Playgroup is considered as a milestone for young children, especially if they have not been to infant care or parent-accompanied classes prior to starting school.
As with any big change, ample preparation is required for children who will be attending preschool in Singapore. What kind of feelings will the little ones experience?
Here’s a quick guide on what you can do to help them feel at ease at the start of their playgroup journey.
Playgroup Readiness Checklist
Is your child ready to attend playgroup?
Here are some factors that you can look at to assess your child’s readiness to attend playgroup classes in preschool.
Separation anxiety is when young children feel anxious upon parting with their main caregiver, often throwing tantrums, crying and refusing to let their main caregivers out of sight. Separation anxiety is a natural situation and should ease off when the child turns three or four years old. Crying at the start is perfectly normal, but if your child is crying for the entire duration of the class, he or she may not be prepared for a full day of school.
If your child has not been apart from you since birth, more effort may be required to prepare them for preschool in Singapore.
How does your child behave with other peers? Does he or she prefer to play alone?
From the ages of two to three years old, parallel play is common in children. This means that children prefer to play alongside each other, seemingly without interaction. However, this is a natural stage of play.
When the child reaches about three years old, they will be able to start socialising with other peers and participate in group play. Group play is interactive and children will get to learn social skills such as sharing and taking turns.
Coping with Changes
How does your child cope with changes to his or her regular routine?
Some children are naturally better at handling transitions. Most children, however, lack the capability to regulate their emotions. When they do not know what to expect, it is natural that they will feel afraid of the unknown and struggle to adapt.
How to help your child get used to playgroup or preschool in Singapore
In Singapore, children typically start their preschool journey any time from 18. As they are undergoing a huge transition in their lives, behavioural changes can be expected.
To help them settle in upon starting playgroup, here are some tips to tide you through.
1. Establish a routine
Developing a routine for drop-offs and pick-ups can give your child something to look forward to.
For example, be sure to reassure your child that there will be someone there to pick him or her up from school “after outdoor time”, or “after tea break”.
As young children are not capable of grasping the concept of time, try to use an identifiable activity so that they will be more aware of when someone will pick them up from school.
2. Have an avenue for expression
At a young age, children may not be able to express themselves sufficiently in words. Therefore, having ready avenues for them to communicate their feelings will help them to cope with the changes in their lives. Attending preschool or playgroup in Singapore is considered as a large shift in their daily routine and they will need more help to settle in.
You can do this by providing your child with easy access to drawing and craft materials. Other forms of expression include sensory play and expression, such as play dough, water beads or even coloured rice. Such activities may help your child to vent out feelings of frustration that he or she is unable to communicate via words to you or a caregiver.
3. Keep in constant communication with the teachers
Being in preschool in Singapore for a big part of the day means that your child will be in the care of another adult, which is his or her teacher. Thus, having regular communication and feedback sessions with your child’s teachers can go a long way to help you keep up with the happenings during the day in the playgroup class – and this can be done easily through the school’s mobile app or communication book.
If your child’s school often sends updates via photos and videos, you could show them to your child and get them to tell you more about the activity featured.
Starting playgroup marks the first step of your child’s journey in preschool where they will pick up valuable lessons and skills which they will take with them throughout their school years ahead. While the first few weeks may be filled with tiny road bumps, know that “this too shall pass” and before you know it, your little one will get over these fears and challenges and enjoy their day with their teachers and friends.
Written by Jamie Koh