We began our daughter Ridha Zaynab’s preschool when she just turned two and a half. The truth is ever since Ridha turned 2 years old, it became challenging to keep her content with enough to do at home, especially since I had her younger sister to take care of too. Being a stay-at-home-parent, the duties of the home, and coming up with a full day’s worth of activities was getting to be too much for me. Ridha would get bored of the same things and she demanded more. So we ended up choosing daycare at a rather “early” age of 2.5 years, and let me tell you why it was the right decision for us.
She has become more independent.
I had heard of this, but I had to witness it with my own eyes. After Ridha began preschool, there was a bit of an adjustment period at home. We were clashing over several things, because all of a sudden she was getting accustomed to different ways things are done at school.
Mainly, I was seeing that she wanted to do everything by herself in three areas: the bathroom, mealtime and morning/nighttime routines. She wanted to wash her hands by herself, on the stool, dry them independently, didn’t matter if it took her 30 minutes. She wanted to brush her teeth by herself, squeeze the paste on her toothbrush, and her aim was pretty bad. She wanted to eat by herself, despite feeding the floor more food then her mouth. She picked out all clothing, morning and night. I still have to play car salesman to get her to wear 50% more clothes from her wardrobe.
Then one day, we visited the preschool for a “Back to School Night” type thing, and I was able to hear the teacher tell us how wonderfully Ridha follows instructions. And their instructions are to do their tasks independently. We had a few treats, and I needed to wash my hands, so Ridha showed me to the bathroom. Everything is placed at toddler level, so she switched on the lights, turned on the faucet and washed her hands, then proceeded to dry them. All without me doing a thing. And then I knew, that I had to adjust myself and just let my child grow. Of course I still don’t let her do the toothpaste part.
School has become her playtime at home.
I had mentioned that part of the reason we began preschool was because we were running out of activities at home. Little did I know that just sending her three days a week, for three hours, that school would consume her time at home also. Ridha will come home from school, and spend hours recreating school in our family room. She imagines her daycare, pretends to be the teacher and leads circle time with her students, little sister and myself…and of course her loyal teddy bear.
Preschool has become the basis of playtime at home, and it’s her absolute favorite game. If I see that she’s getting a little bored, I’ll excitedly suggest she conduct a circle time and read us a story, and we sit down in a circle, while she repeats songs she’s learned from school. Even Rabab has learned them now. And everyday its different, she will imagine something new and incorporate it into the game.
She is slowly coming out of her shell.
The other part of the reason I wanted Ridha to begin preschool is the social aspect. Whenever we visited the library for storytime sessions, Ridha loved it but would not leave my side to go and play. She still doesn’t, and that’s okay. I know that my child is an introvert, only those who know her closely will know her silly side, and she isn’t the one to start conversations. But I didn’t want to withhold any opportunity for her to have fun with other kids her age.
We had done playdates, and trips to the mosque, library, gymboree and all of that is great and we still do some of those activities. But once Ridha began school, I began to see a different side of her too. She is definitely the quiet one in class, but she’s delighted to see her friends everyday, and knows all her fellow classmates’ names. She comes home with fun stories to share about all the people she saw that day, and takes joy in seeing them, even if she never shows it there.
There are numerous other benefits of starting preschool at this age. The exposure to different sensory materials, educational toys, interaction and just overall learning through play has completely opened up a new world. Although the transition has not been easy, (we still have tearful drop offs), I know that Ridha loves school and is learning so much because of it.
What age did you begin sending your child to a school setting and how was the transition? Please share in the comments below!