The Right Preschool
Finding the right preschool for your child can be daunting. Too many considerations to take into account; too many preschools to choose from. Before long, you’re overwhelmed by choices and information you can’t even begin where to start. In this article, you’ll find tips to help you decide what’s best for you, and, above all, what’s best for your child.
The Ideal Age
Many if not most preschools in Malaysia begin accepting children at around 2 ½. That doesn’t mean your child is ready when s/he reaches such age. Preschool readiness has more to do where your child is emotionally and developmentally. Here are some key indicators that can help you decide if your child is ready to take that first step into classrooms.
- Is your child independent?
- Can your child spend time away from you?
- Can your child work on something on his own?
- Can s/he participate in group activities? Is s/he mentally and physically ready to abide by pre-schooling hours?
- Why do you want her/him to go to preschool in the first place?
A child shall be considered ready if s/he meets all of those criteria above. Otherwise, don’t. Do not buy into the false notion that the earlier is better. The earlier isn’t always better. Let kids be kids. There’s no benefit to early academics. Lilian G. Katz, professor emerita of early childhood education at the University of Illinois writes;
“The common-sense notion that “earlier is better” is not supported by longitudinal studies of the long-term effects of different kinds of preschool curriculum models. On the contrary, a number of longitudinal follow-up studies indicate that while formal instruction produces good test results in the short term, preschool curriculum and teaching methods emphasizing children’s interactive roles and providing frequent opportunities for them to exercise initiative, while not so impressive in the short term, yield better school participation and achievement in the long term.”
Read full text of the paper HERE
What Is Preschool
Preschool, kindergarten or Tadika and Tabika in Bahasa, is a place of learning that offers Early Childhood Education for young children aged between 2 to 6 years before entering Year One. What comes before preschool is nursery or Taska in Bahasa.
How Much Does Preschool Cost
There are government preschools. And there are private preschools. Tabika Kemas and Tabika Perpaduan are government preschools. Monthly fees for government preschools are almost wholly subsidised by the government in which parents pay not more than RM100 a month. Private preschools are owned by private organisations. Their fees can range from RM400 to RM2000, depending on its location, as well as the type of preschool you’re considering to send your child to.
Is Preschool Important
Preschool education may be the most important phase of education of all. You can read studies about it HERE, HERE and HERE. Yes, pre-schooling years are important, provided that such preschools are staffed by highly qualified and well-trained teachers. What your child learns in preschool has a direct effect on the adult s/he will become.
How To Choose A Preschool
In choosing a preschool for your child, emakayah.com recommends paying attention to these three (3) crucial aspects
- Begin by considering your family’s needs and budget. Ask yourself these questions;
- Do you need a full-day programme or a half-day programme?
- Would your child be comfortable in a centre or a small home setting?
After narrowing down several that fit your budget and needs; call, enquire and schedule an appointment. Inform the principal you want to schedule a tour. During your visit, talk to the principal and their teaching staff. Observe closely to see if they meet all the criteria in Point 2, below.
2. Consider a preschool based on whom the preschool has hired to teach your child – the quality of their teachers. Always. Are those teachers qualified? Don’t be easily convinced by “Our Teachers Have No Such Qualifications But They Are Very Passionate” argument. If these unqualified teachers are as passionate as they say, they should have endured the years of studying to obtain a teaching degree or two.
If the primary, secondary, and tertiary level of education are taught by qualified teachers with relevant teaching degrees, why can’t Early Childhood Education be treated the same way? You’re about to enrol a child who can’t even properly express their feelings with words, it’s therefore crucial that these teachers must be as qualified as they can be.
3. Does the preschool have a license? No? Do your child a favour, skip that preschool. Never consider a preschool that is not licensed. Period. Also, do not be easily impressed by how well-written and colourful their education philosophy is on their website nor what method of education is currently trending online until you have visited the preschool, talked to the principal and the teaching staff and observed the classrooms yourself.
Well-written educational philosophy does not guarantee quality teaching. Quality teachers deliver quality teaching. The educational philosophy is only as good as the teachers who are interpreting them into their teaching. In the end, it wasn’t well-designed philosophy that shapes your child’s experience, but the teachers, the environment and their well-thought-out policies.
What To Look For In A Preschool
- Teachers. What qualifications do the teachers have? Do they participate in ongoing training? Observe the teachers at work and learn how they interact with the kids. How do you feel about how they interacted with the kids?
- Curriculum. How holistic is the curriculum? Does it place too much importance on academics? Look for a curriculum that offers developmentally-appropriate play. Read this journal to understand why play is important in Early Childhood Education.
- The environment. Their classrooms. Are they bright and clean? Or, are they just too clean and perfect for a classroom? A normal classroom should look like small kids actually play there. Observe the environment from your child’s perspective. Would my child be okay being here? It’s very crucial that you do this. Your child is probably going to be at the preschool longer than the hours you spend being at the office working.
- Location. Is the preschool far from home that it takes you more than an hour to arrive? If you’re okay with it, and your child likes going to that one preschool, go for it. Do whatever feels right to you and what’s best for your child. As parents, we would go to the end of the earth for our children. This is just one example of it.
There’s no right or wrong answer. The best fit often depends upon how one defines the right preschool for one’s child. There are no perfect preschools either. But there are many awesome preschools out there that can be “just right” for your child. Keep on looking. Remember that it’s always a good idea to visit several preschools first.
Montgomery, N., Stewart, D. H., Ellis, C., Miles, K., Sullivan, D., & Montgomery, N. (n.d.). How to tell if your child is ready for preschool. Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-tell-if-your-child-is-ready-for-preschool_64544.bc.
(n.d.). Enrolling Government Pre-School. Retrieved from https://www.malaysia.gov.my/portal/subcategory/99.
Getting List of Government Preschool. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.malaysia.gov.my/portal/content/29443.
Importance of early childhood development. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/importance-early-childhood-development.
Defending the Early Years (DEY). (2019, October 3). Retrieved from https://dey.org/.
Ginsburg, K. R. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Pediatrics, 119(1), 182-191.
Katz, L. G. (2015). Lively minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children. Defending the Early Years.
TABIKA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.kemas.gov.my/tabika-/.
Barnett, W. (1995). Long-Term Effects of Early Childhood Programs on Cognitive and School Outcomes. The Future of Children,5(3), 25-50. doi:10.2307/1602366
Currie, J. (2001). Early childhood education programs. Journal of Economic perspectives, 15(2), 213-238.
Lenaerts, Vandenbroeck, Beblavý, & European Expert Network on Economics of Education. (2018, January 17). Benefits of early childhood education and care and the conditions for obtaining them. Retrieved from https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/14194adc-fc04-11e7-b8f5-01aa75ed71a1.