Have you ever wondered why so much emphasis is placed on preschool education? MH finds out why.
WORDS TEO KUAN YEE
From the time your little bub turns 18 months, it is time to consider enrolling him in a preschool. This is the perfect timing as, by age three, your child’s brain reaches about 80 per cent of growth according to child development experts. Not surprisingly, given that when children are young, their minds are like learning sponges, soaking up every new experience, every new word and new behaviour. For young children, school is all about having fun and acquiring social skills rather than academic achievements. A preschool education concocts a sense of self-confidence in junior, setting the stage for lifelong learning and equips him with a bag of essential life skills as he navigates through the labyrinth of life.
Here are eight major benefits that your child can look forward to when he embarks on his preschool learning journey.
1. Learning Social Skills
Immersed in a preschool setting where he mixes with other children, your child learns interpersonal and hones his communication skills to co-exist harmoniously with his peers. Successfully making friends helps build self-esteem in your child as he is comfortable in his own skin.
Teachers will inculcate acceptable social behaviour such as learning to share and patience such as taking turns with others – something which junior, if he is the only child, may not grasp without siblings at home.
Instances from a preschool environment include sharing a toy, waiting for his turn at a game, and waiting to get his teacher’s attention. Parents can volunteer their time in the school’s activities to enhance the bond between the child and school by sending signals to the child that schooling is important.
2. Building Emotional Intelligence
Mingling with his peers provides scenarios for your child to experience a repertoire of emotions and learning to regulate their emotions builds their EQ (emotional intelligence), an essential skill for becoming a happy and well-adjusted adult later on. By creating a social environment with clear expectations, early childhood education teachers help your child learn to manage themselves and manage their emotions. At home, you can reinforce the lessons learnt by becoming a role model for your child.
3. Developing Good Values
Schools provide scenarios within which kids will learn good work habits and the difference between right and wrong – this helps instil in them good behaviour, attitude and healthy habits such as manners, responsibility and respect for others. From the preschool activities, junior also learns teamwork and patience for others – this will impart important social skills and make work more enjoyable in future when he works with others. Through handling tasks in the classroom, junior also learns the need to focus and concentrate in order to complete any work assigned to him.
4. Maximising Potential
The preschool usually adopts learning themes which will pave the way for your child to explore the world around him and to ask questions which will pave the way for him to grasp concepts in science, math, literacy and aesthetic appreciation.
Preschool presents wonderful opportunities for children to grab every chance to discover new experiences and new environments, feeding their imaginative minds. It also trains them to listen closely, follow instructions, attend to tasks, co-operate with others and participate in group activities – important qualities that will put them in good stead for formal schooling.
5. Immersing in a Second Language
Most kids in Singapore are exposed to English at an early age but the same does not apply when it comes to opportunities to engage in their mother tongue unless the child’s family speaks multiple languages at home. In a preschool setting with the proper guidance of patient and experienced second language teachers, the child will be encouraged to explore a new language, gaining a leg up with his language capabilities and reading skills through classroom activities such as story-telling and learning new songs.
6. Boosting Confidence
Going to a preschool is your child’s first steps towards independence as he leaves the safety and security of a familiar home setting. Thrown into a bigger environment teeming with other kids, junior has to learn to fend for himself, for instance by learning to break out of his shell and speak up confidently to get what they want. This helps form his confidence and competence in speaking better – basic life skills which are essential for survival in a competitive workplace in the future.
Daily positive interactions with other children and teachers help build a healthy dose of self-esteem which will enable them to approach situations and deal with issues with confidence and a can-do attitude throughout their lives. Some preschools prep their students with show-and-tell presentations which train junior to have the confidence to speak up clearly in front of the class and answer questions from his peers.
Fun lessons such as speech and drama also encourage them to open up
and express themselves with confidence. Children with confidence
and self-esteem are better poised to explore their talents,
develop skills and pursue interests.
Learning journeys to the Science Centre, museum or to attend a play, are great learning experiences for junior to learn about science and the arts. Still, to build resilience in their kids, some preschools organise field trips to the jungle where the children learn to leave their comfort zones by walking in muddy trails during nature walks.
7. Embracing Diversity
Singapore is a cosmopolitan society and chances are, junior will have his first taste of meeting classmates from different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds in his preschool class. Learning to appreciate diversity at an early age will help them become more open-minded and receptive to the idea that every individual is different with unique cultural backgrounds or beliefs. This will help them to handle differences as he works with classmates on class projects as he enters primary school, and subsequently when he joins the workforce in future.
8. Honing Fine Motor Skills
The development of fine motor skills is essential for young children. Learning through touch and manipulation, children applying fine motor movements are using the small muscles in the hands, fingers and wrist. Strong fine motor skills are also necessary to equip children with the ability to hold a pencil and write properly. Be it holding a pencil, paintbrush or a pair of scissors, your child is applying the small muscles in his small hands to complete his task. Honing his fine motor skills help him gain competence using the small muscles in his hands. Fine motor skills can only be developed with continuous practice.
Writing, painting and a variety of art and craft activities in class will aid in the development of the little one’s fine motor skills. This can complement the worksheets for practice in the home environment which will ease junior into primary school where the child will need to write at a reasonable speed in order to be able to keep up with the lessons and complete his worksheets in time.