Preschool de­vel­ops more than tod­dlers’ so­cial skills


The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Education -

Win­dah Sa­pu­tro had been search­ing for the right school from the time her son, Ab­hi­rama, was only one-and-a-half years old.

The lack of peers to go on play dates with around their res­i­den­tial area was the main rea­son why this stay-at-home mom de­cided to look for school that early. Both mother and son had gone to count­less tri­als for dif­fer­ent preschools in Jakarta and Tangerang un­til they fi­nally set­tled on one a year later. Abhi is ready to of­fi­cially en­roll in preschool this up­com­ing school year. Why so many? “I wanted to en­roll Abhi in a school we both were com­fort­able with. So I browsed and de­ter­mined the stan­dards of the preschool I wanted and started to go to tri­als. I even went to ed­u­ca­tion fairs to look for a preschool. Don’t en­roll your child in a school just be­cause ev­ery­one else is go­ing there,” Win­dah said.

Preschool has be­come more of a ne­ces­sity these days.

Ac­cord­ing to data re­leased by the Cen­ter for Ed­u­ca­tional Data and Sta­tis­tics in 2014, around 16 per­cent of kinder­garten stu­dents in Jakarta are younger than 4 years old. As par­ents are ea­ger for their chil­dren to start school, they look for an al­ter­na­tive. As a re­sult, over 87,000 chil­dren aged 2-4 in Jakarta en­tered preschool in 2014.

Psy­chol­o­gist Saskhya Au­lia Prima, M.Psi said that for younger kids who are ready for school, it’s much bet­ter for them to start with preschool rather than push­ing them into kinder­garten too early.

“Preschool can be a good start for chil­dren to be in­de­pen­dent be­cause in kinder­garten they are usu­ally ex­pected to do ev­ery­thing by them­selves and par­ents or other guardians can’t stay in the class­room any­more. Preschool can fa­cil­i­tate that adap­ta­tion process,” she ex­plained, adding that early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion might be ben­e­fi­cial for younger chil­dren, es­pe­cially for those who were more shy and re­served com­pared to their peers. But she en­cour­aged par­ents to look into each child’s per­son­al­ity be­fore de­cid­ing to en­roll.

The key is re­al­iz­ing that each child is unique and not com­par­ing them with one an­other. “Ev­ery child is ready at their own pace. So par­ents should match their ex­pec­ta­tions ac­cord­ingly. Push­ing them to be too com­pet­i­tive at such a young age may lead to learn­ing de-mo­ti­va­tion in the long run.” she ad­vised.

To know whether your child is ready, you can see if he can sit still for five to 10 min­utes or can con­cen­trate on do­ing some­thing.

In de­cid­ing the right preschool for her son, Win­dah took teach­ers, cur­ricu­lum and dis­tance into con­sid­er­a­tion. “We want some­thing that’s not too far from where my hus­band works or from our home. I also looked for a preschool that used In­done­sian as its first lan­guage.”

Just like Win­dah, at first Echa Riza en­rolled Raffi, her two-and-a-half-year-old son, in preschool due to a lack of peers. But as time goes on, preschool pro­vides more than just so­cial skills. “My son has also be­come more cre­ative and full of ideas. We also bring home the lessons and do them to­gether. My hus­band and I aren’t clue­less any­more about what kind of stim­u­la­tion we should give to Raffi. We’re re­minded to teach Raffi to pray be­fore study­ing and eat­ing. I also feel that his lan­guage skills in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly through preschool.”

Raffi first en­tered school when he was eight months old and Echa said he was ex­cited about the new en­vi­ron­ment. “It was a baby crawl­ing school so moth­ers ac­com­pa­nied their chil­dren inside. But when Raffi turned two, he went into the class­room alone. I was wait­ing and won­der­ing why he didn’t look for me. Ap­par­ently he had fun,” she re­called with a laugh.

Ide­ally, preschool should be about play­ing and not about chas­ing af­ter awards and rank. In preschool, chil­dren usu­ally learn con­cepts like shapes and com­par­isons. Saskhya rec­om­mended that par­ents look for a school that of­fers plenty of out­door and play time be­cause young chil­dren still have the need to move around a lot. Classes should also be small in size, a max­i­mum of 15 stu­dents with two teach­ers.

How­ever, preschool isn’t part of manda­tory ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren and many par­ents de­cide to skip it, en­rolling their kids straight into kinder­garten. “I don’t think I can teach ev­ery­thing but I don’t want Abhi to miss a les­son. If he’s in preschool, there are teach­ers who can cover what I can’t,” said Win­dah. Saskhya agreed, preschool is about fill­ing in the blanks, teach­ing chil­dren what par­ents can’t pro­vide.

Just like Echa put it, as she brought Raffi to a crawl­ing school years back, “even though I be­lieve that home is where ed­u­ca­tion starts, en­vi­ron­ment is also an im­por­tant fac­tor for chil­dren’s devel­op­ment.”

Photos courtesy of Tu­tor Time

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