In New Zealand preschool, or kindergarten as it is sometimes known, is not compulsory for children. It is an option for parents however, who have children between the age of 3-5 years. They vary in terms of opening hours and sessions. A good pre-school is a valuable way for your child to gain an insight into what school will be like. It often provides the stepping stone from childcare to formal schooling which begins in Year One. The findings from an Australian project called the Effective Provision of Preschool Education (EPPE) also indicated that: “high quality preschooling, including staff with higher qualifications, is related to better intellectual and social/behavioural development” and in addition, the study also found: “preschool experience, compared to none, enhances all-round development in children.”
The main focus of pre-school is learning through play. The programmes usually consist of several half-day sessions, or the corresponding amount in full days. Preschool should combine structured learning and imaginative individual activities.
There are a number of things to consider when deciding to start preschool.
The first thing to consider is that it is useful to attend a nearby preschool. If you have to travel long distances this can often be tiring and inconvenient for your family. You should ask around locally for advice on your near-by pre-schools. Word of mouth recommendations are always excellent and will give you a good insight into the running of the centre.
Secondly, it is important to consider if your child is ready to start pre-school. It is vital to visit the pre-school, preferably without your child at first so you can assess it for yourself. You can then discuss if this is a suitable time to enroll your child with the classroom teachers. Below are some things to consider when evaluating its suitability for your family.
On your second visit it is recommended you take your child and see how they both react and interact during your visit. Encourage the teacher to give you feedback as well if they think your child is ready to begin preschool. This will enable you to make a fully informed decision about if it is the right time to enroll or not.