‘Play is the highest form of research”- Albert Einstein.
Kids are sent to kindergarten to learn to become socially interactive and learn how to learn new things in life. A kindergarten is a pre-school educational approach traditionally based on playing, singing, practical activities such as drawing, and social interaction as part of the transition from home to school (Source: Wikipedia).
In India, the right age to start pre-school or kindergarten is not defined. The government has made a rule for the correct age to admit kid in 1st standard. According to the rule, a kid should be minimum 6 years when they reach 1st standard. Most play school have classes like play group, nursery, junior kg(kindergarten) and senior kg. After this, the kids move to 1st standard for primary education. So following this classroom pattern, 4-4.5 years can be an appropriate age to start kindergarten. First two classes (play group and nursery) are more to do with preparing them for further classes and personality development – we can say they are like activity time.
Here are some pointers that can help in deciding is the kid ready to leave home comfort and start kindergarten:
- Getting along with other kids: One needs to check, does the child likes to share his toys and play in a group with other kids. Performing as a team with others by taking turns is also an important virtue which the kid needs to develop not only now but for a lifetime.
- Listening to instructions: All kids love to run around and have fun. Children are like that, but they should understand when a teacher or any elder asks them to sit down for a small story session or play a game or any other group activity which needs them to sit and listen.
- Using the restroom: The kid should be able to indicate when she needs to use the washroom. They should ideally use the washroom on their own, but there is always nanny available to help.
- Language skills: Children should have a vocabulary developed enough to communicate their needs and feelings with their teachers and other caretakers at school.
- Developed motor skills: Walking, running, jumping, holding a pencil to write with, using scissors to cut paper are the basic skills that a child needs to be comfortable with.
- Basic letter and number awareness: It’s expected that the kid should be aware and recognize some letters and numbers.
- Enthusiastic and interested in learning new things: The kid need not be a nerd, but should have an interest in discovering new things. The child should be curious to hear stories, learn new things and try them multiple times.
Some parents live in nuclear families and want to start their professional lives soon post baby birth, so they opt early admission to pre-school. I feel this is unjust; the child’s preparedness should be the priority to anything else. One can keep kids with full-time nannies or daycare centers. These places have enough activities to start the development of the kid. Kindergarten should be started when the kid is prepared according to parents, in consultation with a pre-school teacher, as these people are the best judge for it.
These are generic traits that can help a parent decide, but we shouldn’t forget that each child is unique and special in their own way. One kid may show signs of readiness for school before and some may take a bit longer. Kids should never be pressurized by comparison and peer pressure at any age. It not only kills their talents, by trying to be someone else but also makes them timid and weak. Understanding the child and her needs and working accordingly will only help in shaping their bright future.