Every now and then I get emails from fellow moms asking me tips on party planning, party planners and suppliers as well as stores I recommend for buying baby supplies. I would always answer these emails but one mom sent me a question which I feel can best be answered by the collective cool moms out there. Also, I realized that a lot of this blog’s readers might also learn a thing or two not just from the email but more importantly from the answers you guys have always readily and willingly shared.
Mommy J is asking, how would you know if your kid is ready for preschool and how did you prepare your kid for preschool?
Thank you Mommy J for allowing me to post your email!
Hi Mommy Neva!I’m J, mother of a 16-month old toddler and a follower of your blog. 🙂Recently, I’ve started doing some research on which school will I send my boy to when the time comes. I didn’t know that there are a lot of choices now (traditional vs progressive) and it’s so overwhelming! To add, para akong maloloka when some of the school personnel I’ve spoken with over the phone are already asking me if my boy already knows how to differentiate the colors, shapes, numbers and if he can already talk. You see, at 16 months, he still doesn’t talk a lot. He’ll only say Mama, Papa, Ba (his word for bird and for calling other people), Ta (tara), shs (shoes), wsh wsh (signalling us that he wants to pee or poop) when he feels like saying it. If you ask him to say mama or papa, he just ignore us and proceed to point to us where he wants to go. So you see, my fear that I’ve been lacking in this area of teaching my son all came up. So, I was wondering how did you prepare your little boy for school? How old was he when he started school?I hope you can share with me your experience on how did you prepare your little one for school.Sincerely,J
Hi Mommy J!
Thanks so much for the email and for the kind words 🙂 I won’t pretend that I know all the answers but I will tell you that I was in your position last year. Honestly, the moment I realized that DW has memorized slogans from noontime shows was the moment I started thinking about sending him to an environment where his capacity to absorb information would be directed at something more constructive. Because really, ano bang life skills ang matuturo ng Happy Yipee Yehey at Showtime? Although it was fun hearing DW say “Parteh! Parteh!”, that amusement was short-lived.
I also talked to my mom who was DW’s primary caretaker while me and BDW are at the office if she feels that DW is ready too. Together we all sought signs of DW’s “readiness”. The list below is based on our experience and is therefore not fool-proof but I hope Mommy J that this would also help you determine if your babe is ready. We didn’t really do any prep work for DW prior to preschool. We never consciously taught him how to read and write nor pressured him to speak in full sentences. Kids develop differently and to compare your kid’s milestones with another will only stress you out. I’ll answer your question by listing the signs which led us to believe that DW could be ready for preschool and I hope that you find this list helpful. Also, DW was 2 years and 6 months when he entered preschool.
1) Communication skills – By the time DW was two he could already speak in basic sentences and he could say his complete name already. He learned to speak early and had a fair grasp of basic and common English and Filipino words. When he was tested for readiness by the preschool he was able to name a lot of vegetables, naming Broccoli as his favorite (he could also sing Bahay Kubo then).
This was the most important for me because I wanted DW to be able to articulate what happened to him in school. In other words, gusto ko syang makapagsumbong when something bad happened to him. It’s the pessimist in me I know but it gave me peace of mind knowing that DW could say what he wants and doesn’t want to his teachers and classmates. True enough, DW’s teachers have told us that he would always tell stories about the folks at home, the places where he’s been among other things while in class!
I have to say that talking to DW like an adult helped a lot in this area and also we always talked to DW too. Even when we’re in the car stuck in traffic, I would talk to him about the cars on the road, the trees, the clouds, the traffic, what the MMDA does, what’s dada doing, what he should be doing, what we could be doing if we weren’t stuck in traffic. I would ask DW too like what he was thinking (seriously) and what he wants to do. He picked up fast and he talks like a grown-up now. Daldal din, wonder where he got that 😛
2) Interaction with Other Kids – Some would say that being able to interact with other kids is also a gauge of readiness but to us, it was the lack thereof that made us think about sending DW to school. DW is the only kid at our house and the only playmate he has is our neighbor who’s the same age as him but their playdates are not that frequent. Every Sunday we would go to my in-laws and DW would play with his cousins. We had Kindermusik every Saturday too but that was just an hour of being around other children. The interaction with kids is therefore few and far between and it’s this fact that made us want DW to be in school. He loves being around other kids too and we would see how his face would light up when he has playmates. We also wanted him to be with other kids because he is also turning into a little manong whose sentences are peppered with Hay Naku and Ano Ba Yan?! The dude needs to lighten up.
3) Ability to Follow Instructions – DW can already follow instructions when we entered pre-school. He was comfortable with receiving instructions as well as with transitions. I credit Kindermusik for this. DW became familiar with the concept of a class, a teacher and activities/chores (kids are always asked to pack away, to share, to pass around toys etc). It was a routine that he knew very well. DW’s teachers have always told us how good DW is with following instructions. I still sing the pack-away song to DW from time to time and we still sing songs from the class. Some of DW’s favorite storybooks are from the take-home packs from all of our Kindermusik classes. Of course, enrolling your kid in Kindermusik is not enough because follow-through is important (and this is emphasized in KM too). Maybe Mommy J you could start with basic instructions for your babe like passing the ball to you or packing away his toys and build on that.
4) Separation Anxiety – DW had a hard time in the first two months of school. He would cry every time his Lola would drop him off. His teachers assured us that this was normal. It was great that DW’s class was small and that he had two teachers. One teacher would be with DW to comfort him and reassure him that Lola would be back while the other teacher would be with the other kids. The “ate” too also helped out with easing DW’s anxiety. His teachers assured us that this was normal and first time parents were given reading materials about dealing with separation anxiety. What’s important is the constant reassurance that you will be back for your kid. Nowadays, as soon as DW is dropped off at school, he makes a mad dash to his classroom, wala man lang goodbye kay Lola. Of course, iba na pag si mommy ang may separation anxiety 😛 I guess Mommy J you have to assess if your baby is ready to be away from you and vice-versa. You could probably ask the schools you are interested in on their policies with dealing with kids who have meltdowns every time their sundo says goodbye and see if you’re comfortable with their ways.
5) Your Reason – Ask yourself Mommy J why you feel that your baby needs to be in pre-school and go from there. I asked myself if DW is still too young to attend. He’s actually the youngest in his class when he enrolled at 2 years and 6 months but we all decided to give it a try. It was a joint decision and we were also ready for the eventuality that it might now work out for now. Personally, I wanted DW to be with other kids and to be in a structured environment where he can be creative and learn new things . Time is a luxury for full-time working parents like me and BDW and as much as we devote our evenings reading to and playing with our little boy, I feel that it’s not enough and that he’s not getting everything that he needs to know. Now, I’m happy that I am the supplement to DW’s pre-school, that me and BDW are here to follow through with what DW is learning at Books and Blocks.
Don’t worry Mommy J about the progressive and traditional schools for now. What matters most is if your child is flourishing in your chosen school. You may want to try enrolling your kid in Kindermusik or Gymboree first and figure out if maybe that’s all your kid needs right now. Both programs have trial classes so go ahead and see which is a better fit for your baby 🙂
A good tip: Should you go ahead with preschool, pay tuition fees quarterly. This is what we did so that we were prepared to pull DW out of school if the whole thing didn’t work out.
I hope my list is helpful Mommy J!! How about you dear readers? What tips could you share with Mommy J?
Thanks again Mommy J for trusting me with your letter and thanks in advance guys for your insights on Mommy J’s dilemma 🙂 Fire away at the comments box below!