When is your Toddler Ready for Preschool?
There are no hard and fast rules to deciding when your toddler is ready for preschool. Each child is unique and each child will learn things at a different rate.
The great news is that kids who pick up slower are likely just late bloomers. Albert Einstein didn’t talk till he was five and Winston Churchill was a sub-par student through most of his scholastic career. The trap you shouldn’t fall into is using other kids as a benchmark for your child.
Uniqueness of the individual
From my own experience, I know my son was a precocious toddler but has since grown into a child who has to be nagged to do homework and who brings home less than stellar grades. Whereas my daughter didn’t show any potential early, but has been at the top of her class for the last five years.
Both of my kids are widely considered intelligent people, and those who know both my son and daughter regard them as having comparable intellect. The bottom line is that you can’t put people in boxes, and the right age to put your child in preschool depends on a variety of things.
Two General Schools of Thought
There are two general schools of thought on the question of whether preschool is even a good idea at all. There are those who say that in today’s competitive world, preschool is essential to giving your kids a head start versus their future rivals.
And there are also those who say children need to enjoy their childhood, and that introducing structured learning too early will only make children tire of it sooner.
My wife makes cracks about that being the case with my son, but there may be some truth to it.
More Play than School
I’ve always held the view that the primary importance of preschool is not to get a jump on academics, but to expose children to other people early on. I arrogantly thought this was a pretty unique idea till we started looking for a preschool for our youngest daughter.
There are still a number of preschools out there who sell the notion of the head start, but surprisingly I have found that a lot of preschools are now quite akin to daycare centers where the emphasis is on interaction and play. There is extra effort is taken to ensure that learning is fun and that it at least doesn’t feel too structured for the kids.
This addresses the concerns of both these extreme positions.
What’s Best for Your Child
So what about your child then? What is best for your child?
Let’s face it, your logistical reality will probably determine whether or not you send your kid to preschool. It may even determine what preschool you send your child to. That being said, in my opinion, it’s a matter of when your child is ready for his or her world to expand.
If your child is bored at home, tired of daycare, or you don’t have any neighbors or family with playmates, then the time is probably right to send him or her to preschool. In the end, the best rule is to base your decision on what you are getting from your child, rather than what anybody else tells you to do.