Although preschool education isn’t compulsory or part of the educational system in Singapore, most Singaporean parents still spend and willingly send their children to preschools, as a preschool education provides numerous benefits. For one, preschool education helps kids build confidence before their entry into mainstream schooling. For another, the lessons a child learns in preschool can boost their cognitive, emotional, and social development in ways that carry on beyond their early years. Children also pick up essential life skills when they attend preschool, such as sharing, compromising, and interacting with others—and it’s never too early to learn and apply such skills.
Perhaps you have a toddler of your own, and you’ve been wondering whether they’re ready to attend a preschool Ang Mo Kio parents trust. Your little one may have already started to demonstrate a love for learning and doing all sorts of activities with you. But are these things enough to signal readiness? To help with your assessment, below are several signs you may want to look out for to know if your little one is ready to attend preschool.
Your Child Can Handle Being Separated from You
Depending on the curriculum or program, your child will be away from you for at least a couple of hours if they attend preschool. Can they handle this separation well? If your child often cries or feels upset whenever you leave them with someone else, but readily adapts after a few minutes or when distracted, then it’s a sign that they’ll probably adjust to preschool life with less stress.
However, if your child seems to suffer from excessive distress or clings to you forcefully every time you leave the room or say goodbye, then it might be too soon for your little one to attend preschool. Instead of forcing them to go and endure the discomfort of severe separation anxiety, you may want to deal with the issue first. Otherwise, your child may associate preschool with stress and anxiety rather than fun and learning.
To help your child get ready for preschool, some things that you can do together are visit the campus, read picture books about going to school, or attend trial classes. These can help ease your child’s anxiety about this new journey and have them look forward to heading somewhere new.
They Can Understand and Follow Simple Instructions
Another sign that your child is ready to attend preschool is their ability to follow simple commands. If your child can understand and follow simple directions, such as “sit on the floor” or “clap your hands,” then they’ll most likely be ready for preschool since they can manage instructions given to them by their preschool teacher. Remember, following instructions is a necessary skill in preschool, and your child needs to know how to follow instructions so that they can participate in activities, complete tasks, and follow their teachers to achieve desired learning goals.
If your child still struggles with following basic instructions, maybe you can practice and develop this skill before enrolling them. You can use games to make the “lesson” more engaging. Here are a few examples of fun activities you can do to improve your child’s ability to follow instructions:
▪ Play “Simon Says.” Start with simple commands like “Simon says touch your nose,” then increase the difficulty level as you progress.
▪ Do the “Drawing Game.” Let your child draw an image by merely following your verbal instructions. For instance, you can ask them to draw a big circle and fill it with stars. Give a reward for every correct drawing to keep them interested in the activity.
▪ Try the “Robot Game.” Blindfold your child and place their favourite toy somewhere around the room. The game’s objective is to let your little one find the toy by listening well and following your instructions. For example, you can ask your child to take three steps forward, two steps to the right side, etc., until they can reach the toy.
They Can Communicate with Others
While your child doesn’t have to speak well or express themselves in complete sentences before entering preschool, they should be able to get their feelings and opinions across even with simple phrases combined with facial expressions, hand gestures, and actions. For instance, they should know how to tell an adult when they need to go to the toilet or if they feel sick or uncomfortable.
The ability to communicate with others is crucial across all levels of schooling. Ensure that your child can use their communication skills to interact with other children and adults in the preschool, or else they may feel isolated and frustrated.
They Get Along with Other Kids
Because your child will spend most of their time surrounded by children their age in preschool, it helps if they can play and get along well with other kids. This will allow them to have fun and make the preschool experience more enjoyable and meaningful to them.
On the flip side, if your child seems distant and uninterested in engaging with peers, find ways to develop their social skills to prepare them for preschool. You can schedule play dates, frequent kid-friendly cafés, or invite other kids over to your house regularly. All these will help your child learn to interact and communicate with other kids and develop friendly relationships.
They Have Basic Self-Care Skills
While you can’t expect your toddler to do many things on their own, they should be able to handle simple tasks like using the toilet, putting on and taking their shoes off, and eating by themselves before heading to preschool. Having self-care skills can help them gain confidence in their abilities and manage their preschool routine more comfortably.
If your child struggles in this area, you may need to train them to be more independent and self-sufficient before sending them to preschool. You can teach and encourage them to dress themselves, brush their teeth, use the toilet, and do everyday tasks by themselves. Be patient during the process, as every child develops at their own pace.
Does your child exhibit the signs above? If so, chances are, they’re ready to embark on their preschool journey. But if your little one is still lacking in some areas, don’t be discouraged. Now that you know what skills they need to develop in order to prepare for preschool, you can help your child practice and work on these skills at home. Play pretend school, give them more responsibilities, encourage them to socialise with other kids in your area, or do many other things that can help them become independent, patient, and adaptable, and before you know it, they’ll be prepared to go about their day in an exciting new learning environment.