Your Baby & Toddler - - The Dossier Back To School -

While there is no ab­so­lute right age to be­gin preschool, Wilma points out that “early learn­ing ex­perts be­lieve many chil­dren are ready by around the age of three for greater chal­lenges than most home­based sit­u­a­tions can pro­vide”.

Montes­sori schools tra­di­tion­ally be­gin at age three, says Ni­co­lette, but many of­fer in­fant and tod­dler pro­grammes from as early as 18 months. Other schools may of­fer places for two-year-olds. When to start all de­pends on your child and on the stim­u­la­tion she gets at home. “A busy, in­quis­i­tive child may need to be­gin school ear­lier,” she ex­plains. “Preschool is of­ten a much sounder op­tion than in­ad­e­quate home care.”

Ni­co­lette says signs that your child may be ready to try preschool – even if she is not yet three – in­clude a cu­rios­ity in the greater world and an in­ter­est in other chil­dren. She adds that chil­dren with a “sound at­tach­ment to pri­mary care­givers, which has made the child happy and con­fi­dent, are likely to be ready to de­tach com­fort­ably”.

Wilma notes that for some chil­dren the tran­si­tion from home to preschool is easy and joy­ful, for oth­ers it may take longer to set­tle in, while some may not be quite ready yet. “If a child frets for longer than two weeks, it may be wise to de­lay the sep­a­ra­tion just a lit­tle longer,” she ad­vises. “In­creased cry­ing, bed­wet­ting when dry­ness has been es­tab­lished and clingy be­hav­iour where pre­vi­ously there was none are red flags that should be dis­cussed with the early learn­ing cen­tre staff,” she adds. YB

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