When Should You Apply for Preschool?

learning chinese characters preschool

At what age should a child in Singapore start preschool? Is 18 months too young for preschool? Is preschool necessary?

What about kids who are 4 years of age or older—would that be considered a ‘late’ start to preschool?

In Singapore, most preschools take in children from 18 months to 6 years old. Here at Shaws Preschool, we’ve seen many children start school between the ages of 18 months and two years old. However, this doesn’t mean that your child should do the same!

As parents, you know your children best, so don’t worry too much about following the crowd. Instead, step back and take an objective look at whether or not it is time for your little one to embark on their learning journey outside the home.

Not sure how to do this? Read on and we’ll help guide you through the process!

Signs that Your Child is Ready for Preschool

kids chinese mooncake festival preschool

The preschool experience is designed to develop your child holistically over several years. Apart from daily learning activities, your child will also have to grapple with social challenges and emotional experiences—the skills that will set him or her up for life!

So how can you tell if your 18 month old or two year old is ready for preschool? Here are three signs to look out for:


#1 Loves being independent, and is curious about the world

Is your child eager to do things independently, such as getting dressed and putting on their shoes? Does he or she like trying new things? Are you constantly hearing ‘why’ questions from your child?

These are all signs that children are ready for preschool learning!


#2 Expresses interest in going to school

Children with older siblings, friends or cousins are often curious about school, and they may express keenness to start school themselves.

Does your child like to set up a classroom at home—using dolls and other toys—and pretend to be the teacher? This is a clear sign that he or she is interested in school!

#3 Can communicate basic needs to unfamiliar adults

Is your child able to tell a non-family member that he or she needs the bathroom? Can your child express that he or she is feeling unwell?

Children do not need to be verbal to express their needs. At Shaws Preschool, for example, our teachers are very experienced at picking up nonverbal communication cues from our Pre-Nursery children. As long as young children can make their needs known through baby talk, facial expressions, and gestures such as pointing, this will be sufficient for preschool.


Signs that Parents are Ready for Preschool

Parents, do remember that sending your child to preschool is a new experience for YOU—are you ready for it? If you’re not, your child may sense your hesitation and start to feel anxious about preschool too.

We’re parents ourselves, so we know how it feels! It’s a big step to let your child leave the safety of home for the first time. Here’s what you can do to ease your doubts about preschool:


#1 Know what you’re worried about

Do you have a specific fear, or are you simply anxious about the transition to preschool, which is understandable?

Draw up a list of your concerns, and discuss them with your partner or parent friends, who can provide their perspectives.


#2 Get to know the school and its curriculum

We would recommend that you visit the preschools that you are interested in, both during open house events and on a private tour. These are opportunities for you to meet the teachers, and see how they interact with the children.

If you feel comfortable in the school, your little one will too. (Click here for our checklist on how to choose the best preschool in Singapore!)

#3 Do several dry-runs

If you’ve already decided to sign your child up with a preschool, take your child to visit the school before the term begins. You can introduce your child to the teachers, and visit the classroom to build a sense of familiarity.

Taking your child to the playground also serves as an effective icebreaker—at Shaws Preschool, we invite all of our new kids to do this!

How to Best Prepare Your Child for Preschool

Have you picked a preschool that believes in learning through play—like Shaws Preschool? Your child will have plenty of fun alongside other children!

Here’s how you can prepare your child to look forward to the preschool journey.


#1 Read positive stories about preschool

To set the right mood before the first day of school, look for picture books that show kindergarten or school in a positive light, such as “Maisy Goes to Preschool!” You can get more book recommendations here.


#2 Involve your child in getting ready for school

You can play getting-ready games, to see who is the fastest to get dressed, or start using school items such as lunchboxes. Before the first day of preschool, you should also take your child shopping, so that he or she can choose a backpack, a water bottle, pencil case, and other school supplies.


#3 Talk about the exciting parts of preschool life

Tell your child that they’ll get to be a ‘big kid’ by going to school! Find out all about the school routines that your child can expect, such as outdoor time and indoor learning time, as well as meal times and rest times.

Do also let them know that it’s OK to feel scared or sad about going to school. If your child is worried about being away from home or missing your presence, find ways to help your child cope. For instance, your child could bring a family photo or familiar toy to school.

When the day arrives to drop your child off at preschool, do reassure your child that you will be back to pick them up when school is over. You can be specific about when that will be—for example, after lunch or after naptime.

What’s the best way to say goodbye to your child on the first day of preschool? Our advice is to do it quickly!

Don’t be tempted to linger—this will only make the separation harder for your child. Above all, trust the principal and teachers at the preschool that you have chosen. Remember: they have spent years settling in hundreds of children, and they will take good care of your child too.

You can learn more about getting your child ready for preschool here.