READY FOR PRESCHOOL?
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