Preschool is an educational establishment that offers early education to children aged three to six years old. While the trend of enrolling children to preschools is on the rise, there are parents who are still in a dilemma if they should start their children’s education as early as three years old.
Preschool provides a foundation for young children to learn in a socially and academically conducive environment. This will be children’s first experience in a structured setting with their peers and teachers. It gives children the opportunity to share, follow instructions and pick up necessary skills that will pave their learning path.
Parent’s Dojo speaks to Miss April Lee, the Principal of Q-dees Starters Elit Jaya on the importance of enrolling children in preschools and the challenges faced by preschools in Malaysia.
Parent’s Dojo: Is there difference in children who have attended preschool and children who have not?
April Lee: There is difference between children who have attended preschool and those who have not. Children who have attended preschool are more academically and emotionally ready. They are more confident and emotionally ready to handle the classroom setting. Plus, they are also more aware of their role and responsibilities. Besides academic preparation, preschools also provide a favourable environment for children to mingle and learn from their peers. The different programmes taught in preschools will help children to pick social skills that help them to interact and communicate with their peers and environment. Plus, it will also contribute to their creativity through personality and characteristic building.
Parent’s Dojo: What are the challenges faced by the preschools in Malaysia?
April Lee: Teaching is a very demanding profession. Teachers need to have dedication and patience, especially when they are teaching in preschools. It is a challenge for us to look for the right teachers because teaching has lost its appeal to the younger generations. While we have experienced teachers to support, I believe that it is important that we invest time and effort in training young teachers. They will be able to bring in new ideas that can benefit the students and communities.
Children constantly look up to us as their role model so it is important for teachers to work closely with parents in setting the right example. Misunderstanding tends to occur when there is lack of communication between teachers and parents. It is necessary for them to communicate and understand the difference in their approach when it comes to educating children. Educating and nurturing a child is a shared responsibility between the parents and teachers because they are the most influential adults in children’s life. The lack of communication will only distort the values that have been taught to the young ones.
Another challenge for teachers these days is the influence of information technology. I notice that children tend to spend more time on gadgets and computers. Instead of spending quality time with family members or peers, they are addicted to their gadgets. It is undisputable that children need to catch up with technology. But, we should not let technology to substitute or replace the bond between family members and friends. Children should be encouraged to appreciate the relationship with their family and friends.
Parent’s Dojo: What is your advice to parents who are looking for a suitable preschool for their children?
April Lee: There are many good preschools in the market. Different schools are driven by different management with different mission and vision. I encourage parents to do some research to understand the school, their needs and the suitability for their children. They should spend time visiting the school, getting to know the principal, teachers and culture.
April Lee, who is the founder and Principal of Tadika Elit Jaya, has more than 15 years of experience in teaching, is a passionate and dedicated teacher. She started heading Q-dees Starters Elit Jaya in 2007. Besides having experience in teaching, April also has experience in training teachers and planning programs for students aged 3 to 15 years old.