Advice to young kids' parents

Updated: 2014-10-21 08:09

(China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

My son is roughly 2 years and 9 months old, and my wife and I have decided that it's time for him to start attending a daycare center. There is a fundamental difference in Western and Chinese culture in the nomenclature "daycare center", or more specifically "kindergarten".

For Westerners, kindergarten is the year before grade 1, in which a child is usually 5 years old. Prior to kindergarten, there is also junior kindergarten for even younger children. In China, though, any daycare center or preschool that precedes grade 1 is classified as "kindergarten".

If my son went to a kindergarten he would have had to spend more than 8 hours a day away from parents or grandparents. Since we surmised that that would be too much for a kid leaving the confines of home for the first time, we decided on a half-day schedule - from Monday to Friday - at a kindergarten near our home.

As an educator, I would like more Chinese parents to know that it is not a necessity to get your kid into a full-time kindergarten/daycare center at any age younger than 4. These are precious years and you should spend as much time as possible with your child. If anything, it is becoming increasingly common in the West to "home school" children the first few years (this is no longer restricted to just religious zealots).

Kindergartens can be cash cows in many senses of the word, and businesses want to take advantage of that. Parents don't need to spend tons of money on their children's pre-school, call it kindergarten or daycare center. The most important thing is that toddlers can learn to play with others constructively and be able to forge friendships that will help them move forward into their future education.

SHARKMINNOW, from China Daily blog