It is rightly said that…
Parents are the first teachers of a child.
However, it is the dichotomy of the statement, which asserts upon the need for a teacher right from the earliest phase of life, which is invariably a story of learning for everyone at every stage.
It is a matter of serious evaluation to assess the right age for someone to do something especially young children. In case of toddlers, the decision largely rests upon the parents, his first teacher to establish the right age of going to a school.
Some basic parameters like development of motor skills, speech and communication through signs play a pivotal part to qualify a child as “play school ready “. However a child should be considered ready for a play school only when he begins to show a clear need for it like boredom with the stimulus around him or his interest in others of his age group or a desire to forward his creativity or his need to be a part of larger group where he participates freely and actively.
Careful parental observation can assess these growing traits conveniently and it is now that a child can embark upon the happy long journey of schooling and learning.
While some children start verbally communicating their needs, for others the preschool exposure serves as a catalyst in initiating communication.
Independence in bodily care
Same as communication, while some children refrain from adopting toilet training, a preschool/playschool is a good institution to start cultivating this habit.
While for any non verbal learner, curiosity rests with putting things in the mouth or just touching and feeling, in most cases the home can never provide an environment for these explorations. While getting teaching aids seems easy, but for the child to comprehend the usage, an apt setting where other children are doing activities using these tools/toys or teachers exhibiting the use, is ideal.
To step out in the real social world without parents can be challenging at any age. However, venturing around and starting early makes these children confident, independent and socially active.
So while there is no apt or accurate chronological age, a toddler can start exhibiting these developments any time from the 14th month to the 24th. Assessing the level of independence gained over these aspects can help parents decide that its time for their little one to take the plunge.
Dr. Usha Bhatnagar
Former Principal Shyama Prasad Mukherjee College, Delhi University
Currently associated with the Delhi Govt. on Education based NGOs