What Type of Preschool: Earlier Isn’t Always Better

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Preschools in Malaysia, mostly private, begin accepting children as early as when they’re 2 and a half. Some are already offering academic-oriented curriculum. They teach academic skills to these little children. Some are even already testing them on such skills

Studies show that almost 1 in 4 children will experience depression before they’re 19 years old. Symptoms of depression in children often include sadness or a low mood that doesn’t go away, among others. In the case of early preschoolers, they’re likely to get depressed when they failed to meet their teachers’ or their parents’ academic expectation.

The earlier isn’t always better. The earlier is better notion may or may not work in other aspects of our lives, it certainly wasn’t meant to be used to conceptualise early childhood education. There is yet strong scientific evidence to support such a notion.

What you’re much less likely to hear is the truth about what actually happens to your kids if prodded to complete tasks before they’re developmentally ready. As noted early childhood expert Jane Healy once told me, “When you start something before the brain is ready, you’ve got trouble.” Among the possibilities for trouble are enormous stress and even depression. Today, depression among children is at an all-time high” – Rae Pica, an education consultant specialising in the education of the whole child, children’s physical activity, and the mind/body connection since 1980.

When children who aren’t cognitively, emotionally, and physically ready are forced to enrol into a preschool early before their time; one that’s typically not in tune with their learning needs, it can result in them feeling inadequate, anxious and confused

Each child’s trajectory is uniquely different. They develop at different rates. Children learn best when they are engaged in such activities that are geared towards their developmental levels, prior experiences and current needs. If parents still insisted on enrolling their child into a preschool early, choose one that perhaps offers play-based curriculum.

Studies continue to reveal that children placed in a play-based preschool are more likely to perform significantly better than those children from direct-instruction preschool. Children who learned mostly through play in their early formative years made significantly greater gains academically, socially and emotionally as compared to students in classes with a more academic focus.

Childhood is not a dress rehearsal for adulthood, nor is it a race. It is a separate, unique, and very special phase of life. And I’m afraid that we’re essentially wiping it out of existence due to a misguided belief that earlier is better” – Rae Pica.


  1. Early Academic Training Produces Long-Term Harm. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/freedom-learn/201505/early-academic-training-produces-long-term-harm.
  2. RaePica, Pica, R., & Pica, R. (n.d.). Why earlier doesn’t equal better for young kids. Retrieved from http://www.parenttoolkit.com/academics/news/general-parenting/debunking-the-belief-that-earlier-is-better.
  3. Carlsson-Paige, N., McLaughlin, G. B., & Almon, J. W. (2015). Reading instruction in kindergarten: Little to gain and much to lose [Alliance for Childhood, Defending the Early Years (DEY) report].
  4. Bakken, L., Brown, N., & Downing, B. (2017). Early childhood education: The long-term benefits. Journal of research in Childhood Education31(2), 255-269.
  5. Robertson, N., Morrissey, & Rouse, E. (2018, November 26). Play-based learning can set your child up for success at school and beyond. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/play-based-learning-can-set-your-child-up-for-success-at-school-and-beyond-91393.
  6. Depression in children and teenagers. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/children-depressed-signs/.
Our editorial team is committed to producing the highest quality content. Our published articles are written based on evidence-based information; taken from the leading, credible sources parents can rely on.

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