The foundation of your child starts during their kindergarten years. While it’s not compulsory to enrol your child in a kindergarten in Malaysia, we highly recommend it, as it is during their early childhood years when they undergo major development.
Kindergarten programmes focus on building a strong foundation for both formal and informal education with a goal to help children to develop important social skills for their well-being as they grow up.
In this post, we want to help you determine if your child is ready for kindergarten and how you can help prepare them for kindergarten.
Before we start, to answer a question we get asked a lot:
Question: Is it too late for a 6 year old child to enrol into kindergarten?
Children in Malaysia start primary school when they turn seven years old. However, prior to that, it’s important that they are well equipped with the foundations needed for primary school, such as the mastery of languages (English, Bahasa Malaysia & Mandarin).
While it is a little late for 6-year old children to enrol into kindergarten, consider enrolling your child if he or she needs help to master certain foundations such as language and speech skill sets.
At Q-dees we help children bring the best out of themselves using our award-winning Link & Think methodology. More importantly, the goal is to help children prepare for primary school.
Searching for a kindergarten in Malaysia? Use our search tool to find a kindergarten near you.
Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?
There are few types of kindergarten in Malaysia you can enrol your child in but before that, here are some signs that will help you determine if your child is ready for kindergarten.
1. Your child can speak his or her mind
Your child doesn’t have to be perfect, but they should be able to communicate effectively about events happening around them and express their emotions through words.
That said, it’s important to know that everyone, including your child, has different sets of personalities. If you have a shy child, don’t reprimand him or her for not speaking up. Focus on working on their weaknesses and encourage them to express themselves.
Here’s a tip. Instead of ordering them to speak, ask questions instead. Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable, but it will help stimulate the creativity of your child.
2.Your child can recognise similar objects
Can your child recognise similar objects by their shapes, colours or types and group them together?
If yes, that’s a good sign that your child is ready for kindergarten. Children who can identify similar objects show their intelligence and approach to learning.
Also, see if your child can identify items that go together. A fun activity is to get your child to identify socks of the same colours and patterns. This encourages creative and logical thinking.
3. They can understand and follow directions
Give simple instructions to your child, such as collecting his or her toys after playtime and storing them in the right place. If your child can follow such instructions, then that’s a sign he or she is ready for kindergarten.
You can also implement the ‘wait time’ technique to enhance your child’s understanding. With this technique, you simply pause three to seven seconds after giving him or her instructions. Research has proven that kids process information better when you give time for information to sink in their heads.
By giving them some space to process their thoughts, you not only practise communication skills but also help prepare them to be comfortable in an unfamiliar environment when they enrol into kindergarten.
4. Your child is showing signs of independence
While most children are used to having their parents support them, they will need a certain level of self-independence to cope with their time in kindergarten.
If your child prefers to independently have meals, arrange their clothes or go to the toilet by themselves, your child is showing strong signs of self-independence. When you see this behaviour, continue encouraging them to complete other tasks independently.
A good way to continue teaching your child to be independent is to set up schedules with activities that they can independently do themselves, such as brushing their teeth or putting their clothes into the laundry every day.
5. Your child can listen attentively
To be able to communicate effectively, a child needs to be a good listener as well. Children will be primarily learning in kindergarten by listening to the teacher, so it’s important that your child has good listening skills and can pay attention.
When your child can listen to you when you speak, that’s a good sign he or she is ready for kindergarten.
A tip to help improve your child’s listening and attention skills is to read a storybook and ask them to clap their hands whenever they hear a rhyming or trigger word.
How to Help Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten
While most parents focus on teaching their child numbers and letters to prepare them for kindergarten, there’s a lot more you can do.
In this section, we will share some tips to prepare your child for kindergarten.
1. Help your child develop problem-solving skill sets
Children don’t understand the importance of doing things on their own. That’s why you should help your child instil independence and problem-solving skill sets to help them prepare for kindergarten.
Let your child help you with some real-world tasks.
