Preschool develops more than toddlers’ social skills
MANY PARENTS HAVE FOUND IT NECESSARY FOR THEIR KIDS TO ATTEND A PRESCHOOL BUT MANY OTHERS ENROLL THEIR KIDS STRAIGHT INTO KINDERGARTEN.
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.”