Start school at 6 vs 4 years old
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario, 7-Dec-2009
Should your children start going to kindergarten at the age of six or four? When we were children, most of us started going to kindergarten only at six, one year before entering primary school.
These days, however, children have been known to start at age four or even three. What age is too young, and should children start school so early? Should we be worried about the consequences of them starting so early?
Yasmin Emi, mother of four:
I went to kindergarten at age six. However, my kids started kindergarten at 4. I had my reasons. My eldest started school at six. My second and third I sent at four years old because we didn't have a maid so I put them there to pass the time. Actually at my company, we have a nursery for children. I could have put them there the whole day - it's not a problem. It's for children from babies till 12 years old. But I felt my children were a bit bored. So, we decided to put them in the nursery for half a day and the other half a day they went to the kindergarten. The kindergarten accepts children from age four but of course they don't teach that early. It's only when the children reach six years old that they really start teaching them more.
I think it's up to the individual if they want to send their children to school from age four or six. But for me, I think they should start at age five. Four is too early actually and I feel the syllabus is almost the same for the four and five-year-olds. There's not much difference. It's just singing, painting and teaching them to mix with the other kids.
Our youngest son is a special child. He is hyperactive. He is classified as an OKU (disabled person) and the government has a special preschool for children like him. He went to that preschool as well as a kindergarten. At the special preschool he learnt more about painting as well as how to be more independent and do things on his own. At the kindergarten he learnt about writing, singing and art. In his first year there was no impact. In his second year, at age five, he became the example child at the kindergarten because he made such progress. My son was there from age four until he turned seven. Am I being harsh as a mother to send my child to kindergarten for four years? I don't think so because that kindergarten motivated him to go to school and learn.
My son improved so much. I'm happy because now he can read and write.
There are two categories of children. Those who are not slow and those who are slow. If they start at six years old, those who are not slow can catch up. For those who are slow like my son, it's better to start at four years old.
I think, on average most parents in the city send their children to school early because they don't want to be left out because the other parents are sending their children early now.
Mazniha Mohd Ali Noh
Mazniha Mohd Ali Noh, mother of four:
My mum was a primary english teacher,
so I did not go to kindergarten. Instead I followed my mum to her
school where I sat at the back of the class from age five. She said I
did well and got number 10 in the class considering I was only five.
Basically, I was in Standard 1 at age five!
For my own children - Jasmin, Dahlia and Lily started kindy at three years old. I think it's okay as children nowadays are more advanced than we were due to the exposure to the TV, computer etc.
I think three years old is the the right age to start sending children to school. It's not too early and it is scientifically proven too. It teaches the children not so much of academic but also social skills, friendship, sharing and that the world does evolve around us there are others too.
Children today are starting school earlier because they are more advanced. Parents have no choice really. As parents we try to provide for them so they can cope well along with others. Especially now that the environment is changing and becoming more competitive, with global challenges, it's going to be tougher. We have to brace ourselves and get our children ready for the future.
I am more worried about the consequences of not sending them to school early and the consequences of them not studying enough!
I am not a studious person, so for me I
think the solution is to work hard and play harder. You have to
strike a balance. Life is short. Yes one must study to get good
grades. That's the beginning of life. Yes, getting a good job means
getting a good salary but one must be happy. Money is not everything
because money is never enough.
I agree that children nowadays lose a lot on not being able to have fun ... good, innocent fun that we used to have those days. Why? Because of the rat race. So, we parents make them study so they can get good grades, good university, good job. We do it with good intentions but sometimes we get carried away!
Children should be allowed to have time to be children, fun time as children because that is the only time a person can have for him/herself, because once they grow up and have their own family, then their time is not their own anymore. They will not be able to regain the lost childhood so don't make them grow up too fast and have no childhood at all.
My son just turned four. I have not sent him to school yet...though I do send him to Smart Readers every Sunday just for socialising more than reading. He's a very bright child and I have been teaching him at home...very informally since he was 1 +. Without the rigours and routine of school I've managed to harness he's creative thinking skills. He can read very very well, write well, do arithmetic and also do art and craft. In fact he also writes to the Starchild column( in The Star ) every single week! All of these have been possible not through force or tuition but getting him interested in things at his own pace...in the process I have discovered his forte and we have a very strong bond. Of course all these are possible because I switched to working part time after he was born and I do not regret my ddecision at all.
I am sending him to school next year...he will be 4 + and I think its the best age. 2 years of kindy is more than enough but that takes into account that you have coached your child with the basics of reading and writing. You do not want them to be completely out of place when they start school!
With the start of the new school year, I seen that the neighbours are busy sending off their children to kindergarden. They ranges from 2 year to year old. There is even one barely two years old.
My youngest is 2 1/2 years old, being put up with a nanny. She knows all her alphabets and even counting from 1 to 20. Looking at her progress, I was afraid that she might be restless remaining in her nanny's comfort. To speak the truth. I did consider sending her to kindergarden but my wise judgement retained her besides her nanny.
Looking back at my decision. I am glad I did not send her for early schooling. Now she can still sleep to her heart;s content in the morning, sings her Barney "I love you', dances to her whims and plays her favourite game with her nanny. No restrrictions or rules forbidding her to this or that. She is allowed to grow up at her own pace and comfort.
She might missed out of socialising and playing with others but heck, I guess this can wait for a few more years, until she is ready right?
We all have one one childhood. I have enjoyed mine, why cant the children enjoy theirs?
People normally have the view that the younger you send your kids to school, the more competitive/kiasu you are being.
I wonder if anyone ever considers that if your child is older than the other kids, he actually has a greater advantage?
Sure, he may be older, but he'll also be better physically, mentally and emotionally. And these advantages aren't just for the first year of school, they could lead right up to higher education.
I do not have maid at home. I sent my sons to nursery but they don't learn anything. I sent my first boy to Smart Reader Centre since 4 years old. Now he is six years old and more matured, independence and intelligent than kids who just enter kindergartens. This year I sent my second son to the same center , hoping that he will be as good as the brother.
I have a daughter age 4 this year. Previously we sent our daughter to a nursery where she did nothing but play sing and get bitten.
This year we sent her to Q-Dees Setiawangsa Kindergarten. There she got plenty of things to do. She has her swimming lesson, Art lessons, school trips, Agama lessons, Mandarin classes, Math, English and B.Malaysia.
She starts from 8.30am to 12.30 and continue with day care at Q-Dees from 12.30 until 6pm. In day care, she will have her lunch, nap, and play with other kids and some reading.
There is no harm on sending your children to school at early age if you know your kid is having fun and getting good education rather than stay at home with maid or nursery which your kid might not like it and not happy.
Do ask your children if they are happy at where they are?