For example, if you plan to go on a trip, make a list of items you will need for your trip and ask your child to gather the items for you. Completing a task like this not only seems fun for your child, it also gets them to use logical and creative thinking.
In the process of completing tasks, it is only natural if they get stuck and need help. As a parent, be patient and allow for your child to ask for help, before you step in to help them.
Children learn better when they make mistakes and try to figure out solutions by themselves.
Finally, teach your child to make their own decisions. Give them choices for certain activities, such as choosing to complete their homework first before playtime. Sure, some children will choose to play over completing their homework, but ultimately give them the opportunity to make decisions and guide them to problem-solve.
2. Help your child read aloud
Helping your child read aloud is incredibly valuable because it enhances your child’s imagination, exposes him or her to languages and expands their imagination of the world. In fact, a big part of the kindergarten syllabus in Malaysia involves reading and articulation exercises.
Additionally, helping your child read aloud also helps increase his or her attention span and enhances his or her ability to focus.
But how can you help your child read aloud as you prepare him or her for kindergarten?
First, familiarise your child with printed texts. Have them to put their finger below words from left to right as you read them aloud to help them follow along.
Children love to hear stories with repeated words, songs, or patterns. If you can get a simple-to-understand storybook, read it to them while stressing on the rhyming words. Rhyming words will help boost your child’s memory.
Remember to always make reading a positive activity and not a negative one. So, never lose your patience and shout at them should they make mistakes, as it’s only normal for a growing child.
3. Teach them to control emotions
Children need to develop ways to control their emotions and enhance their social-emotional skills. This prepares them for kindergarten where they will be interacting with other children.
When children are emotionally and socially aware, they interact with one another better and solve problems more independently.
However, children need help in understanding emotions and managing it. This is where you come in to facilitate the learning process. By offering the necessary support and guidance for your child, they will develop ways of managing their emotions the right way even when they are in public.
Introduce your child to emotional words, such as frustrated, happy, calm, sad or angry through facial expressions to help them learn how to express their feelings. Ask them about how they feel and what they feel like doing upon experiencing various emotions.
4. Come up with routines
Going to kindergarten will be a new experience for your child. This also alters the daily routine that they are used to, so it’s important to set up new routines for your child.
Let them know what they will be doing before and after kindergarten. Set up a routine for them to follow. Because your child will have homework to complete after school, it is advisable to come out with a routine that includes doing their homework and playtime.
A good idea is to use checklists that your child can tick off once they complete their tasks, such as completing their homework and preparing for kindergarten the next day. This ensures that your child learns to be accountable and also makes it fun to complete their tasks.
Developing a bedtime routine will also ease the kindergarten transition. For example, if your child is used to staying awake till late, gradually introduce them routines to go to bed early. This is important as it gives them enough rest for kindergarten every day.
5. Help your child identify different colours
Before your child joins kindergarten, help them learn and identify different colours. One of the best ways to help your child identify colours is by showing them blocks or playcards of different colours and asking them to identify the colours.
Once your child has mastered at least six different colours, teach them to identify the colours on different objects. This helps your children see the world around them and aids with their spatial awareness.
Consistency and repetition are key to helping your child learn and memorise colours, so be patient and turn every activity throughout their day into a learning opportunity.
6. Visit the kindergarten together with your child.
One of the most critical considerations before enrolling your child in kindergarten is to familiarise them with its environment. When you visit your child’s new kindergarten, make a point to visit the playground, the canteen, classroom and even meet the teachers in person.
Familiarising with the place and the people in it will help ease the transition when your child goes into kindergarten.
It may take some time before your child builds a bond with new people and feels safe around a new surrounding, so do this early.
By now, you should have ideas to help prepare your child for kindergarten. And give yourself a pat on the back, because it’s not easy to be a parent. Remember, nothing you do for your child is ever wasted.
Be patient with your child and take time to educate them. You can look for the best kindergartens in Malaysia to enrol your child in but still, the major part of learning and child development begins at home.