Right age to move your child from a preschool to a K-12 school.

This is the one of the biggest dilemma parents face; not getting your child enrolled in your choice of K-12 school can be upsetting, but not necessarily bad. The question is whether parents should consciously choose preschool over a K-12 school at least during the formative years (0-6 years). Here are my thoughts on the subject.

 

What if, you unnaturally acquired a super power? What would you do with it? No, this is not you in a cape flying off to save Metropolis or Gotham. But imagine if had the power to crank up your brain to your maximum capacity. Wouldn’t it be cool to learn complicated symbols and associated meanings, like Robert Langdon or speak as many languages like Ms Missandei from GOT. Sounds thrilling, right? Now, what if I tell you that all of us had that power, naturally.

 

This is the superpower children have till the time they’re 5 to 6 years of age. Studies show that the first five years of life are the most important in a child’s life. These are the years of formation, where children pick up things much faster compared to any other phase in life. Ever wondered why your child can speak in 2-3 different languages, (I’m assuming) in English with you, native with your parents and support staff. This is because by age 2 or 3 they have more than twice as many synaptic connections than adults. In early stages of development, a child’s brain showcases more plasticity and ability to absorb – hence your child can pick up any language much faster than you. It’s not just languages, their love for learning and how they would view learning for the rest of their lives, is also formed during this age.

 

One cannot emphasize enough about the need to ensure that they hone these powers and acquire as much as they can. A lot of parents come to me with the question of “pre-school vs. a K-12 school” and the only response I ever give is that, this is the stage in their life, when children should be free and should explore their surroundings in the carefree manner. While a reputed K-12 school will have great infrastructure, and add accolades to your social status, you must also be wary of the fact that probably your child doesn’t need to be huddled up with another 25-30 children in one classroom. And don’t get me wrong – K-12s are only following what they are supposed to, as even they are victims of old norms and institutionalized thought processes and approach towards early child care.

 

Not to generalize all parents or all schools, but what I am trying to emphasize is the need for a personalized curriculum for children at this age. They need the ability to be free and understand the world at their pace and that’s where an independent pre-school comes as a savior. A good pre-school will have their own way of interacting with your child’s inquisitiveness and they are more likely to be able to meander from the set path, to give your child that space and freedom that she needs.

To quote an article I recently read on Psychology Today.
“Schools are for showing off, not for learning.  When we enrol our children in school, we enrol them into a never-ending series of contests—to see who is best, who can get the highest grades, the highest scores on standardized tests, win the most honours, make it into the most advanced placement classes, get into the best colleges.  We see those grades and hoops jumped through as measures not only of our children, but also of ourselves as parents.  We find ways, subtly or not so subtly, to brag about them to our friends and relatives.”

 

I understand parents who come with the worry that schools won’t enroll their children later unless they’re enrolled with the school from pre-nursery itself. However, what you need to focus more about is the individualized and holistic attention that s(he) will receive in pre-school like Safari Kid. I know sometimes it difficult to bypass the system, but more schools are now ready to enroll children, say when they are ready, for KG and 1st grade then before.

Good pre-schools are more likely to have a healthy teacher to student ratio, resulting in a one-on-one attention for your child where the facilitator can address concepts, meanings in a personalized manner. The purpose built facilities at preschools are made to cater to children of that age-group, whereas in a K-12 school its more likely a generic environment that accommodates students of all age groups. Similarly, K-12 schools are likely to follow curriculums that are more focused towards different boards, this not only pushes the focus away from the overall development to a goal oriented approach, one that focuses on clearing that particular board with higher grades, neglecting the age specific needs of children. 

So what’s the choice? Can any parent neglect K-12 schools? Obviously No. Then can parents delay enrolling to a K-12 school and let their child spend more time at a preschool? Well the choice is yours.