacy, Math, Gym and Science, these classes should occur daily but the times can alternate. Here is the trick! If the curriculum includes classes that are not given daily (for example our curriculum includes Spanish, Mandarin, and Computers) these classes should occur at the same time weekly. Also, make sure MAJOR aspects of the day (snack, lunch, bathrooms, nap, etc.) occur at the same time daily. These are known as the children’s daily staples!
Should I be following a routine similar to school’s at home?
How can we put this gently…YES, YES and YES! Routines at home, especially when they mimic school schedules, are extremely beneficial to the progression of a child both academically and socially. When your child gets home, set up a schedule they can understand and grow to follow on their own. Here is an example:
4:00-4:45- Play with toys in bedroom
4:45-5:00- Light and healthy snack
5:00-5:05- Potty break
5:05-5:45- Clean-up toys in bedroom
5:45-6:30- Family dinner time
6:30-7:00- Do some reading with mommy or daddy
7:00-7:30- Bath time!
7:30-8:00- Get ready for bed
8:00PM- LIGHTS OUT
Within the schedule, your child will grow to understand the sequence of events in his or her schedule. Think this is too boring? Spice things up and trade playing with toys to coloring or once in a while, a TV show. However, keep the major components the same (snack, dinner, bath and bed!).