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Two weeks ago, as I waited with a friend in a crowded courthouse, we both gawked at a woman showing flash cards to her tot. One side of the card had pictures, the other side the actual word spelled out. The kid in the stroller couldn't have been more than 2, and we marveled at the rush to develop reading skills. Could a child so young be ready?
"Children are capable of learning at such an early age," notes author Anna Jane Hays, who explores readiness for school in her books Ready, Set, Preschool (2005) and Kindergarten Countdown (2007). She is not alone in her thinking. Study results indicate that attending preschool not only influences a child's developing mind, it can set the pace for his or her success in subsequent school experiences.
Is it the right time to enroll your child?
Parents encourage learning early on - with playgroups, videos, and programs like Baby Einstein - and most nursery programs accept kids at age 2 ½. However, is there an ideal time/age for beginning preschool?
"For some kids there may be a right time, but for the most part it's about getting your child to the right point," noted Nadia Ali-hung, Director of a Manhattan branch of Tutor Time (a nationwide preschool company with more than 75 locations). "Your child has to be ready to be with other kids, and to deal with a larger social environment," she added.
According to experts, children who are ready for the preschool experience should:
Talk it over and gear up together
Another way of being sure your child is ready for preschool is to explore the school concept together. How does your child react when you talk about going to school? Has he/she visited schools with you? Have you taken short (one-hour) Mom and Me classes at a studio or the public library? Did you share books (such as Vera's First Day of School, which explores kids' mixed feelings about starting school) on the subject? By including the child in your preschool plans, it will ease his or her transition.
As you consider enrolling your child in a nursery or preschool class, decide if your child is ready and what it may take to get him or her ready. Then once your child starts preschool, you'll be able to go off to your errands, enjoy your free time, and truly relax.
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