Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Published in Northern Living / Southern Living Magazines 2012

by: Alan & Sylvia de Luzuriaga

It's a tough world for kids.

In their first few years, they get doted upon as if the whole world revolves around them, making them feel safe and secure, until, the dawning of the age of preschool.
All of a sudden, they get thrusted into a scary world full of strangers with tons of things to do.

And that's when the tears flow, the shouting erupts and the tantrums start.

But, there are some ways to turn the frustration and confusion of first time schoolers into moments of love, affection and support.

According to Jennifer Wana - author of How to Choose the Best Preschool for Your Child: The Ultimate Guide to Finding, Getting Into, and Preparing for Nursery School, preschool time can be an exciting time for the whole family. We just have to make sure we know the correct WHY, WHEN, HOW, WHAT & WHERE of our first time schoolers' experience.

WHY - Why do we need to send our kids to preschool?

For one, it helps them form relationships that help their emotional and social development. It trains them to be independent and gives them a feeling of self worth. It also gives them the confidence to make their own decisions. Schoolwork develops their language, cognitive, math, literacy and motor skills. And lastly, it prepares them for higher academic levels.

Of course, activities at home can also provide them with many lessons and skills . Which is why it is important that we also know the WHEN.

WHEN - When do we need to send our kids to school?

There are parents who start early and send their kids to school at the age of two. However, other parents prefer to follow the norm of four or five.

So what is the ideal age for your child? It's time to get to the HOW and find out.

HOW - Preparing your kids for preschool is also the best way to find out if they are ready or not. Before the school year starts, you will need to have your kids evaluated by a school (not necessarily the one you will eventually choose) .
The results of the evaluation will help you know what to do. You have to talk to your kids about the new experiences they will be having. In the summer months, introduce them to group settings like summer classes. Visit the school they will be attending so the place won't be that "new" and "strange" once school starts.

A wonderful suggestion by Ms. Wana is to use school terms inside the home. Playing with their clay set becomes "Art Time" and having their merienda will be "Snack time" or "Recess". Another good tip is to read books and watch movies about first time schoolers that will put your children at ease.
Recommended Books:
  • The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn
  • My First Day at Nursery School, by Becky Edwards
  • What to Expect at Preschool, by Heidi Murkoff
  • I Love You All Day Long, by Francesca Rusackas

One last but vital advice is this. NEVER talk about concerns and worries in front of your children. You would not want to give them ideas that school is a place that they should be afraid of.

Now that you know what to do, you can start choosing WHAT kind of school you will be sending your children to.

WHAT - What kind of preschool education is right for my kids?

All schools fall into two categories – "Child Centered" or "Teacher Directed".
According to Babble Parenting Guides ( ), "In a child-centered classroom, children choose what activities they want to do and when to do them. "
"Teacher-directed classrooms have a more structured feel, as teachers tell the children what activities to do and when they will do them."

All other teaching styles or methods such as Play-based, the Montessori method, the Reggio Emilia approach, the Waldorf philosophy, and the traditional school method all fall under these two above-mentioned categories.

It would be worth any parent's time to look into these various systems and approaches as they all have their own advantages.

Once you have chosen which kind of schooling you prefer, the last step is the WHERE.

WHERE - Which school do I send my kids to?

First thing parents have to do is to check out the school. Bring your kids along. Watch their facial reactions as you go around the school and make sure to ask them what they think. They are never too young to know what they like or don't like.
For those of us in Metro Manila, it is also important to consider the traffic situation. The time spent traveling and being stuck in traffic, specially if your kids are running late, might just make everyday stressful for your kids. This would dampen any learning experiences your children could potentially receive on that day.

It all boils down to knowing what we want for our children, and preparing ourselves and our kids for their voyage through the world of learning and life.