Congratulations! Your cute toddler can now talk, recognise some letters and count from 1 to 5. And you may be wondering, should you enrol him in school? Well this post will try to answer your question: What is the best age for children to start school?
Before we get to the ultimate question, let’s define first what “school” means concerning very young children.
As you may have read and heard, there are so many terms for schools when it comes to really young children, and most of the time they are interchangeable.
Schools for Young Children Defined:
- Day Care – a facility where care and supervision for children is provided. Usually there’s no academic structure. The primary goal is to oversee and care for children during daytime.
- Preschool – (according to Wikipedia) is also known as nursery school, pre-primary, play school or kindergarten, is an educational establishment or learning space offering early childhood education at primary school.
- Pre-K (Pre-Kindergarten) – 4 to 5 years old. A program offered where it’s usually play-based. Academic or formal education is not the main goal, rather to prepare the children socially, mentally and physically to future education system.
- Kindergarten – 5 to 6 years old. Still play-based (usually) but with more emphasis on basic academic learning such as knowing the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, sizes and the like. It is commonly referred to as the first stage of formal education.
Which School Is The Right Fit For Your Child?
Based on the definitions above, your choices are either a day care or a preschool.
What’s the difference?
Basically, if your purpose is just to have a place for your child to be in at a certain time of day, then a day care facility is the best bet for your child.
Day cares are open to young children ages 0 to 5 years old, or even beyond. So as long as your child is not of school age (meaning 7 and above) then you can enrol him in a day care centre.
** Some day care facilities accept older children. Schedule for them are usually after school
However, if you want a more structured environment for your child, where he can be introduced to basic academic learnings, then preschool is the way to go.
When you enrol in a preschool, your child may be grouped with children according to his age or abilities depending on the preschool’s criteria which may vary significantly.
The Ultimate Question: What is the best age for children to start school?
To answer this, we must first discuss the following:
- Do you have enough time for your child?
- Do you provide varied fun and educational activities to occupy your child?
- Is your child well socialized? Or his interaction mainly or limited to family members?
- Is your child potty-trained?
- Can your child already talk?
QUALITY TIME IS A MUST
If you spend quality time with your little one and you are both actively doing something together, then I don’t see any reason why you have to spend your child to school early.
The key phrase here is actively doing something together. And nope, playing with gadgets side by side is not counted!
Think doing arts and crafts together, going on a nature walk, storytelling, pretend playing, cooking and baking together.
These are ideal activities that you can do with your precious child. If you’re doing most or all of them, then I would say you can hold off enrolling him to school.
However, if you are not doing any of these activities with your child and you physically can’t be there (for so many valid reasons) then I suggest sending your child to a day care or preschool.
If gadgets and television are the only entertainment and exposure that your child get then the more that I recommend enrolling him early.
It has already been proven that too much screen time is bad for your child.
The good news is, it’s never too late to change your child’s routine so he can have a more productive day.
Here are some tips that you can do right now to veer your child off screen time:
- Organize your child’s toys and rotate them so he would always be excited to play with them
- Prepare art and craft materials that your child can work with
- Plan different fun and educational activities in replacement of screen time
SOCIALIZATION IS IMPORTANT
Socialization is another basic skill that your child needs to develop. If you think that your child is not getting enough time to socialise with others then maybe you can think about enrolling him to school.
I’m sure your child will learn a lot and improve his social skills in no time in the company of other children.
Then again, play dates at the playground or park can also do the trick.
POTTY TRAIN FIRST
As much as possible, your child should be potty-trained before attending school.
He should be able to tell when he needs to go to the toilet and clean after himself.
I say this for your child’s protection.
Unfortunately, there have been cases fo abuse in children and a number of them involved using the toilet. So to lessen the chances of this happening to your child, better get him potty-trained.
TALKING IS VITAL
Another thing that I would like to point out before you enrol your child to school is- Can your child already talk? Or at least communicate with you if something happened?
Again, this is a safety issue that I would like to emphasise.
It would be great if your child can talk about his needs, wants, frustrations, fears, complaints, etc… This way you would still have an idea what’s happening to him even when he’s away from you.
And if there’s an arising issue or problem, you can snip at the bud.
THE ULTIMATE ANSWER: THE BEST AGE FOR CHILDREN TO START SCHOOL
What is the best age for children to start school? Personally, I would say 5 years old.
This is of course given that all conditions are ideal:
- You spend quality time with your child
- Your child is exposed to fun and educational activities
- He is well socialised and displays age-appropriate social skills
- Learning materials (even improvised ones) are readily available
WHY FIVE YEARS OLD?
Five years old is around that time when your child is already displaying natural curiosity to learn and you may or may not have the capacity or resources to deliver at home.
By this age, your child is also most likely to be potty-trained and talk, so safety issues are mostly covered.
In addition, Pre-K and Kindergarten schools operate around this age (4,5,6.) And it’s at this grade level that they start formal education.
I advocate that children stay at home and learn at home as long as they can. Mostly because I believe quality time with their loved ones is more important than being able to read early or do addition before their peers do.
As adults, we must build a strong foundation for our children. Make sure that they are well-loved, they understand the value of respect, discipline and persistence, and that they know or at least have an understanding of what’s morally right or wrong.
It’s tough. I know. But I think this world needs more humans who are capable of love than people who can do mental math in a second yet so entitled.
Do you agree that five years old is the best age for children to go to school?
Do drop your comment below. I would love to hear your insights.
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